How To Detect A Leak In Your Pool

Pool leaks are a common issue and they can often be tough to solve for a lot of pool owners. With the right knowledge, however, you can locate and fix them quickly.

The thing about pool leaks is that they can occur practically anywhere inside and outside of the pool. The most significant challenge is often locating the leak. I will give you some strategies for finding leaks and for discovering if you have a leak or if the problem is just evaporation.

Common Signs of a Leaking Pool

The most obvious sign of a leaking pool is water loss. However, other symptoms can also tell you that you’ve got a leak in your pool. Watch out for the following signs.

The Water Level Goes Down

A pool leak will lead to a drop in water level. However, a change in water levels does not always mean that your pool is leaking. Pools lose water naturally through evaporation.

You have to figure out if the change in pool water levels is due to a leak or simple evaporation. Evaporation rates vary from one place to another due to differences in climate. Even in the same place, rates can vary due to factors like water temperature, humidity, and wind.

You should know the average evaporation rate in your area by looking at current weather data. If you’re getting far more water loss than evaporation averages, then there is a high chance you’re looking at a pool leak.

You Have Cracks In Your Tiles or Falling Tiles

When a pool leaks, the surrounding ground becomes unstable due to all the excess water. As a result, the tiles surrounding the pool may crack or begin to move. If you find gaps and cracks, it might mean a leak has been going on for a while, and the water has seeped farther outward.

You Have Wet Spots In Your Yards

Wet areas are yet another tell-tale sign that you might have leaks. Uneven grass or muddy spots near the pool may indicate a pool leak. As the water moves underground, it erodes the soil and causes the landscaping above to shift or even sink.

Your Water Bill Is Higher Than Normal

Having an automatic pool filling device can hide a pool leak by ensuring the pool stays full. However, if the device is getting triggered to start more frequently than usual, and your water bills will rise. Higher water bills, without another explanation, could be a sign of a leak.

There Is Water Under Equipment

Signs of severe corrosion on pipes and pumps near the pool or stagnant water (despite there being no recent rainfall) typically mean your pool is leaking.

Dirt or Air Passing Into The Pool Through a Pump

A leak will make it easier for air and dirt to get pulled into the pool’s plumbing. The underwater air release often comes with an inexplicable gurgling noise. It is a sure sign of a leak.

Algae In Your Pool

Algae growth comes when new and untreated water gets added to a leaking pool. This untreated water leads to fluctuations in chemical levels that might encourage the development of algae. Rather than continue to treat the water, you can consider looking for a leak instead.

What Causes Swimming Pool Leaks?

Pools can last for decades if you care for and maintain them properly. That said, issues can occur, and some of these problems can cause leaking. The three leading causes of pool leaks are structural flaws, fitting faults, and plumbing problems.

Structural Leaks

A structural leak is a leak in the pool wall itself. For your average concrete pool, this means a crack in the shell. Structural leaks come from various factors, including ground movement, subpar engineering, pressure from groundwater, shifting soil, and alternative cycles of freezing and thawing that wear on the concrete.

Fitting Leaks

A fitting is anything that penetrates the pool’s shell, such as jets, skimmers, and lights. Since concrete pools are not watertight, fittings increase the chances of a leak happening.

When a fitting gets inserted into the pool’s walls, the builders typically plaster around it. These plastered areas are vulnerable to leaks.

Plumbing Leaks

The plumbing in a pool can be quite fragile and so must be correctly installed. These fixtures need to be secure since any movement could lead to a leak either in the piping or the pool shell.

Plumbing leaks are mostly from the plumbing system’s movement, which may be caused by settling of the ground near a pipe or corrosion.

How to Locate The Leak In Your Pool

There are two main ways to detect a pool leak. The most popular once is known as the bucket method, and the other involves food coloring.

Bucket Method

The bucket test is the simplest option. To employ the bucket method, you get a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with water from the pool. Then, you submerge it in the water so that its water level matches that of the pool.

Now, turn your pump off and leave the bucket in the water for 24 hours. If you come back after 24 hours and the bucket’s water level is higher than the water level in the pool, the pool leaks.

This method is excellent because it helps to eliminate the possibility that the pool’s water level is changing due to evaporation.

Food Coloring

If you’ve got a strong suspicion that your pool has a leak, food coloring can help you know for sure. All you have to do is get some food coloring and squeeze it near any cracks. It would help if you also did this around fittings, such as the return, drain, lights, and the mouth of the skimmer.

If there is a leak, the food coloring will get sucked into the cracks and fissures.

If neither of the two methods above work, but you still have a strong suspicion, consider calling an expert to check for leaks.

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Options For Fixing A Leak In Your Pool

What do you do once you discover a leak?

Fixing Leaking Pool Pipes

Leaking pipes will often have water pooling underneath them. For these, you can plug the crack or hole with 100% silicone sealant and Teflon tape.

Fixing Leaking Pool Skimmers

Leaking pool skimmers are typically from the skimmer separating from the shell’s concrete. To be sure, submerge the skimmer by an inch or more. Turn off the pump and use the food coloring method to check if the skimmer leaks.

You can seal it with underwater repair putty from a hardware store or pool supply store if it does leak.

Fixing Pool Liner Leaks

This method applies to above-ground vinyl liner pools. As long as the tear isn’t too large, a temporary solution is to apply duct tape to the rip. You need to use a vinyl patch kit for a more permanent fix, which you can get from a local hardware or pool store. Read my article on how to find an above ground pool liner leak too.

These options are assuming you know how to use these repair materials. If you feel unsure, it is best to call in an expert. For vinyl pools, getting a patch kit is easiest (if the repair is small). For larger repairs, read my full article on replacing a vinyl pool liner. For concrete pools, read my guide on pool plaster repair.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, the critical thing to know is that any pool leak can be fixed and should not be a cause for panic. In most cases, you can fix the issue yourself without spending too much. By detecting a leak and applying the appropriate measures mentioned here, you should be able to enjoy your pool again.

Have questions? Send me a note, we’ll be glad to help.

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