How do I know if my pool is leaking?

Drain hole in the pool with blue tile.

Written by Javier Payan

Did you know that a backyard swimming pool actually uses less water than a lawn with the same square footage? That’s right, assuming that your pool does not have a leak.

Once a pool is filled, the evaporation rate can be as high as 1/4 inch per day and little to no evaporation in the colder winter months.

So if you suspect that your pool has a leak, you are probably right.

Here’s what you do. First, look for the obvious. Turn on your pool equipment and see if the pump, filter, heater, skimmer, or valves are leaking. If you have solar panels to heat your pool, turn on the solar and wait to see if you have water running off of your roof or rain gutters. Next, look at the pool for any cracks in the plaster or tile waterline. If you see a crack it may or may not be a leak. You can use some food coloring to see if the color gets absorbed into the crack. This can be a little tricky to do. This is usually best left to the professionals. Take a look around your yard for any damp soil or puddles.

If you still cannot find anything, I recommend doing a “bucket test”. To do a bucket test first you need a 5 gallon bucket. Fill the bucket about 2-3 inches from the rim; place it on the top step of the pool. At this point, you will need to wait about 15 minutes to allow for the water bounce to settle and be calm. Next take a sharpie or masking tape to mark the water level of the water inside of the bucket as well as the water level on the outside of the bucket. This may seem a little weird and you might ask yourself, “How is this bucket going to tell me if my pool is leaking?” Simple, very simple. First, understand that the rate of evaporation is exactly the same in the 5 gallon bucket as it is in a 20,000 gallon pool since water evaporates on the surface at the same rate. Okay, you’re almost done. Now turn off you pool system and leave it off for 24-48 hours. Come back and compare the water level to your marking on both the inside of the bucket as well as the pool water level on the outside of the bucket. If the levels both dropped (from evaporation) at the same rate, your pool is not leaking. Now if the pool water level on the outside of the bucket has dropped at a faster rate than the bucket level, unfortunately your pool has a leak. 🙁

So, you have already performed a visual check, a bucket test and confirmed your pool is leaking. Now it is time to call in the professionals. You need a Leak Detection Company. This can cost you around $400.00 to locate the leak. Keep in mind your leak can be anywhere even underground. A good leak detection company is totally worth every cent you pay them. Once the leak if found; you will get a sense of how much the repair will cost.

Remember, if you are concerned about the repair costs, just think about the cost of the water that you are already paying, not to mention the waste of a precious resource, water.

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