If you would like to try to find the leak yourself before engaging a professional, here are some tips.
First thing first
If you are not sure whether there is a leak or not:
You can loose quite a bit of water naturally through evaporation and swimming activities.
Swimming activities: If you have a lot of young adults and children playing around the pool, you can surprisingly ‘loose’ a lot of water, jumping in, making bombs, all the water falling on the floor when they get out etc.
Evaporation: Although it varies from region to region, pools in Mediteranean weather usually looses around 2cm every 2-3 days. If there is strong winds and extremely hot weather it could loose the same amount in 1 day. A very popular way to know if there is a leak is the famous bucket test.
If you know you have a leak, skip the bucket test.
If you are not sure whether there is a leak or not, you can do the famous ‘bucket’ test.
- Take a bucket. Fill with water about 3/4 full. Note its level with a marker or tape.
- Note the level of the pool.
- Run the pool only with the pump on for 24 hours
- Then turn the pool completely off for 24 hours.
- Monitor the level of the bucket and the pool. If they remain at a similar level you do not have a leak. Most likely evaporation that could be significant in the summer months.
- If the pool level is lower than the bucket level you have a leak somewhere
- If you lose more with the pump on than with the pump off you most likely have a leak in the return jet pipes.
- If you lose more with the pump off than with the pump on you most likely have a leak on the suction lines (skimmer, bottomdrain…)
- If you lose the same whether the pump is off or on, you most likely have a leak in the structure. Most of these leaks can be find with an eash low cost method called the dye colorant test. See below for more details.
Before you start with furher testing, first check the pool pump and filtration area to see if there are obvious leaks. Pool pumps can leak quite a bit when the pump housing starts to leak due to age. Also check your waste pipe. Sometimes the 6 way valve at the filtration leaks internally and it can allow water to pass into the waste.
Determine if the leak is in the structure or in the pipes
Leak detection can be split up into two main parts. The structure of the pool and the pipe work.
The easiest method for the home owner to determine if the leak is in the structure or in the pipes is to isolate all the pipe work. For this you need winterizing plugs. You can find this quite cheaply at your local pool shop or online.
Switch off your filtration system, plug all openings with winterizing plugs, close all the valves in the pool room and see if you still loose water. The only main problem you will have is to plug the bottom drain. If it is in the summer you can dive to this one.
Wait at least 24hrs. If you still loose water it is definitely in the structure for example in the waterproofing of the wall fittings or cracks in the shell. You can also wait and see if the water stabilize somewhere. If it stabilize just below the skimmer, your leak is most likely in the skimmer housing. If stabilize at the pool lights it might be the lights……etc.
Cracks in the pool is also a very common leak.
To verify or search any of these leaks mentioned here, you can test it with this very powerful yet low cost method. Dye colorant.
Dye colorant test
70% of all leaks are in the structure at cracks or waterproofing of the fittings such as lights, jet fittings, skimmer mouths and so on. So it is worth to check these first. It is important that the pool is full.
It is more efficient to use a syringe. Most leaks that are found with colorant are only visible if you are very close (less than 10mm away from the testing site) with a little dye. If you are too far away or there is too much dye, it is higly likely that you will miss the leak.
Here are videos of typical leak found with the colorant
Order your dye colorant package (25€)
1. 20 ml Syringe with 10cm long straw
2. Blue or Fluo green Liquid dye (enough for 8 refills).
3. 50mm x 100mm Telescopic Inspection mirror (to see the hard to get places)
Contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leaks in the pipe work
If you suspect a problem in the pipes you are much more limited with what you can do. This is where the professional leak detection companies are called.
If you did not loose any water when you plugged all the pipes, you have a leak in the pipes. If you have the time you can take out the plugs out of the return jet fittings. Wait at 24 hrs. Do you loose water now? If yes, your leak is in that pipe work. If not take out the plugs at the skimmers, wait at least 24 hrs and so on.
Now there is a test you can do to identify the guilty pipe much quicker. It is called a pressure test and you will need special equipment to do this testing. At this point you will have to call the pool professional that is equipped to find the leak in the pipes using tracer gas, endoscopique camera, acoustic methods etc.