Is Your Swimming Pool Leaking? Here’s how to find out.
By Peter Jones
Having a swimming pool is exciting; it’s the dream of many homeowners. However, it also comes with commitment and responsibilities. You’ll need to ensure that the pool is kept clean, that the pH is balanced and more importantly, that your pool isn’t leaking.
Pools naturally lose water due to 3 things:
Repairing leaks is essential to reducing your water bill & saving water. It also helps to uphold the pool structural components.
Swimming pools & the filtration system are watertight immediately after installation but unfortunately they deteriorate with time causing components to fail and spring a leak.
Some areas that are prone to leaks include:
- Liner; Pool liners have a lifespan of between 8-20 years. The pool use, maintenance, and weather will all determine how long the liner lasts.
- Filter; Filters require regular cleaning and maintenance, and once they start leaking then immediate cleaning/ repair/ or replacement is necessary.
- Pump; If the pool pump has malfunctioned, costly, and damaging leaks become inevitable. Luckily, the pump can be repaired if the leak is detected early. In some instances the pump may not be repairable and will need replacing
Common signs of a leak
These are some of the common signs that your swimming pool has a leak:
- The air in the system; air bubbles coming out of the return lines in the pool is a sign that there is a leak in the filtration system.
- Visible cracks; Cracks are usually small and difficult to identify, so a visible crack is a sign of a leak.
- Losing more water; Water loss beyond the normal evaporation is a sure sign of a leak.
- Pool deck sinking or lifting; Underground leaks can lead to pooling water and this damages the pool deck. Damages are not always a sign of wear and tear but can be a sign of a leak.
- Inconsistent pH; Difficulties in keeping the pH balanced is a sign of a leak.
- Adding water frequently; If you have to refill your pool after every few days, then the chances are that the pool has a leak.
- If leaks happen with or without the pump on; Pool leaks can occur when the pump is running or when it’s turned off. Pump leaks will help determine the part of the pump that is faulty; it could be either the pressure or suction components. The indicators of a pressure side leak include; low flow rate, air bubbles in the strainer, cloudy water, and the pump not working when turned on. Indicators of a suction side leak include; rapid water loss, water damage to the pool deck, pooling water around the pump, and spraying water at the connection site.
Testing for a leak
There are simple DIY tests that are done to detect a leak. The two easiest methods include:
- Dye Test
This test is used to check for tears in the liner or a visible crack in the pool. The test kit is readily available in shops and stores that sell pool accessories.
It tests high-risk areas like fittings, skimmers, and screws; it should be done when the water is calm, and everyone has exited the pool.
Also, ensure that the pool equipment has been turned off.
Start by releasing a steady stream of dye into the area surrounding the suspected leak area.
This test is only useful around flanges like lights, skimmers because you’re able to monitor the dye’s movement in the water.
Cracks in the floor of concrete pools or the main drain of the pools are not ideal for dye testing as you cannot get close enough to test such areas – unless of course you are able to scuba dive!
- Bucket Test
The bucket test is easy; it’s used for detecting leaks in in-ground pools.
What You Need:
- A clean bucket
- A heavy rock or brick
- Duct tape
The bucket should be partially filled with water and then set at the pool’s top step. The brick or rock inside the bucket prevents it from being flipped over. Take note (use a marker) of the water level in the pool and in the bucket.
This test should be done when it is not raining, and the pool is not to be used for at least 24 hours.
A humid day would be the best time for this test. Do not use or interfere with the pool for two days.
If after 48 hours the water levels in both the pool and bucket have gone down, that’s probably as a result of normal evaporation.
However, if the pools water level has gone down while the bucket’s hasn’t, the chances are that your pool has a leak.
It’s worth noting that most pool leaks occur along the skimmer lines or return lines. The bucket test is a general test; it won’t help you pinpoint exactly where the leak is.
You may have to buy some inexpensive plugs that are used to cover the return lines (water jets on the pool).
Wait for two days and observe whether there’s a change in the water level.
As for detecting leaks along the skimmer line, this is more complex and extensive. It entails using a pressure test, and as such, you may have to call in a professional swimming pool leak detection company to do that.
Cleaning or replacing the O-ring can be all that is needed to fix a leak in some cases. However, if there are visible cracks in the pool, then the entire filter must be replaced.
Well, visible cracks can be patched up, but this is a temporary solution. A full replacement is always a better option.