How To Find a Leak in an Above Ground Pool

Written by Michael Dean
May 29, 2023

above ground pool leak

One of the significant downsides of an above ground pool is the possibility of leakage. Because the liner is generally made of thin vinyl, it can easily be punctured by sharp objects or even worn down from constant exposure to pool chemicals. Thankfully, you can easily fix pool leaks if you notice them early on, so it is important to learn the warning signs of a leak.

In this article, I will go over how to find a leak in your above ground pool liner and what to do when you find one. For more tips on this topic, read my main article on pool leak detection.

Main Takeaways

  • Leaks can be difficult to find, so carefully check the entire pool, including the pool equipment, for leaks.
  • To find leaks in the vinyl liner, check the area around the pool, but if you still can’t find the leak, use the bucket method or ink method to locate the leak.
  • When you find the leak in your pool, use waterproof tape, vinyl patches, and/or patch kits.

First Stop: Equipment Checks

Some leaks may not be as apparent as others, so you can’t expect to automatically find the area where the leak is. You will need to check the pool liner and equipment thoroughly if you suspect a leak in your vinyl liner.

When a leak is present, it won’t always appear in the vinyl liner. A tear can also occur in the pool’s pump or any piping. So check the piping and look for wetness on or around the equipment. Dry any wet areas with a towel and watch to see if it becomes wet again.

Leaks in your pool system can be tough to detect, so you must be very diligent when checking the area. Check the pump, piping, return line, skimmer, and filter for leaks.

How To Find Leaks in the Vinyl Liner

If you have already carefully checked all of your pool equipment for leaks and have not detected anything, it is time to move on to checking the liner itself. This is a more complicated task, and there are a few different methods that I would recommend for finding the location of a leak in your pool. I recommend contacting a pool professional if you are uncomfortable with the process.

Check the Area Around the Pool

The region around your above ground pool may signal where the leakage is happening. You may find a puddle forming under a profuse leak, or the area may be damp in a less severe leak. If you still cannot pinpoint the exact location of the leak, don’t worry. I have a few easy methods that can help.

Step one: Use a bucket to detect a leak

Place a large bucket in the pool water, about three-quarters submerged. Usually, I would place the bucket on one of the steps. Fill the bucket up so that it is even with the water level. After the bucket is filled and put in the right place, use a strip of duct tape or a permanent marker to mark the water line in the bucket. Then turn the pump off and return to the bucket after about 24 hours. If the water level of the bucket and the pool are still matching, you likely do not have a leak. But if the pool’s water level is lower than the bucket, there is a leak at the level where the water stopped draining.

To check for a leak in the pool’s plumbing, carry out this test while the pump is running. If you notice the water level decreasing, you likely have a leak in the piping or pump.

Step two: Use ink to find the exact area where the leak is

Most pool stores will sell a leak detection kit with a special dye and a syringe. This is used to find the exact location of the leak so that you can patch up your pool.

After using the bucket to detect a leak, you know the general height at which the leakage occurs. Do a lap around the pool and carefully recheck the walls for any signs of a leak. Once you think you have found it, you can break out the dye and get in the water.

When using the leak finder, make sure you don’t disturb the water too much. The pool water needs to be very calm to be an accurate test. Squirt the dye-filled syringe toward the wall where you suspect the leak to be. If a leak is present, you will notice the dye moving toward the wall.

I recommend doing this test a couple of times to ensure the leak is where you suspect it is.

Once you confirm the leak is in a specific area, mark the exact location with duct tape on both sides of the pool. Doing this is important so that you don’t fix the wrong spot when you patch up the leak.

What To Do When You Find the Leak in Your Pool

Once you have located the leak, you need to patch it or risk further damage to your swimming pool. Depending on the leak size, there are a few different methods you can use to patch up the leak.

Waterproof Tape

If you are dealing with a small leak, you can use tape to fix it. Using waterproof tape is the easiest and cheapest option. You will have to replace the tape occasionally, but they are super easy to apply and very effective for small leaks.

Vinyl Patches

Vinyl patches are another super easy way to patch up holes in above ground pools. These patches simply need to be stuck onto the pool wall, and then you are good to go. They generally last longer than waterproof tape because they are more durable and designed specifically to patch punctures in pools.

Patch Kits

Patch kits are for larger holes that are not easily fixed with waterproof tape or vinyl patches. A patch kit includes larger pieces of vinyl liner that can be shaped to a specific hole. The kits also include a waterproof vinyl adhesive. Patch kits are more complicated than the other two methods, but they are necessary for larger holes.

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Bottom Line

If your above ground pool seems to be losing water faster than usual, you may have a leak on your hands. Although it can be time-consuming to find the leak’s location, repairing the hole itself is pretty easy. If you have tried and failed to patch up a leak in your pool, I recommend contacting a pool professional to prevent further damage to your liner, or else you may have to drain the entire above ground pool.

If you need to search for a new above ground pool or liner, check out my recommendations for the top above ground pools on the market and guides on how to replace your pool liner and how long your above ground pool should last.

Any questions about above ground pools? Feel free to reach out!

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