Pool leak - where is the water going?

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Henry_R
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My Pool: HOA Community Swimming pool built approx. 1971.
In-Ground, Plaster 34x18 3.5-6' deep, Sta-rite P2R A5D-120L pump, A.O. Smith centurion 1HP (uprated 1.25HP) motor,Hayward S244S filter(new 2011), Rainbow Lifegard Chlorine/Bomine feeder; new replastered June 2010
Location: Houston, Texas USA

Pool leak - where is the water going?

Postby Henry_R » Fri 13 Nov, 2009 04:11

Hi all,

I'm in a condominium in Houston, Texas and we have an an association pool with a leak. Actually, we were told by a pool company in 2008 there is no leak and my bucket-pool comparison test seemed to confirm that. Yet, I still have to add water several times a week to keep the level to the skimmer. On Wednesday I added water for an hour and Thursday another 90 minutes. It leaks with or without the pump on, btw.

Now, the $1,000,000 question is where does all the water go? If it's leaking where is it going to? Is it creating some kind of hole or cavern? My neighbor who is President of the HOA board seems to think so since she's done insurance work where pools have caused foundation problems to homes and such. If we suspect a problem like this what do we do?

Our HOA is boarderd on one side by a flood control reservoir. It's like a dam, but there is a large ditch that goes down well below the grade of the pool. Would the water likely go there ie seek the lowest point?

There is a small hole forming along the outside of the pool fence along the edge of the pool deck which is cobblestone. It seems to go down and under the deck, but we cannot see more. Also, in a front flowerbed of an adjacent unit there is a similar hole just discovered yesterday. The cobble doesn't have any larger cracks except for where someone obviously removed and replaced some to fix the skimmer line long ago.
The rest are hairline cracks mostly. It it possible this hole is related to the pool leak?

Thank you in advance,

Henry


Money talks!? All it ever says to me is "goodbye!".
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mas985
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Pool leak - where is the water going?

Postby mas985 » Fri 13 Nov, 2009 11:08

Houston averages close to 1.5" of water loss per week due to evaporation. Unless it is significantly higher than that, I would say you are dealing with evaporation. Try the bucket test again just to make sure but I would rely upon the test results.
Mark
Hydraulics 101 ; Pump and Pool Spreadsheets ; Pump Ed 101
18'x36' 20k gallon plaster/gunite pool, 1/2 HP 2sp pump, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge Filter, Solar Panels, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater
Henry_R
Swimming Pool Pro
Swimming Pool Pro
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 21:41
My Pool: HOA Community Swimming pool built approx. 1971.
In-Ground, Plaster 34x18 3.5-6' deep, Sta-rite P2R A5D-120L pump, A.O. Smith centurion 1HP (uprated 1.25HP) motor,Hayward S244S filter(new 2011), Rainbow Lifegard Chlorine/Bomine feeder; new replastered June 2010
Location: Houston, Texas USA

Pool leak - where is the water going?

Postby Henry_R » Fri 13 Nov, 2009 11:15

mas985 wrote:Houston averages close to 1.5" of water loss per week due to evaporation. Unless it is significantly higher than that, I would say you are dealing with evaporation. Try the bucket test again just to make sure but I would rely upon the test results.
Perhaps that's true in mid summer, but it's barely been getting to 80 the last few weeks. The high for today is only going to reach 79 and it's been cool and humid at night lows in the mid 50s making for some fog or dew in the mornings. I'll try the bucket test again though.
Money talks!? All it ever says to me is "goodbye!".
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mas985
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Pool leak - where is the water going?

Postby mas985 » Fri 13 Nov, 2009 16:46

Here is my source. Houston averages between 70-80 inches over the entire year. This a yearly average of about 1.5" per week. It has been my experience that in the summer, you can expect about twice the yearly average and winter about 1/2. This time of year should be pretty close to the yearly average which is why I said close to 1.5" per week.
Mark
Hydraulics 101 ; Pump and Pool Spreadsheets ; Pump Ed 101
18'x36' 20k gallon plaster/gunite pool, 1/2 HP 2sp pump, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge Filter, Solar Panels, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater
Henry_R
Swimming Pool Pro
Swimming Pool Pro
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 21:41
My Pool: HOA Community Swimming pool built approx. 1971.
In-Ground, Plaster 34x18 3.5-6' deep, Sta-rite P2R A5D-120L pump, A.O. Smith centurion 1HP (uprated 1.25HP) motor,Hayward S244S filter(new 2011), Rainbow Lifegard Chlorine/Bomine feeder; new replastered June 2010
Location: Houston, Texas USA

Pool leak - where is the water going?

Postby Henry_R » Fri 13 Nov, 2009 21:33

Interesting website. Thanks.

We must have a slow leak or some type since the water has dropped way more than 1" in a day much less 7 days. I've filed the water to the brim and found it at the bottom of the skimmer in two days time. That has to be about 2-4 inches. But it does this sometimes then not others. Yesterday I filled the pool to the top and it hasn't lost any water at all that I can see by tonight just over 24 hours later. And yes the pump is on some of the time too.

One more reason to do the bucket test, I guess. I'll work on this over the weekend.

My neighbor has a friend who is a geologist and is going to have a look at the holes to see if we need to be concerned. The proximity to the pool is what has us worried that a leak is sufficient to have created some kind of cavern. There is talk by some of the homeowners who have lived here for over 30 years that there was a leak 25 years ago that was never fixed. If there's a break in the plaster is that a likely place for the water to be escaping? Will replastering likely stop a leak? We have to do that sometime this off-season as well as fixing the drain cover to comply with the law, even though the drain is plugged up at the skimmer and doesn't work.
Money talks!? All it ever says to me is "goodbye!".
Guest

Pool leak - where is the water going?

Postby Guest » Sat 14 Nov, 2009 09:39

I added water for an hour and Thursday another 90 minutes

What's the pool surface area and volume?
How much water is an hour of adding?

Will replastering likely stop a leak?

No. The crack must be opened and widened, then filled with a mortar or compound specifically made for this type of repair.
Henry_R
Swimming Pool Pro
Swimming Pool Pro
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 21:41
My Pool: HOA Community Swimming pool built approx. 1971.
In-Ground, Plaster 34x18 3.5-6' deep, Sta-rite P2R A5D-120L pump, A.O. Smith centurion 1HP (uprated 1.25HP) motor,Hayward S244S filter(new 2011), Rainbow Lifegard Chlorine/Bomine feeder; new replastered June 2010
Location: Houston, Texas USA

Pool leak - where is the water going?

Postby Henry_R » Sat 14 Nov, 2009 11:11

The pool is plaster, about 18x34 6ft at the deep end, 3ft at the shallow end. So the closest guess for volume is 21000-22000 gallons.

The faucet fills a 5 gallon bucket in about 1 minute so it's probably 300 per hour and 450 in 90 minutes.

So we must know for sure if there's a leak before we have the pool replastered or it'll leak still through the new plaster? Wonderful... :cry:
Money talks!? All it ever says to me is "goodbye!".
ChuckGeo
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Location: Atlanta, GA.

Pool leak - where is the water going?

Postby ChuckGeo » Mon 16 Nov, 2009 07:58

I definitely think you have a leak, but you need to generate more information. Specifically, how much is the pool loosing, in inches, in 24 hours with the pump on continuosly and how much does the water level go down in 24 hours with the pump off continuosly. The same amount of loss whether the pump is on or off eliminates the plumbing and points toward a leak in the structure, around a fitting, skimmer box or throat, hydrostat or main drain sump, light niche or light conduit. If the leak is more with the pump on, suspect the return line. I loss is less on than off, suspect a suction line - skimmer or main drain line.
I would not count on replastering the pool solving the leak problem - you should definitely determine where the leak is prior to replastering. There is no worse feeling than spending a bunch of money to plaster the pool, refilling it and it still leaks!
You might want to call in a professional leak detection company to help you solve the problem.

Good luck.
Chuck
Owner, Superior Pool Services
25 years leak detection experience
Henry_R
Swimming Pool Pro
Swimming Pool Pro
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 21:41
My Pool: HOA Community Swimming pool built approx. 1971.
In-Ground, Plaster 34x18 3.5-6' deep, Sta-rite P2R A5D-120L pump, A.O. Smith centurion 1HP (uprated 1.25HP) motor,Hayward S244S filter(new 2011), Rainbow Lifegard Chlorine/Bomine feeder; new replastered June 2010
Location: Houston, Texas USA

Pool leak - where is the water going?

Postby Henry_R » Mon 16 Nov, 2009 11:49

Thank you very much. I haven't measured the actual loss in inches. The way I've been measuring it is water level relative to the skimmer. I've been keeping it about 1/4 way up the skimmer opening and it drop to the bottom in just over a day if I don't add water. I'm not sure if this helps since perhaps the skimmers are not all the same size. Sorry. I'll go measure the skimmer and report back later so a better water loss number can be ascertained.

I think we're going to have to call in a professional eventually. This is a community pool as I think I mentioned so us DIY'ing this test is not going to cut it. We have to know before we replaster if there is a leak and how bad.

It's a long story why we're maintaining it ourselves, but the short of it is that the pool company was leaving the gate open and cut a hole to access the lock to open it without key; we fired them when they wouldn't fix it and were unable to find another company due to the summer rush. I've been keeping it maintained and tested over the summer and now as a community service since it was a swamp for about 2 months after the service was fired and nobody would come out and service us. We are a very cash-poor community; our previous HOA board left our treasury drained so badly we had $1000 in the reserve fund at the beginning of the year and we take in $110000, but we're struggling to do even the most meger of repairs. We are finally getting back on our feet and hope to do any leak detection this off-season and replaster the pool as well without having to assess the homeowners. The pool absolutly needs replastering though. This pool has been badly neglected and it hasn't been resurfaced in the 16 years I've lived here in Houston and quite possibly not for over 30-years. The plaster is coming off in chunks in some places and has left a powdery silt on the bottom of the pool. Whenever I brush the sides it make the whole pool cloudy for about 1 week afterwards until the silt settles.

Do you have anyone you can recommend in Houston for leak detection? If not, how do we screen whomever we attempt to hire? What credentials or type of training should we ask for? What do leak tests usually cost? Are there different types of tests?

The previous pool service claimed to have done a leak check and determined there was no leak. It doesn't fit the data we are observing though.

Thank you for any information you can help with.
Money talks!? All it ever says to me is "goodbye!".
ChuckGeo
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Posts: 97
Joined: Fri 16 Jan, 2009 16:31
Location: Atlanta, GA.

Pool leak - where is the water going?

Postby ChuckGeo » Mon 16 Nov, 2009 15:33

I don't know any leak detectors in the Houston area, but I bet there's an American Leak Detection franchise there. They are a good bet, a little pricey but they guarantee their work. Otherwise it's the yellow pages, and check references.
Good luck.
Chuck

Owner, Superior Pool Services

25 years leak detection experience

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