Is My Pool Leaking? How to Find Out
There are two golden rules when it comes to dealing with pool leaks:
1) Don’t delay
2) Don’t try to do it yourself.
However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t one or two things you can’t do on your end. After all, it would help to know just what kind of leak you have and where it’s located. Whether it’s a surface leak, faulty plumbing, or just plain evaporation, below are some simple techniques for identifying the source of your water level decrease. A water level drop could be due to simple splashing or evaporation. Therefore, your first step is to go and look for clues.
Take a Walk
If you have an above-ground pool, take a walk around it. A liner leak may manifest itself by leaving a wet area around the ground at the base. Make sure there’s been no swimming activity for an hour or so before checking pool leaks. You want to rule out the possibility of overzealous splashing as a cause. If you see nothing, it’s time to check for evaporation.
Shut Off the Pump
Shut off the pump so that there’s no water movement in or out of the pool. Next, mark the water level at the skimmer with a piece of tape. Fill a small glass jar with pool water and mark its level with tape as well. Set the jar beside the pool and wait. After 24 hours, you’ll notice a decrease of water in the jar and a comparative decrease in the pool, both due to evaporation. By the way, check your forecast. You’ll want to make sure you conduct this test on a non-rainy day! If there’s no drop in water level, the problem could be in your plumbing (more on that later). If there is a significant pool level drop, this is another possible indicator of a surface leak.
Take a Swim
Now comes the fun part: time to don the mask and snorkel and take a swim. First, you’ll need a tube of food coloring. Dive in with your mask and food coloring and head over to the steps or ladder. This is a common area for leaks, as it tends to see a lot of action and wear and tear. Squirt a bit of food coloring around where the stairs or ladder meets the surface of the pool. A leak will reveal itself by sucking the dye out through it. Do the same around the skimmer.
If you’ve found nothing in those places, you’re still not out of the woods — or the water for that matter. Once again, remember the golden rules. Checking your pool’s plumbing and filtration system for leaks could be time-consuming if you aren’t a hundred percent sure of what you’re doing. Delaying repairs on a small leak may not seem like a big deal, but a small problem can escalate into a huge one before you know it. Water alone is amazing at accomplishing just that. Add to that a bunch of swimmers having a great time, and you run the risk of accelerating the process even more so.
An entire industry is built around that fact that prideful homeowners are often tempted to do their own repairs. What they don”t tell you is that leak repair kits are only temporary solutions. That goes double for jury-rigged repairs made from material scrounged up from around the house. Only a pool professional knows the real ins and outs of leak repair. A small investment in a professional repair has lasting returns. A pool pro knows what to do and how to do it, and can have you back to doing those cannonballs in no time.