In the south, we can use our swimming pools almost all year round. Some people will have heaters installed as well to get through the few cold days or weeks the region experiences. A lot of time is spent in the water so the pool is used quite a bit and definitely saves us in the hot summer heat. However, just as with anything, maintenance is required beyond the weekly cleaning. Think you may be losing water? We have a list of swimming pool leak detection tips for you. You may notice the pool is losing more than ¼ inch of water each day or the grass around the pool is wet or other things are happening. Let’s check it out.
Why This is Important
A swimming pool is an expensive investment that you want to be able to use for years to come. Keeping an eye out for signs of pool leaking can keep your costs lower if caught early. Pools will leak when seals wear out and also through fittings, accessories, and the shell.
Tip # 1 Pool is Losing More Than 1/4 inch of Water Per Day
The first thing you can do is the bucket test to make sure it isn’t evaporation from the heat. In the south, swimming pools with no screen, no waterfalls, or water features can also lose this amount of water due to evaporation. However, when pools have these features, the water stays cooler and is constantly moving so the water doesn’t evaporate as much. It is important to rule out a leak by performing the bucket test.
Put a bucket next to the pool and put water in it. Mark on the bucket the waterline. Then, mark the pool where the water line is. Wait 1-3 days and then check the pool water line and bucket water line. If the pool lost more water than the bucket, then you have a leak.
Check out this video about the bucket test
This test can be conducted with the pool on or off. Keep in mind, if your pool is on, the leak could be anywhere throughout the pool system. If the pool is off, the water leak is somewhere within the pool or where the water has settled.
Tip #2 Pooling Water or Soggy Grass
If you see water starting to pool around or grass is soggy, or even the pool deck is sinking or lifting up, this could indicate a leak in the underground pipes. Think there may be a leak in the underground plumbing? Shut off the pool pump and plug the lines of the pool. If there continues to be water leaking, then you have ruled out the underground plumbing.
If there is no water leaking, then perform a pool plumbing pressure test to see which one is leaking. You may need to call in a professional.
Tip #3 Check the Equipment Pad – Valves, Pump, and Heater.
Check for spraying water as leaks don’t occur only in the pool, but also when you turn the pool off and back on. An easy home inspector tactic is to look at the equipment concrete pad for any water stains and investigating further.
Tip # 4 Bubbles in the Return Lines
When looking at the return lines, if you see bubbles, this indicates there is air in the system. It also means there is a leak probably somewhere in the area of the filtration system. Bubbles are normal when the system first kicks on, however.
Tip #5 Swimming Pool Leak Detection: Cracks in the Pool
The problem with cracks is they are often pinhole size to start. However, they do grow over time and become visible. Most cracks are typical, however, if your pool is a concrete pool, resurfacing should happen about every 15 years. Use the dye test (written about below) to see if the water is leaking from cracks.
Tip #6 pH is not Balancing
If you are having difficulty keeping the pH balanced and you have added the chemicals to the pool to help, this could indicate a leak.
Tip #7 Swimming Pool Leak Detection: Lights in the Pool Can Leak
If you have lights in the pool, there is a possibility that these can be leaking and is quite common. If the seal is not secure around the light, try a dye test to see if this is the culprit. There is often leaking in the conduit that leads to the junction box and filling the light niche with pool putty to stop the leak.
Tip #8 Skimmer is Prone to Leaks
Concrete pools– when you take the lid off the skimmer, check the mouth of the skimmer on the grout to see if there are any missing pieces. If there are, there can be a leak. The cement seal between the pool wall and skimmer can also break. You can use a dye test and then make the repair with pool putty for a temporary fix or a pool patch for a more permanent fix.
Get into the pool and go down to the main drain. Use a screwdriver to get the lid off the main drain. Squirt dye in there to see if there is a leak. You can also clean the drain while you are there if you see algae growing. This may be difficult to do so calling a professional might be better.
Vinyl pools-tighten all the screws with a Philips screwdriver on the faceplate. They can leak water where they are sealed to the wall. This again can be checked by doing a dye test.
What to Do if You Think There is a Leak:
- Clean and vacuum the pool first to make sure the water is clean and you can spot large cracks or leaks.
- Make sure the water in the pool is full past the skimmer. If the pool is not full, how can you tell if there is a leak?
- Do a dye test to see if there is a leak by buying a dye test kit.
- Turn off the water to the pool and let it calm.
- Apply the dye to the suspected area
- If the dye dissipates, there is probably no leak. If it is sucked into the area where there may be a leak, then further investigation is needed. Sometimes the tests are not 100% correct so you may need to rule out other areas.
If there is a leak, don’t fret, these can often be fixed with silicone, plaster mix, or pool putty. Larger cracks down the wall may need more materials and time such as using a sealant that is injected and then a plaster mix to keep it inside the crack.
Areas Known to Leak
Vinyl Liner – Vinyl Pools Only
If there is a hole or rip in a vinyl liner, it can leak. Liners can last from 8 -20 years, depending on their durability and use. This can happen with something as simple as a toy with a sharp edge near the liner, or an animal gets into the pool to chew the liner.
Filters need to be maintained and cleaned often. In addition, repairing and replacing will happen over the years.
The pool pump can fail when the pool is on or off. There are two sides of a pool pump:
- Pressure Side– indicators this is the side that has a leak is cloudy water, floating skimmer basket, bubbles or air in the strainer, more vacuuming, pump is not working or low flow rate.
- Suction Side– water is spraying, leaking, or dripping at the connection site. There is water pooling around the pump, water loss, and water damage to the pool deck and yard.
Swimming Pool Leak Detection: Why Fix These Issues
If the issues go on, the fill dirt under the pool can shift and not support the pool anymore. This can have a domino effect with the walls and pool deck collapsing. This can be a safety issue as well as high costs to repair. Being mindful of what is happening around the pool is important.
Additional Ways to Keep People Safe in Your Pool
If you just bought the home and not sure if the pool is up to par, contact a professional to check it out. While you are at it, if you have not had a home inspection, it is a great time to do that so the inspector can make sure the plumbing, foundation, etc. areas are all functioning how they should be. If the home inspector has some concerns about the pool, he/she will recommend a pool company to investigate further.
Alarm or Fence to Keep People Safe
Besides the maintenance of the pool and the upkeep, you want to make sure the pool is safe for your family and visitors. Installing an alarm on the door or windows, or having a fence around the pool is ideal. You don’t want there to be any accidents. It is a great idea to make sure all children near the pool know how to swim so there are no dangerous situations.
Call a Professional
If you are not able to fix the pool issues yourself, call a professional. Ask your pool maintenance person if he/she is able to fix it. If not, ask for a recommendation for a person or company to fix it. Pool filters and other components have many different parts and may be difficult to figure out. Consulting a pool expert will be worth your time and money.
Take into consideration your environment, latest climate, and the evaporation rate in your area as to what may be happening with your pool. Also, finding a leak in the swimming pool can be difficult but the ideas listed above give you information on how to do just that. Keeping an eye on the day-to-day function of the pool is a good idea and will help you find any problems early. Have questions about your swimming pool, or need a referral for a pool professional? Contact us or leave a reply below and we can help!