Identifying & Fixing Pool Leaks

Pool repairs are an inevitable part of pool ownership. It is always a bummer, however, when an unexpected pool leak interrupts even one day of pool season.

If you’re concerned that your pool is losing water and could have a leak, you’ll want to first eliminate other common causes of water loss.

The Un-leaky Culprits

Did you know that on the hottest summer days, a pool can evaporate up to a 1/4″ of water? That’s 2 inches in just 1 week! Air temperature, wind conditions, humidity levels and lack of shade and protection from the elements can all contribute to how much water your pool loses each day.  You could also see significant water loss if you’ve had higher than usual pool traffic – especially if there’s been lots of splashing.

The Bucket Test

There is a simple way to determine if your pool water is evaporating or leaking. All you will need is a bucket, a pool step or ladder and these instructions.

  1. Fill a bucket 1-2″ from the brim with your pool water.
  2. Place the almost full bucket of water in your pool on the
    second pool step or top rung of the ladder. You’ll want the water in the bucket to be level with the water in your pool.
  3. Mark the water level on the inside and outside of the bucket with tape or a permanent marker. Be sure to turn off your auto-refill device if you have one.
  4. Test 1: Leave the bucket alone for at least 24 hours with the pump on, then measure the water level in your pool and your bucket.
  5. Test 2: Leave the bucket alone for at least 24 hours with the pump off, then measure the water level in your pool and your bucket.

If the pool water level has decreased by the same amount as the bucket water level, you don’t have a leak, you have evaporation. If the pool water has decreased more than the bucket water, you likely do have a leak. Check out this video from American Leak Detection to see the test in action.

  • You lose more water when the pump is running – the problem is in the plumbing. Call a professional (or contact us for a referral) to perform a pressure test to pinpoint the leak.
  • You lose the same amount of water when the pump is on or off – the issue is likely in the liner, lights, or somewhere in the shell of the pool. It could also be a leak in the hydrostatic valves at the bottom of the pool.

The Dye Trick

For this exercise you will need food coloring or leak finding dye, goggles and a snorkel.

  1. Take your food coloring, goggles and snorkel into the pool and prepare to search for the leak. Pro Tip: Move slowly around the pool to avoid disturbing the water.
  2. If you suspect the leak to be higher up the wall, we
    recommend draining your pool to that level to see if leaking appears to stop and to narrow down the location of the leak.
  3. Test areas with visible cracks by squirting food coloring or dye in bursts into the cracks to see if the coloring gets sucked into the cracks. If it does, you have discovered the
    location of a leak!
  4. If you aren’t sure where to start, we recommend starting near your main drain and return lines or anywhere the pool’s shell has been punctured.
Fixing the Leak

We highly recommend contacting professionals to do the necessary repairs, especially if the leak involves your pool plumbing. However, if you have a concrete, plaster or fiberglass pool and you feel comfortable tackling the problem yourself, be sure to do your research and purchase the proper supplies. If you have a vinyl pool liner and have identified a liner leak, you can purchase a vinyl repair kit in our store and attempt to patch the hole before bringing in the pros.

The longer it takes to determine that you have a pool leak, the more difficult it can be to address the issue. Make it a priority to routinely check your pool and equipment for signs of leaks to prevent headaches in the future.

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