pin hole leaks

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Finding & repairing swimming pool leaks.

pin hole leaks

Postby elenach » Fri 14 Nov, 2008 11:17

Our above the ground pool is five years old. This past August we discovered a pin hole leak on the lower side of the wall. The water was squirting out the side, so it was easy to find the hole in the liner. We patched the hole and everything was fine. Two weeks later we winterized and covered the pool. Shortly after, we discovered another pin hole on the same wall. I have been told that these pin holes in the wall are caused from rust and that the rust will spread, so we will be patching the liner constantly. I have also been told that the leak in the pool causes the rust and if I repair the liner, it will be okay. I have also been told that it could be termites eating my liner.

Which came first, the rust or the leak? And, is sit true about termites?


Above Ground Liner Leaks

Postby Guest » Mon 24 Nov, 2008 15:18

Beyond above ground, you haven't really identified the pool type. I am assuming, since you mentioned "rust" that this is a standard aluminum walled above ground pool and not one of the new all-vinyl shells that either support themselves or are supported by PVC piping. Wooden walled pool are also out since wood does not rust, it rots.


Rust causing the leak .... While possible this is not really likely in a pool only five years old. Normally, before the rust reaches the stage that it will begin puncturing a liner, it builds to the point that it forces an impression of itself to show under the liner itself. Like rust bubbling up under the paint of a car body. While aluminum will rust, the factory coatings applied to the walls for an above ground pool are highly resistant. Water alone normally does not cause it until the coating itself is damaged, removed or worn away. Minerals in the ground can cause this, but only where the ground touches - minerals do not crawl up walls looking for a weak spot. Pool chemicals can cause it but are prevented from contacting the wall by the liner itself. It takes a leak in the liner, and time, for the pool chemicals to affect the coating and begin the rusting process higher up a pool wall.

More likely, the leak is from an external source.

Termites causing the leak ... While it is true that there are now a fair number of insects that can consume plastics, there are none (that I am aware of) that will attack plastic just to consume the plastic or vinyl. Something attracts them there first - like the electrical current in household and other wiring. I consider this unlikely because of one other thing you mentioned. -- The water was squirting out the side of the pool.

No insect or bug or grub that I know of will eat it's way through both aluminum and vinyl. AND ... there should be no open holes in the sides of an aluminum pool wall, save for those intentionally put there by the manufacturer or your pool installer. These ware used for mounting the skimmer and inlet or other pool fittings.

If these are some kind of "open" pre-existing hole, then my first supposition (if the hole in the liner lines up with it): is that the water pressure, in trying to stretch the flexible liner through the hole, caused the liner to be cut by the aluminum wall itself. Any such hole or edge to the wall itself, should have been covered with a piece of duct tape before the liner was put in place - as protection for the thin material of the liner.

The reason I am "assuming" that the liner leak and whatever hole is in the aluminum wall, line up, is the actual "squirting" you describe. With a normal leak the water tends to run down the inside of the pool wall and "go to ground" at the base of the wall - with no sign of it on the outside wall.

My next step would be to look for any signs of "dimpling", in the aluminum wall, around the edges of "Squirt" area. Whether inward or outwards, this would be an indication of external damage, whether accidental or intentional. it is almost impossible to make a hole in a pools aluminum wall without some sign of dimpling.

If there are more or other holes through the aluminum wall, especially if there are any signs of the liner through them, then I will suggest one of two things be done .... first and best, would be to lower the water level below the hole, take loose the liner in that area and reach down between the liner and the aluminum wall and cover the hole with a piece of duct tape. This is not the easiest repair though, since it can be difficult to get the liner positioned back properly once it has been loosened. Alternately, you can locate where these locations are "inside" of the pool and "Pre-patch" them. Cover the area with a patch on the inside of the liner essentially "thickening it" and providing more protection in that way. If you check at your local pool store (where they sell pools) you can ask if they have any liner "samples" (in a matching color to your pool) that they can let you have or sell you to use as patching material. A much better option than that clear plastic stuff that comes in most pool repair kits.

I have worked on and with swimming pools for 25+ years.

-- Ray --

pin hole leaks

Postby holeinpool2 » Sun 01 Feb, 2009 16:16

Thanks Ray....your info on pool leaks was very reassuring. I was just outside and noticied this thin stream of water squirting from my pool. I was mortified. But thanks to you, I feel much better and I feel better about fixing it this spring.

Pin hole leaks

Postby jellak » Fri 10 Apr, 2009 01:21

The clear plastic patches are real thin compared to the liner. Surely it would look better to have the low profile patch.

If I add the duct tape, won't the water soften the glue over time and then I'll have the same problem again?

pin hole leaks

Postby Poolguy101 » Fri 11 Sep, 2009 18:40

Please keep in mind that when pin hole leaks appear on the exterior walls of aluminum swimming pools it often means that the inner aluminum is beginning to oxydise and rust. This means that the pool is more than likely starting to lose its support and will eventually burst. This can be extremely dangerous and fatal, so it's very important to take care of the situation as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, and more often than not in this situation, the life of the pool is over.

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