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The Do It Yourself Guide to Pool Leaks

When you suspect a pool leak, it’s a good idea to trust your instincts. You know your pool, and if you’re seeing an abnormal water loss, there’s likely a problem. Many people want to locate the leak themselves, which is why we’ve provided you with a guide to help you try to do it yourself. As expert pool leak detectors, we’ll advise you on:

  1. How to Find a Leak in an Inground Pool
  2. How to Find a Leak in an Above ground Pool
  3. and How to Find a Leak in a Pool Liner

At The Waterboy, our expert leak detectors use varied methods of pool leak detection including electromagnetic pipe locators, infrared thermal imaging, electronic and ultrasonic sound tracing, and nitrogen pressure tests. Unfortunately, most homeowners do not have access to these tools, so we’ve tailored our guide to reflect items that most homeowners would have or could access easily.

How to Find a Leak in an Inground Pool using “the bucket test”

Regardless of the material of your pool, whether vinyl, tile or marble, there are multiple areas that are vulnerable to leaks. The simplest and most effective way to check for a leak in an inground pool is commonly called “the bucket test”. The bucket test is simple and will help you determine whether the changing water levels are due to a leak or evaporation. To perform this test, you’ll need a bucket and a permanent marker.

The first step is to fill the bucket with water and place it on the top step of your pool. Fill it so that the level of the water in the bucket is up to the equal height of the pool’s water level. Next, use the marker on the inside of the bucket to note where the water level sits. Do the same thing with the water level of the pool, marking the outside of the bucket. We also recommend placing a rock or a paperweight in the bottom of the bucket to prevent it from overturning or shifting away from the top step.

Next, you’ll turn off your pool pump and wait 2 days. After 48 hours, return to check the levels of the bucket. If the water levels are the same, it means that you’re probably dealing with normal evaporation. If the water levels are different, you’ll need to investigate further. It’s very likely that you may have a leak.

The process of leak detection involves a lot of trial and error. Pools often leak from the return lines or the skimmer lines. The return line is your pool’s circulation system that takes water from your pool, filters it, heats it, and returns is back to your pool. A skimmer line is used to circulate water from the top of the pool, removing debris from the surface.

To determine which system may be causing a problem, you’ll need a set of inexpensive plugs to cover the return lines, which are the jets of the pool. Again, you’ll need to wait 2 days to see if the water level has changed.  If it has, you may need to look at the skimmer. You can reuse the plugs you purchased for the return lines and block the skimmer line access. If the leak has stopped, it’s a sign that the problem is in the skimmer line. Unfortunately, skimmer lines are still rather extensive and will require a pressure test to find the location of the hole.

How to Find a Leak in an Above Ground Pool

One of the most difficult tasks, even for experienced pool leak detectors, is learning how to find a leak in an above ground pool. Above ground pools have their own specific set of challenges to keep in mind. Although it is very easy to repair a leak in an above ground pool, they can be nearly impossible to find.

We suggest examining the pool equipment first. Turning on the pool pump makes it easier to spot the problem because it places pressure on the leak. While you’re working on the pump, make sure to look at the areas around the pump. You should try to locate the shaft seal which is 2 pieces, a head with a spring and a ceramic ring. The purpose of the shaft seal is to prevent water from seeping along the shaft and draining out behind the impeller. A leaking shaft seal may also be directing water into the ground, so it’s a good idea to pat the nearby area to check for signs of moisture.

If the leak didn’t originate from the pump, how do you find a leak in an above ground pool? Start outside of the pool. Examine the base of the pool to try to locate any wet spots or visible cracks. Next, it’s time to suit up! Grab your goggles and hop in to check the inside of the pool. Go slowly and look carefully to see if you can spot an area with water loss. If you cannot find the leak, it’s time contact a pool leak detector. In many cases, a leak detector can help you save money by preventing you from replacing the pool liner unnecessarily.

How to Find a Leak in a Pool Liner

If you’ve done a search for “how to find a leak in a pool liner”, chances are, you already suspect that’s the location of the leak. Pool lines generally leak as a result of punctures, holes, tears or other damage.  The most important thing to know about finding a leak in a pool liner is that it will require a lot of patience. Some evaporation is normal, but a leaking liner can quickly raise the water bill. You’ll also find yourself spending more money on pool chemicals, which can result from filling your pool with untreated water.

Firstly, if you have an inground pool, you’ll want to perform the bucket test described above. Even if you already suspect the leak is in the liner, it’s still a good idea to rule out evaporation as a possible cause.

By far the least expensive strategy to find a leak in a pool liner is to put on googles and carefully examine the walls of the pool. If you can see a visible crack or tear, you’ll know you’ve found the problem! Unfortunately, this strategy is mostly based on luck because leaks can be invisible to the naked eyes.

If you have already performed the bucket test, or if you have an above ground pool, you can turn to biodegradable dyes. The dye can’t help you locate the exact source of the leak, but by slowly distributing the dye around the edge of the pool, you’ll be able to determine whether there is a spot that sucks in the dye quickly. If this is the case, then you can look more closely at that area to try to find the exact point where the leak is happening.

As we all know, sometimes do-it-yourself isn’t always the cheaper option. Leak detection is a difficult process and it can be nearly impossible without the right tools for the job. If you’ve been unable to locate the leak using the above methods, give us a call and we’ll see if we ca help you.

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