If you own a pool, chances are there’s a leak in it somewhere, and if there isn’t one now, there probably will be in the future. Leaks can develop in any pool at any time. And as pools age they become more prone to leaks. There are many different types of pool leaks, many causes, and just as many solutions. But none of those solutions matter if you don’t know the signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for, or to specifically look for it if you have your suspicions.
Without being able to detect a leak in your pool, it could go unaddressed for a long time. This could potentially cost you money, customers, and your sanity. So in today’s post we’ll talk about everything there is to know about leaks in your pool, and how to detect them.
Three kinds of leaks
There are essentially three different types of leaks that occur at a pool as well as their ease of detection and repair
- Mechanical equipment leak (easy to detect, easy to repair)
- Piping or plumbing leak (range from easy to hard to detect and easy to hard to repair)
- Pool structure leak (range from easy to hard to detect and typically hard to repair)
Each type of leak is different, some may be easier to detect, and others may be more difficult to fix than the others.
Mechanical equipment leaks are obvious and easy in both respects as all your equipment is accessible and typically easy to repair (even if it can be costly).
Piping and plumbing leaks ease of detection and repair is primarily contingent on where the leaking pipe is, if it’s somewhere visible and accessible, it’s relatively easy. However, most pools have near as much piping underground or otherwise inaccessible as is visible.
The same is true of structural leaks, if they are in a place that is visible it is of course easy to detect, but if it is part of the structure of the pool that isn’t visible it can much more difficult. Typically, repairs for structure leaks can be difficult as they often must take place with the entire pool emptied.
Clues that you might have a leak
Most modern pools are built with an auto-fill feature, which automatically adds water to your pool if the water levels get too low. While a nice feature for every day use, it can make detecting a leak a more difficult and involved process. However, if your pool doesn’t have an auto-fill, or if you can turn off your auto-fill, determining if you have a leak can be as simple as marking or noting where your water level is, waiting 24 hours and rechecking the water level. Typical water loss in a day shouldn’t exceed 1/4 inch.
There can be many things that clue you in to the fact that you may be leaking water from your pool. Though not all of them are as obvious or as easy to assess as others, all are good indicators.
What are some of the things that may indicate you have a leak?
- Constantly adding chemicals / increased chemical usage
- Consistently lower chemical levels / consistently lower pool temperatures
- Higher than typical water usage
- Visible leaks
- Structural weakness
- Water damage
- Low water level
It’s important to note that not all of these indicators are easy to observe, or track. So let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Increased Chemical Usage
Leaks aren’t the only reason you could experience an increase in chemical usage. It could also be a result of increased patronage or improperly balanced chemicals. These other factors are what make it important to take and keep ample documentation of your chemicals and their usage. DigiQuatics’ logs and checklists are the perfect tool to make sure your staff are keeping records for this kind of incident. Simply track how often staff are refilling your chemical feeds and you can spot any increases quickly.
If you’re using more chemicals than is typical and you aren’t seeing an increase in patronage or balancing issues, it is possible that your chemicals are having to be constantly replenished as your treated water is leaking away somewhere.
Consistently lower chemical levels/ lower pool temperatures
Even if you aren’t tracking your chemical usage rigorously enough to notice when you begin using more than is typical, you chemicals can still be a good indicator that you may have a leak. Your pool temperature can also be a good indicator.
If your leak is significant enough, you will likely see issues with keeping enough chlorine in your pool, as well as with keeping your pool at the desired temperature.
Lower chlorine, total alkalinity, calcium hardness and pH can all be good indicators that you have a leak. The same thing goes for lower temperatures and heating. If you are experiencing these things it’s possible that a leak is siphoning off your heated / treated water, forcing you to replace it with cold / untreated water.
Higher than typical water usage
If you suspect you may have a leak in your pool, accessing your monthly water usage (although not readily available to most pool operators) can be a good way to identify if you have one. If you are already suspicious due to any of the other clues on this list, it is an excellent way to confirm a leak, especially if you have an auto-fill feature at your pool.
This one is easy: If you are in your pump room and can visibly see water leaking, the fix can be as simple as replacing a piece of equipment or piping, but it’s all dependent on the size of the leak and its location.
Structural weaknesses / cracks
If you notice you have a crack in the shell of your pool it may or may not be a leak. If you have any of the other indicators for a pool leak it is important to take further measures to investigate and determine whether it is the source of your leak.
An easy way to check to see if a crack in your pool shell is actually leaking is to turn off your pumps, and use food coloring droppers to add a bit of color to the water near the crack. If the color disappears into the crack instead of dispersing you’re likely losing water there!
If you are experiencing water damage in areas that shouldn’t be getting exposed to water, it can sometimes indicate that you have a pool leak. Water damage can look like sections of decking sinking from water eroding away the ground beneath it, or the more obvious event of flooding. If you have water damage as described here, it’s time to call a professional to inspect the parts of your pool you can’t yourself to figure out just where you’re leaking from.
Low Water Level
If your pool water level seems to be lowering constantly, or more than it has in the past it may be an indicator that you have a leak. Again, the typical pool won’t lose more than ¼ inch of water in a typical day of use. If you’re losing more than that amount in your pool every day, it’s time to go leak hunting!
Ultimately, determining if you have a leak in your pool can come down to recognizing when things aren’t at their baseline. And of course, determining if you have a leak is only part of the battle. Once you’re convinced you have one, you have to find it, and repair it.
Have any other tips for finding leaks? Or other things you look for if you think you’ve got a leak? Let us know below in the comments!