Pool Leak 3 or 4 inches in 3 days

Leaks in the pool, plumbing, filtration system, skimmer, ...
Finding & repairing swimming pool leaks.
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Pool Leak 3 or 4 inches in 3 days

Postby kelkerlin » Tue 19 Sep, 2006 10:03

no water standing anywhere in yard or around pool equipment...older pool...it is losing water with pump NOT running. I am convinced that i am just going to let the level drop until i can locate the leak myself. I am not going to pay for someone to come out.

Is it relatively easy to patch the holes with epoxy myself?

Anyone got any pointers?


Pool Leak 3 or 4 inches in 3 days

Postby Guest » Sun 24 Sep, 2006 03:48

You don't say much about the pool construction or type. I assume, since you mention epoxy that it is "not" a pool equipped with a vinyl liner. Rather, it is a gunite, fiberglass, concrete or other solid surface pool. As such, I have a couple of suggestions for you.

First: In an effort to determine if the leak is within an underground line, or in the pools surface itself ..... Plug all of the pool lines - at the pool. Remove any eyeball fitting from the inlets and using either threaded plugs or rubber plugs with wing nuts, plug and seal all of the lines leading from the pool - the return lines, the skimmer line, a pool sweep line - if there is one, and even the main drain line.

(Note: While most pool drains have a removable grating or cover which allows access to the drain line and a relief valve, there are some out there that don't. If you cannot "plug" the bottom drain line, it should be possible to "cover" the drain opening itself - at least enough to severely slow/if not completely halt any water passage. Plastic wrap and a sand bag can work well for this.)

Once the lines are all plugged - watch your water level for a day and see if it continues dropping ... if it does, at least you've eliminated the underground lines as the problem.

If plugging the lines "stops" the water loss, then you know the trouble is in one of the underground lines .... then the idea is to determine which is the culprit. If the skimmer or drain lines are the culprit, then you should - with the rate of loss you mentioned, find it very difficult to pick up prime. If you do move water at all, you will see lots and lots of air in the pump trap. In that event, close first one feed line, then the other and see if the air volume disappears or lessens (ie - close the drain and run only off the skimmer to see if the skimmer primes good, then close the skimmer and run only off the drain to check the drain feed.)

Presupposing that any line leak will likely be in the returns, with the inlets closed, if you have or can borrow a small air compressor, Add air pressure to the lines - if the line is sealed at the inlets and at the equipment - there is only one place for the excess pressure to go - through the broken pipe. If you listen carefully and walk the path of the pipe, you should hear the mixed gurgling of the air and water as it exits through the break (Even underground and through a cement deck).

"If", on the other hand, all of your lines are plugged and you are still losing water, then you are dealing with a pool shell leak of some kind. The first thing I would check - since you said the pool is old, is the Relief Valve in the main drain of the pool. Years ago, they were made of brass. While a very hardy metal and one that will last for years and years, pool chemicals "are" caustic and "will" eventually eat away at the metal of those old valves. Newer valves are plastic - but will sometimes get a bit of grit between the spring-loaded top and the rubber gasket that seals them.

Want a way to test and see if water is going through "anything" that looks like a crack or possible hole in the pool surface? You can use food coloring or the red ph testing dye from your water testing kit. Place the tip of the open bottle next to what you suspect may be a leak and squeeze gently (the idea is to "spurt" just a tiny bit of the colored fluid into the water next to the suspected spot. Food Coloring and the testing dye will float within the water for long seconds before they dissipate and mix. In those seconds, if water is indeed passing through the place you suspect, you will see the "dye" flow through the leak with the escaping water.

(Note: If you use the ph dye from your test kit - you can never again use it to test the ph of your pool water. Water from the pool will have gotten into the bottle with the chemical and will have diluted the chemical - making all reading inaccurate. Mark it for leak testing only and buy another ph test chemical for your test kit.)

With surface leaks, except in the cases of the most severe, you will find that most can be plugged using epoxy putty. Most pool houses and hardwares carry putties that can actually be applied underwater - without draining the water from the pool.

Except in the case of the relief valve - if the leak is in the relief vavle, "get it replaced with a new one". the relief valve is a safety device for the protection of your swimming pool.

Essentially, a swimming pool is a giant boat hull or bath tub sunken into the ground. If the water level inside of the pool is low and the ground water outside of the pool is high enough - a pool can literally float out of the ground - just like the hull of a boat on a lake. The relief valve is meant to "let ground water into the pool" should the outside water pressure rise sufficiently to endanger the pool.

When using Epoxy putties, keep one thing in mind .... If the leak is near the bottom of the pool (like in the edging where the plastic or metal drain housing meets the surrounding gunite or concrete) then you have the pressure of all that water in the pool "pushing" through the leak. With a 20 X 40 pool, that can be 30,000 gallons of water pressure pushing to get out. The idea is to mix the two parts of the putty and then press resulting mix into the leak, filling and plugging it. When you try to seal the leak, underwater, don't try to simply "cover" the leaking area with a large glob of putty .... rather, take small portions and try to "force" it into the crack/hole/whatever .... trying to fill it as much as possible until you can't force any more into it. Then take a small portion and "cap" it, pressing down firmly and smoothing/feathering the edges of the putty into the surrounding pool surface. The smoother the transition, the less likely anything is to come loose again later.

Additional note - there are two types of epoxy putty avaliable for you to use. There are "sticks" of putty where you simply cut equal portions and rub them together in your palms to mix them. these are immediately available for use, once mixed and usually give you a working time of fifteen to twenty minutes. The other type comes in cans. There will be one can labelled "A" and a second labelled "B". Again, you mix equal portions, however, you don't want to mix this in your hands .... use a piece of cardboard and a popsicle stick and mix the two parts thoroughly. Once mixed - if you are going to use this underwater - it will not immediately do the job you want .... When first mixed, it is more fluid than the "stick" type - kind of like cookie dough and trying to immediately use it will only see it pushed through the crack/leak by the water pressure. You need to let this tyope "cure" for a few minutes - until it begins to stiffen up, Then it will do the job for you without being pushed through by the water pressure.

As to which is better? Both "can and will" usually do the job. But I personally prefer the canned Epoxy Putty. Takes more time and work, but if "sticks" when the stick type won't and can be smoothed and worked better - to my personal experience.

I hope this in some way helps.


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