A pool owners guide to leak detection

Read time approx 10 min or less.

It is exciting when you purchase a new home with a pool or are installing a new pool. The list of fun in the sun activities with family & friends seems endless. Although the fun is at the very top of the list, owning a pool is a commitment. 

Taking proper care of your pool not only means keeping it clean, maintaining proper water chemistry and assuring all the equipment is working properly, it also includes keeping an eye out for any signs of a pool leak. 

It isn’t enough to outsource your pool maintenance in leak detection, you need to be aware of what risk factors to look for. 

Pool leaks, the true costs

A leaking pool could lead to the need for multiple repairs, and the longer a leak goes un-noticed, the more costly it will become. From the cause and leak detection of the original leak, the repair, increased water bill, damage to the pool area and possibly a neighbors property, the costs can add up rather quickly. 

Generally a water loss of more than 1/4″ per day means there is probably a leak somewhere in the pool. This is equal to 1 1/2″ per week. As this is only a small facrtion of the water that is in your pool, it is very hard to eyeball any loss and is why you must learn to determine if you have a leak.  

How much will that pool leak cost in my water bill?

Having a pool leak could lead to a long list of related expenses. One sign of a possible leak is a sudden jump in your water bill. 

Now an increase could mean a repair is needed elsewhere in your home, but your pool should be very high on the list of areas to check. The increase would be well above the normal pool season increase. 

A pinhole size leak in your pool could cause a loss of as much as 970 gallons of water per day! Thats more than 4 times the amount of water a family of 4 drinks in a week. That’s a lot of water!

Locating the leak

There are many areas that a leak may occur in a pool, so becoming familiar with your pool is an absolute must! Even if you currently use a pool maintenance company whom should be checking for leaks, you should know what to look for yourself as some leaks are easy to find, others are not. 

  • Losing more water than normal evaporation – between splashing, pool use and the weather, noting water loss is difficult to identify. However, if you see more water loss than normal evaporation, you may have a leak. 
  • Air in the system – if there are air bubbles coming from the return lines in your pool, there is probably a leak somewhere in the filtration system. 
  • Visible cracks – cracks often begin as tiny pinholes or cracks so small it is oftentime difficult to see. By the time a carck is noticed, you already have a leak.
  • Lifting or sinking of the pool deck – underground leaks can lead to water pooling that can damamge your decking. Any noticed damage may not be simple wear and tear but a possible pool leak.
  • Soggy areas near pool – An area that is soggy may not be due to rain or even a leaky sprinkler, it may mean a large leak.
  • Frequent addition of water – if you are frequently adding water to your pool or your autofill is running continuosly, you likely have a leak.

Testing for a leak

If you suspect a leak, there are a couple of DIY tests that a pool owner can do to confirm a leak is present. 

  • Dye test – the best use of this test is if there is a visible crack in your pool. A simple dye test can be purchased at your local pool store. This test should be performed with the pool off and water that has no movement. Using the dye to see if it dissapates or is sucked into the suspect area. 
  • Bucket test – to perform this test all you need is a large bucket, a brick or rock and duct tape or a marker. Oh and did I mention water? This test should be done when there is a 24-48 hour time span that there is no rain in the forecast and that no one will need to use the pool. 

Pool areas prone to leaks

  • Liner – each liner has a different lifespan, it doesn’t matter if the company sold you on a thicker, stronger liner, there are factors that will determine the lifespan of each liner. Pool usage, proper cleaning and maintaining proper water chemistry play a large role in whether your liner will last 8 yrs or 20 yrs.
  • Filter – If you find a leak at the filter, an immediate cleaning, repair or complete replacement is required. 
  • Pump – If your pool pump fails, it may cause a damaging and costly leak. If you are able to catch a pump leak early, it may be possible to repair your current pump. If left un-noticed the pump will need to be replaced. 

Pressure side leak signs

  • Cloudy water
  • Floating skimmer basket
  • Air bubbles
  • Frequently needing to vacuum
  • Low flow rate
  • Pump struggling or not not working 

Suction side 

  • Leaking water at connection of pipe to pump
  • Rapid water loss
  • Signs of water damage

Leak repair

Filter leaks may be easy to identify as you can see a crack, hole or water pooling. Once any of these are noticed, it is time to call a pool professional to have the filter repaired or replaced.

Why choose a professional leak detector

Sand filters may appear to be very basic, however they have many components that a professional will know to test to ensure all working properly. Patching a filter is not an option as these patches generally don’t hold. 

Idea behind this guide

The idea behind this guide to pool leaks is to assist the pool owner in taking an active role in maintaining their pool and to provide information to help in determining if you indeed have a pool leak. 

Elite is regularly providing our customers helpful information via our blog