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Thread: Pool losing water

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    Pool losing water

    We bought a house a few weeks back with a 27000 gallon inground pool and spillover spa. Pump/filter are located a little below pool water level, determined from my eyeball estimation (and the fact that I removed the lid to the pump basket and water poured out until I got it back on.

    Here is what I've observed so far with pump running 24/7 on pool/spa combination return....

    Water and salt levels have been dropping in the pool since we moved in -- I was adding 1/2"-1" of water per day. Air was seen in pump basket, was able to clear it by isolating suction line to skimmers only, eliminating main drain. This did not stop water loss, so I put plugs in the 2 main drain lines -- still did not stop water loss.

    Turned off return to spa, so that pump runs 100% pool for the last 2 days. Spa level dropped quickly, now below bottom return jets and just above spa drain (it has probably not stopped dropping yet). The spa water level is also below pool water level, but not sure if it is below valve level -- that would just be a guess. In this mode with spa return off, the pool level looks to have stabilized other than possibly evaporation.

    I would like to unplug the main drains at some point to make sure there aren't any water leaks there, but want to figure out where the water is going first. Here is a picture of the pump/filter, labeled with my guess of what the valves and pipes are =)

    20150813_060911.jpg

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    Re: Pool losing water

    Sounds like you have a leak in the spa. Mine leaked, and it was around where the drain meets the gem coat finish. Sounds like your leak is with the drain or drain line too since it went below the jets.
    25' x 13' Roman, 12000 gal IGP, Plaster, with 500 gal Spa
    SWG, 1 HP Max Flo Pump, C-900 cartridge filter
    Solar heat

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    Re: Pool losing water

    Certainly seems like it would be in the spa drain. Forgot to mention it is a pre-fab spa with I think 4 drains on the sides of the bottom (not at the house right now to look). Still not sure if spa level has reached level of valves and pump yet.

    Also, the builder used paver stones around the pool/spa rather than concrete, and there is a good bit of settling around the spa. Apparently the previous owners already had paver stones repaired and leveled once before, but it has happened again.

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    Agent99's Avatar
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    Re: Pool losing water

    Your labels look pretty accurate to me so I think you have those right.

    If you turned off spa return and not spa suction, I would think the spa level absolutely should drop assuming that the pool level does not breech the spill-over. Perhaps at some point, the spa water will enter the pool and raise its level. If that level goes above the spill-over, then your spa level should remain uniform (although the suction flow might be greater than the spill-over flow.) Otherwise, you will empty your spa and dump all its water into the pool. I do this occasionally to clean the spa. You could be in danger of losing prime in your pump if the spa empties and you are not there to turn the suction valve off.

    But assuming you also turned the spa suction off, then of course you've isolated the pool from the spa and its level shouldn't change but there also is no pressure in the line so any leak might not be happening unless pressurized.

    Bottom line, finding leaks is a pain because you'll have to cut into your plumbing to isolate lines and seal any openings (like drains and return ports) and then a pressure test could reveal if the line is leaking.
    ----Chris----
    25k IG/Spa Figure 8, 18x36, Pebble Sheen Blue Granite, Sta-Rite S8M150 Cartridge Filter, Pentair 460805 400k BTU Heater & 011018 IntelliFlo VarSpd
    Liquidator, Fafco Solar Heat, Polaris PB460 Booster Pump w/280 cleaner, Katchaleaf Cover, TF100 Test Kit, FAKE MAIN DRAIN

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    Re: Pool losing water

    Yes, the spa suction is currently off. I should have mentioned that the picture is from a couple of weeks ago and not the current configuration =)

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    Re: Pool losing water

    This exactly happened to friends of ours recently with a pre-formed spa and pavers. The spa settled and the drain pipe came loose or cracked. Luckily, since it was all pavers around, they did not have to tear up a slab, but it was still a job to redo the spa, get it leveled, etc.
    25' x 13' Roman, 12000 gal IGP, Plaster, with 500 gal Spa
    SWG, 1 HP Max Flo Pump, C-900 cartridge filter
    Solar heat

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    Re: Pool losing water

    My fear is exactly that -- the pavers have allowed the spa to settle and disrupt the pipes. I'm hoping there's something else I can check before tearing up pavers.

    It appears the spa is stable and the pavers are settling away from it, but that may be wishful thinking.

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    Re: Pool losing water

    The pavers are only about 2" thick sitting on top of probably 4-6" of crushed gravel and sand. I kind of doubt they are the culprit to the spa settling since the spa is way way deeper than the pavers. As lborne pointed out, however, moving pavers is a lot easier and cheaper than jack-hammering concrete to reach pipes should you need to.
    ----Chris----
    25k IG/Spa Figure 8, 18x36, Pebble Sheen Blue Granite, Sta-Rite S8M150 Cartridge Filter, Pentair 460805 400k BTU Heater & 011018 IntelliFlo VarSpd
    Liquidator, Fafco Solar Heat, Polaris PB460 Booster Pump w/280 cleaner, Katchaleaf Cover, TF100 Test Kit, FAKE MAIN DRAIN

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    Re: Pool losing water

    That's a very good point, I guess the spa sits below the pavers anyway. Like I mentioned, the spa seems like it's still in the position it should be (though the whole setup is 6-7 years old and I'm seeing it for the first time). I just hope that whatever it's sitting on -- dirt, gravel, concrete, etc.? -- is still holding it up and hasn't let the plumbing get compromised.

    Any ideas what I could check next before getting into paver removal?

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    Re: Pool losing water

    Update: wife just called from the house and said the spa has about 6 inches of water left, which I assume means the drains aren't fully covered anymore. She said the pump basket is pulling air and she could hear it trying to pull from the spa, so I guess the spa suction valve isn't fully closed or has failed?

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    Re: Pool losing water

    I assume you have a gunite/shotcrete/concrete pool? If you look at my signature, you see that I list all my equipment. It helps us to more quickly help you so if you could add some info there, it would help. And since you have a spillover, your spa is attached to your pool I'm guessing. So yeah, it should have plenty of concrete around it and not likely move UNLESS you have a high water table in your geographical area.

    If your drain is at the bottom of the spa, it should be fine if it has water over it so I'm not sure where or why the air leak at the pump and why it sounds like it is losing prime. So it doesn't sound like you shut the spa suction off OR your diagram as you labeled it is incorrect in some way (although it looks okay from what I can see).

    You should have her turn the pump off until you can get home and see what is going on. I can't tell much from here, eh?

    Take a lot more pictures of everything so we can get a better picture of your system.
    ----Chris----
    25k IG/Spa Figure 8, 18x36, Pebble Sheen Blue Granite, Sta-Rite S8M150 Cartridge Filter, Pentair 460805 400k BTU Heater & 011018 IntelliFlo VarSpd
    Liquidator, Fafco Solar Heat, Polaris PB460 Booster Pump w/280 cleaner, Katchaleaf Cover, TF100 Test Kit, FAKE MAIN DRAIN

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    Re: Pool losing water

    Sorry, I don't have all of the pool info to add with me, but I'll do so when I get a chance.

    It's actually a vinyl liner inground pool, not sure what's behind the liner. She said she could hear the pump trying to pull from the spa when she passed it (the spa), so I told her to turn the pump off. The drains in the spa aren't on the bottom, but rather on the sides near the bottom, so I believe they are partially exposed to air.

    The spa suction is turned to Off on the Jandy valve, so it looks like I may have an issue there. Unfortunately, I don't think this will help me with the issue I had of losing water before. May have to keep the main drains plugged until the next liner replacement =/

    And since my equipment is below water level, I'll have to plug the skimmers to mess with the spa suction, because there isn't a valve to shut those off.

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    Re: Pool losing water

    Since you previously isolated the spa from the pool via the valves, you either have a crack in the spa or the drain line has cracked or come loose. It could be cracked somewhere along the route from the spa to the pump and if you have some pavers that are sinking in an area - that might be a place to look. But chances are the spa settled - just a bit - enough to damage the drain pipe. My friend's setup was only 4 years old. If the pavers around the spa have sunk, then you can bet the spa has too.
    25' x 13' Roman, 12000 gal IGP, Plaster, with 500 gal Spa
    SWG, 1 HP Max Flo Pump, C-900 cartridge filter
    Solar heat

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    Re: Pool losing water

    I replaced the diverter in the spa suction last night and filled the spa/pool. I turned the filter to pool only and fired up the polaris for a couple of hours to clean the pool. This morning, the spa was still completely full, so I guess the diverter is working correctly now. The pool looked to be down maybe a quarter of an inch, but I'm not completely sure this wasn't evaporation.

    This afternoon, I'll set the filter to spa only and see if any water loss is coming from from the spa return line.

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    Re: Pool losing water

    Latest... Ran the system in spa only -- the level of the spa dropped somewhat quickly, maybe half an inch or more in 10 minutes. This led me to believe that there may be a leak in the spa return line. I turned the system back to pool only (manually adjusted valve on return line) and left it there the rest of the weekend. Thought everything looked OK, and I figured I would just run the spa a little daily to keep it filtered rather than leaving the return partially open to the spa all the time.

    Yesterday, it looked like the spa had a little more water in it than it did when I first changed to pool only. Thinking maybe the diverter in the return valve may need to be replaced too, I turned the system off overnight to see what would happen. Spa looked to be at same level this morning, pool down a little. I've got the bucket in the pool again today to see if it really is losing water somewhere.

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    Re: Pool losing water

    Thought I should log in and give an update in case anyone else has similar issues.

    I ended up replacing all of the diverters in the Jandy valves, as well as the check valve going to the spa. Although I know some of these were bad, they obviously weren't the source of any leaks -- I just wanted to be able to isolate everything and know I was getting a good seal when doing so.

    With new valves, I was able to run the spa only with no water loss for 24 hours. During that time, the pool water level still dropped. Next I plugged the skimmers (the main drain has been plugged as an original suspect), and left the filter off. Water still dropped....

    I made some homemade dye from gel food coloring used for baking, and put it in a syringe used to give young kids liquid medicine. From outside the pool, I squirted around the 2 lights and the returns. The dye looked like it was being pulled in the returns, so I plugged those as well. Water level still dropped...

    I dye tested around all of my plugs, and then the lights again. The plugs were good, but I noticed by one of the lights that the dye was pulled in when I held it in the right place. Apparently, since the area around the light is so big, you have to be in just the right spot sometimes. I got in and removed the light to test behind it. Sure enough, the conduit behind the the light pulled the dye in pretty visibly.

    So with the leak located (or at least one leak), I put JB Weld Waterweld around the wires and conduit. After 24 hours, no water loss, or it was so minimal I chalked it up to evaporation. Went in the following day to put the light back in the housing, and it wouldn't go in because of how I puttied the hole =/

    So I'm going to have to fix my fix, but at least I know where the leak is located and it's stopped until I get ready to repair it.

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    Agent99's Avatar
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    Re: Pool losing water

    Nice job with the colored dye!
    ----Chris----
    25k IG/Spa Figure 8, 18x36, Pebble Sheen Blue Granite, Sta-Rite S8M150 Cartridge Filter, Pentair 460805 400k BTU Heater & 011018 IntelliFlo VarSpd
    Liquidator, Fafco Solar Heat, Polaris PB460 Booster Pump w/280 cleaner, Katchaleaf Cover, TF100 Test Kit, FAKE MAIN DRAIN

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