How To Detect a Leaking Swimming Pool


During the hot summer days your swimming pool will lose water to evaporation. Swimming pools in direct sunlight can be expected to lose up to half an inch of water per day during drier times. If your swimming pool is losing more than you would expect, it is worthwhile to learn how to detect a leaking swimming pool.

The simplest way to check for a leak is to use the “bucket test.” Fill a large leak-proof bucket with water from your swimming pool and place on the top step of your ladder or steps such that the top of the bucket is above water level, but some of the bucket is submerged. This is to make sure that the temperature in the swimming pool and the bucket are the same. Adjust the water level in the swimming pool and the bucket so that they are at the same level and mark them. The next day, measure the water loss in both. The water loss in the bucket is due to evaporation. If more water is lost from the swimming pool than the bucket, there is a leak.

If you detected a leak in your swimming pool, the next step is to find where the leak is occurring. The first step would be to check your filter and see if there are any obviously leaking parts. If not, you must determine if you are losing more water with the filter running, or with the filter not running. You can do this by marking the water level in the swimming pool, letting the filter run for 12-24 hours, and then measuring the loss. Repeat this again, using the same time frame, only turn the filter off. If there is no difference in water loss based on the filter, then there is a leak in the structure. To read how to detect and repair a swimming pool leak in structure, skip past the next paragraph.

If your swimming pool loses more water while the filter is running, the leak is on the pressure side of the filter plumbing, past the impeller. Swimming pools that lose more water while the filter is off have leaks on the vacuum side of the filter plumbing, before the impeller. This should help you locate your leak. If your lines are underground, it will require some digging to repair. It is highly recommended that you contact a professional for this service, as they can use specialized tools to determine exactly where the leak is and minimize digging.

To find a leak in the structure of a concrete swimming pool you will need food coloring and some time. Squeeze a bit of food coloring near any cracks in the concrete shell of the swimming pool. If there is a leak, you will see the crack pull the food coloring in. If you have no luck after examining all the obvious cracks, squeeze out the food coloring near any items (ie: lights, main drain, etc.) that pierce the shell of the pool. Once you have located your leak, you can use a simple patching material to repair the damage.

In a vinyl pool, get in the pool and check around all areas that pierce the liner (main drain, return lights, etc.). If no leak is found, you are going to need to examine the pool very carefully. Although tears or pierced areas may be hard to see, you will be able to feel any punctures by rubbing your hands over the vinyl. This will be tedious, and a diver friend may come in handy! Once you have located the leak, it can easily be repaired with a swimming pool vinyl repair kit.

A swimming pool is a fun place to hang out with your family! Although maintenance can be intimidating, learning how to detect a leaking swimming pool, is a relatively simple process, with a big pay-off!

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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