Leak Test: Plumbing or Structural?

So, now that you know average water loss due to evaporation is about 1/4 inch a day, what do you do when you are losing more? Take into consideration any windy days because that will take pool water away pretty fast. The first place you check is the filter area. Check the pad and see if any wet spots are present or any visible dripping. Also, check the end of the backwash hose. Sometimes a worn gate valve will leak in the closed position. If there are no equipment leaks, the source of the leaking is either plumbing or structural. 

A structural leak could be at the light, the main drain area, or usually where the interior finish meets a fitting and skimmer throat. The skimmer is the most popular area for leaks. Look for any gaps between tiles and the edges of the finish. If your pool leaks until the water levels off at the bottom of the skimmer throat... Bingo! In order to confirm a structural leak, a syringe filled with food coloring can be used. You must hold the tip of the syringe within a 1/2 inch of the suspected hole in order to really see the dye get sucked into it. Also, be sure and add more water to the pool so the wave action on the water surface doesn’t push the dye around erratically. Two part epoxy putty will fix these small structural holes. If you have one of those crappy skim-filters, you probably have a crack developing around a seam or the skim plate threads. Luckily, 9 out of 10 leaks in Florida leaks are structural. 

If you have a plumbing leak, it is either on the suction side or the pressure side of the pool pump. The suction side pipes are the ones that run from the pool to the pump, including the main drain, skimmer, and vacuum pipes. The pressure side are the pipes that run from the equipment to the pool. Plumbing leaks can get costly depending on the location of the leak and the crook, I mean leak detection company you hire. You can be charged over $200 just to determine leak location and not the actual fix. These guys have special tools that can hear escaping water and air under the concrete deck. Because structural leaks are more common, these expensive electronic leak detectors are going swimming first. Heck, I can’t remember the last time I made $200 for fifteen minutes of “work”.

You can easily determine whether your leak is structural or plumbing. No, I’m not talking about the bucket test either! First, fill the pool up to the normal operating level. Turn off the pump, wait till the water settles, and mark this level. A pencil mark on tile grout will work. Let the pool sit for 24 hours with the equipment off. You will have to remove the timer on/off settings. After 24 hours, take the pencil and mark the new level of the water. This mark will be below the original mark. Next, fill the pool back up to its original mark. Now, turn on the pump and let it run continuously for 24 hours. Again, mark the level of the water with the pencil. If these two marks are at the same level, it means you are losing the same amount of water whether the water is circulating or not. This is good! It means your structural leak can be easily and inexpensively  fixed.If there is a difference between the marks, it means it’s a plumbing leak. If the water loss is greater when the pump is running, the pressure side is leaking. If the water loss is less when the pump is running, it means the suction side is leaking. Shop around for an electronic leak detector when you have a plumbing leak. Prices vary. Also, get one with construction experience so they can expertly repair the leak and the concrete they have to break through.

So, why do I share this information with you? Glad you asked. I share this because I don’t want people paying the big bucks to the franchised electronic leak detectors when it’s unnecessary. If you know you have a structural leak, you can either do it yourself (how long can you hold your breath?), or hire someone like myself for under $100. Don’t spend double when these guys know that it’s probably in the skimmer area or the light niche.

Pro-Cite is located in southern Brevard County Florida which includes the communities of Melbourne, Palm Bay, Viera, Suntree, Satellite Beach, Indian Harbour Beach, Indialantic, Melbourne Beach, Eau Gallie, West Melbourne, Malabar, and most of the Space Coast.

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Pro-Cite, Inc.
P.O. Box 372457
Satellite Beach, FL 32937



Email: info@pro-cite.com