Find and Fix a Swimming Pool Leak

Any pool will need to be refilled on a regular basis. Especially during the hot summer months, pools lose water to evaporation. When people are using the pool a lot (also usually during the hotter months), water will also be lost to splash-out. On the other hand, pools will gain some water with rainfall, especially in the wet Georgia summers. However, if you are adding more than two inches of water a week on a regular basis, you may have a leak. It’s not always easy to find and fix a swimming pool leak. While there are easy ways to tell if your pool is leaking, locating and fixing the leak is more complicated. The professionals at The Pool Butler can help locate and fix swimming pool leaks.

Find and Fix a Swimming Pool Leak [infographic]

Determine If a Pool is Leaking

There are lots of ways a pool could lose water and a leak is only one. So how can you tell if you really have a leak? If you are adding more than two inches of water a week for a few weeks in a row, you might have a leak. But there are some simple tests to help determine if you actually have a leak.

One method for identifying a leak is the “bucket test”. This will help separate out normal evaporation from a real leak. You will need a 5-gallon bucket and a heavy-duty, waterproof marker.

First, place the bucket on the second step of your pool. Fill the bucket with water until it matches the water level of the pool. Then, use the marker to mark the water level inside the bucket. Now, turn off the pump and wait 24 hours.

When you come back to the bucket, check the water level. If the water levels in the bucket and the pool have both gone down, but the bucket and the pool are still even, you are losing water to evaporation. However, if the water level in the pool is lower than in the bucket, you probably have a leak.

Testing with the Pump On

Whether or not this test shows a leak, you will want to repeat the test with the pump on to be sure. Running the test with the pump both off and on can give you a lot more information. If the test with the pump off didn’t show a leak, but you still seem to be losing a lot of pool water, the leak may be occurring only with the pump on. If the first test showed a leak, rechecking with the pump on will help you locate the leak.

For the second test, you will want to start over with an equal water level in the bucket and your pool. Mark the new water level. Now, turn on the pump and wait another 24 hours. If the water level in the pool drops more than in the bucket, you know that there is (also) a leak with the pump on.

If the Pool Leaks Only With the Equipment On

If the pool is leaking only with the pump on, the likely culprit is a pressure-side return leak. This means that the leak is located in the piping on the other side of the pump, where pressure forces the water back into the pool. What might be a small drip with the pump off can become a fast leak when the pump turns on and increases the pressure.

At this point, you can start looking for signs of a pressure-side leak. Check the backwash or waste line for any continuous drips. You can also search for underground leaks by checking the soil. Look for moist or soft patches in the area of your yard above the pipes that return water to the pool.

If you suspect you have a pressure-side leak, you may need to call in a professional to find the exact location of the leak. If it is underground, it may take some serious work to reach and repair the leak. The experts at The Pool Butler are experienced in finding and fixing swimming pool leaks. You can contact us online or call us at 770-439-2644 and we’ll come to your home to help find and repair your pressure-side leak.

If the Pool Only Leaks With the Equipment Off

If the pool seems fine when the pump is on, but leaks when the pump is turned off, you may be able to tell where the leak is. This is likely a suction-side leak. In other words, the leak is located on the intake side of your pump system, before the pump. The reason the pool doesn’t leak with the pump on is that the pump creates a vacuum. The suction of that vacuum draws water away from a crack or hole and keeps the water from escaping. But when the pump is off, water can leak out of a small hole or crack in the pipes.

If you think you have a suction-side leak, you will have to check the length of the pipeline for leaks. If the pipeline is underground this can be difficult, especially if it is under the pool decking. The professionals at The Pool Butler can help find this kind of leak.

If the Pool Leaks With the Equipment On and Off

If the pool is always leaking, you may need to look beyond the plumbing. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t an issue in the plumbing, but it does raise concern about other areas. One common location for a non-plumbing leak is the skimmer where it connects to the pool. Especially in concrete pools, the skimmer can separate slightly from the concrete and create a leak. Underwater lights can also leak. Both of these can be fixed pretty easily with some pool putty.

You can also search a plaster or concrete pool for any obvious cracks. In a vinyl pool, look for tears in the vinyl. If you think you’ve spotted a leak, you can use a dye test to verify the leak. With the pool pump off and the water as still as possible, put some dark colored food coloring in the pool and watch to see if the dye is pulled toward the crack or tear. You can also use specialized leak detection dye you get at a pool supply store. If the dye is being pulled toward a crack or tear, you have found your leak.

Let the Pool Drain

If you think the problem is not at the skimmer and can’t find a crack or tear, you may be able to simply let the leak drain the pool. Close the skimmer valve and run the pump off the main drain. Let the leak do its work and watch the water level drop. If it drops below the skimmer and keeps dropping, the leak is likely not at the skimmer. Let the pool continue to drain until the water level stabilizes. The level at which the water stops draining is where your leak is.

Check to see if the water stops at a wall fitting, wall step, or pool light. If it stops at any of these, check them closely for evidence of a leak. In any case, carefully inspect all around the pool just above the water level. Since the water level has dropped below the leak, you won’t be able to use the dye test. But look for other signs of suction. If you see small debris in a crack, that could be a sign that there was suction from a leak drawing in small debris.

Fixing a Pool Leak

In a vinyl pool, fixing a leak can be a DIY project. Simply cut out a patch about 1 inch larger than the tear on all sides, apply some glue, and place the patch over the tear. If the patch is applied above water level you can simply place it on and apply pressure for two minutes. If the patch is below water level, apply the glue to the patch, then fold it in half. This minimizes the exposure of the glue to the pool water. Position the patch underwater next to the tear. Then, in one smooth motion, unfold the patch and slap it over the tear. Keep pressure on it for 5 minutes to set.

For a fiberglass, concrete, or plaster pool, repairs are more involved. Unless you are particularly handy, this is probably a good time to call in the professionals. The experts at The Pool Butler are trained in repairing all types of pools. So whether your pool is vinyl, fiberglass, concrete, or plaster, you can count on us to fix it correctly. Contact us online or call us at 770-439-2644 if you think you have a leak. We’ll confirm the leak, find it, and fix it.

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