Have you noticed that your pool is losing more water than usual? Are you having to refill your pool more than you used to? You might have a leak. But when is it time to call a pool repair professional? How much water loss is normal and how much is too much? The truth is that all pools lose water. Some water is lost to evaporation and some is lost to minor leaks that are inevitable and don’t need to be fixed. So how do you know when to call a pool repair professional for a leak? The Pool Butler is here to go over a few of the telltale signs and help you determine when to call a pool repair professional for a leak.
All Pools Lose Water
A pool may seem like a relatively simple system. The pool holds thousands of gallons of water. A pump circulates that water, taking in dirty water and returning clean water to the pool. It should be a closed system and at no point should any water leave the system. But the truth is that no pool is a completely sealed system. There are many ways that a pool can lose water. Most of them don’t require any action on your part other than the occasional topping off.
The most common loss of pool water is just due to simple evaporation. It’s hard to say what is “normal” evaporation. The rate of evaporation depends on the weather, the heat, relative humidity, wind, and water temperature. With the high humidity in Atlanta, water loss will be less than in some really dry climates, but the heat will still have an effect. If you are losing more than 1/4 inch a day, you should start checking for signs of a leak.
If your pool is getting a lot of use, especially from children, splashing can also be a source of water loss. It can be surprising just how much water can escape a well-used pool. People get in and out. Water splashes from rough play and cannon balls. If your pool deck is all wet by the end of a swimming session, you should expect some significant water loss.
Not Every Leak Needs to Be Repaired
It may seem counterintuitive, but not every leak is a problem. With so many connections and other weak points in your pool, some water loss is inevitable. Concrete is porous, so even though concrete pools have a waterproof coating, some leakage in an older pool should be expected. The same is true of an aging water circulation system. If there is a very slow leak around your pump or in one of the connections along the way, you might not need to jump on it. Leaks can be expensive to find and fix, especially in buried piping, so sometimes it’s worth just living with a small leak. However, when a leak grows, it can start to damage the area around it even compromise the integrity of your pool. So knowing how much your pool is leaking is very important.
How Much Water Are You Losing
There are different ways to measure water loss in a pool. If you have an automatic fill device, keep an eye on your water bill. If there is an unexplained spike in your bill, take a look at your pool. If you find yourself adding more chlorine and other chemicals than usual, your automatic fill may be to blame. If water is leaking out and too much new, untreated water is being pumped in to replace it, your water will become hard to balance.
In a pool without an automatic fill device, simply measuring how much the level of the pool water drops can be a good way to test for a potential leak. In the next section, we will discuss the bucket test. It’s a common test used by homeowners and swimming pool professionals to measure water loss.
Another sign your pool may be leaking too much is wetness around the pool and equipment. If the ground around your pool feels soggy or spongey, you may have excess water in the ground. That could be a telltale sign of a pool leak. You can also check the area around the exposed parts of your pump system for moisture. If the ground around or underneath your pump, water heater, chlorinator, or other equipment is wet, that’s a good sign of a leak. You can also look for corrosion or water damage around connections.
The skimmer box and returns are common locations for pool leaks. They seal around them may not be perfect, leading to water escaping the pool. Check the area around them for wetness if you suspect a leak.
The Bucket Test
The classic test for water loss is the bucket test. It will help you determine how much water your pool is losing and controls for evaporation loss. To do the test you just need a 5-gallon plastic bucket and a waterproof marker or some duct tape. Here’s what you need to do:
- Place the bucket on the second step of your pool or another shallow spot. Fill the bucket with water to match the water level of the pool. Mark the water level on the bucket with the marker or duct tape.
- Turn off your pool pump. If you have an autofill device, shut that off, too.
- Wait 24 hours. (Try to get as close to precisely 24 hours as possible, as that will give you the most accurate results.) If it rains, you will have to cancel your test and try again when it’s dry.
- Compare the water level in the bucket with the water level in the pool. The water level in the bucket will probably have dropped a little due to evaporation. But if the water level in the pool is lower than in the bucket, you are losing water beyond just the amount that evaporates.
- Whether or not the pool water level was lower than the bucket, try the test again with your pump on. (An autofill device should still be off.) This will help determine where the leak is. If the leak only occurs only with the pump off, the leak is likely on the suction side of your water system. If it only occurs with the pump on, it is likely the pressure side. And if the leak occurs either way, it is likely in the pool itself.
What to Do if You Have a Pool Leak
If you ran the bucket test and it looks like you are losing water beyond just evaporation, it’s time to go leak-looking. Inspect the area around your pool for soggy or spongy ground. Check your pool equipment and any above-ground connections. Look for any cracks or loose tiles in your pool. If you can find the source of a leak, you’re half of the way to fixing it. If you can’t, The Pool Butler can probably help.
When your pool is leaking (more than just a dribble) it’s important to fix it promptly. Letting your pool leak for too long will cause damage that could get a lot more serious and expensive than the leak. So if you think you have a leak, contact The Pool Butler today. We’ve seen all kinds of leaks, so we know where to look and what to do. Maintaining your pool with repairs as needed is a lot cheaper than waiting for severe damage and major problems. The Pool Butler is here to keep your pool healthy and your wallet happy!