Just imagine – you walk into your backyard on a beautiful summer day, slip off your flip flops, and get ready to dive into the shimmering water of your pool.
But you hesitate because something doesn’t look right. Is your pool water level lower than usual? Could there be a leak in your pool?
The first thing is to do is not panic! Although any leak should be repaired to maximize your pool’s energy efficiency, not to mention your enjoyment of it, it’s best to first make sure there actually is a leak.
If there is a leak, it’s a good idea to try and narrow down where it might be to minimize the time and cost it may take to repair it.
Testing for Pool Leaks
You don’t need scuba equipment or be a pool technician to diagnose and possibly locate a leak. All you need is some time and patience, and these four simple steps :
Step 1: The 2-inch Rule
Pool owners in Southern Ontario can’t always count on cooperative swimming weather, but they can count on one thing: pool water evaporation.
Why does this matter? During the swimming season in this part of the province, normal water evaporation will be a general maximum of 1/4 inch every day, or about 2 inches per week. This means that the drop in your water level may not be because of a leak at all, but rather due to simple evaporation.
Here’s how you can measure your water loss level:
- Fill your pool to the normal level
- Mark the level with vinyl tape
- After one week, measure the difference between the original mark and the current pool water level
If the difference is 2 inches or less, your water is probably just evaporating and there is no leak. Great!
But if the difference is greater than 2 inches, you may have a pool leak.
There are some variables that could affect the outcome of this test. For example, pools that have a waterfall or vanishing edge, or are exposed to all day sunlight or heated far above the air temperature, may lose more than 2 inches of water per week. Covered pools will lose less, but bather splashing will cause more.
Although the 2-inch rule is a great guideline, it’s by no means an exact science. Which is why we now move on to step 2.
Step 2: The Bucket Test
Let’s double-check the results from step 1 with another simple test using a high-tech tool known as a bucket:
- Fill the pool to its normal level
- Fill a bucket with water to the 3/4 level and mark the level inside the bucket with a vinyl tape or magic marker
- Place the bucket on the first or second step of the stairs inside the pool (if you don’t have a stairs, place the bucket on the deck near the edge of the pool out of direct sunlight)
- Shut off your pool pump
- Mark the water level in the pool on the outside of the bucket, or if the bucket is on the deck mark the pool water level at the skimmer using vinyl tape
- Turn pool pump back on
- 24 – 48 hours later, compare the two levels
If the pool water level goes down the same amount as the bucket water level, there is no leak.
But if the pool water goes down more than the bucket water level, there is probably a leak.
If the results of these two steps suggested that there is a leak, we now need to determine where the leak is. That brings us to step 3.
Step 3: Inspecting the Pool
So now that we suspect a leak, let’s take a walk around the pool to look for the following irregularities:
- Waterlogged/moist lawn around the pool deck
- Cracks in the fibreglass stairs or in your concrete pool’s wall
- Holes/tears/wrinkles in your vinyl liner
- Spongy/soft spot under your liner
- Air bubbles coming out of the pool jets
If you see one or more of these problems, you may have found the source of the leak, which you can report to your pool repair technician.
If you found none of these, let’s move on to step 4.
Step 4: The Liner vs. Plumbing Test
Pool leaks usually come from one of two places: either in liner/shell or the pool plumbing system. This final set of steps will help you figure out which one is causing the problem:
- Turn off your pool system
- Fill up your pool and mark the water level
- Remove the jets and put the winterizing plugs in the jets and the skimmer
- Wait 36 hours
- Check if your pool water level has dropped
If the pool water level has dropped, the leak is likely in your liner/shell or main drain (if you have one).
If the pool water level has stayed the same, the leak is likely in the plumbing lines of your pool.
Fixing Your Pool Leak
The best way to fix that pool leak is to not do it yourself. This is the kind of job you should leave to professional pool experts who have access to the latest in pool leak detection equipment, as well as high-quality replacement parts that will seal that leak up tight.
When it comes to pool leaks, put away the duct tape and call in the team at Lakeshore Pools & Hot Tubs. You can reach us (905) 891-8818, or visit our store at 309 Lakeshore East in Mississauga. With over 60 years in the pool business, we’ll take care good care of your pool so you can get back to enjoying it.