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Thread: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PVC?

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    MitchRyan912's Avatar
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    Question Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PVC?

    Hi all,

    So I had a heck of a season last year, going through 3 motors, and a ton of headaches. I think I just narrowed down the sources of the problems: bad electrical (house panel wasn't tripping breaker like it should have) and a suction side leak in the skimmer line. Based on a thread I posted from last year (HERE), I should have gone ahead with a pressure test, but a few different pool techs who came out all pointed to the electrical as being the culprit. I'm not so sure anymore, but the non-tripping breakers didn't help save the motors from going up in smoke...

    So this is where I'm at:
    FullSizeRender.jpg
    I filled up all three (capped) lines to the pool, and the shallow end return and deep end vac line pipes are holding steady with the water in them. The line for the skimmer... I've had to fill back up a few times, and it took significantly more water than the other pipes to fill up (and there should have been a good bit of RV anti-freeze in this one.) I filled it up repeatedly such that it started to hold its water fairly well, but checked it an hour later and it had dropped down a good bit again. I was told this was a reliable test, with these pipes capped at the other end, that the water level should hold unless there is a leak.

    The question is, should I dig up and repair the leak (I'm told it's leaked here several times before) or ditch this line (1.5" flex PVC) and run new 2" pipe to the equipment? If I do this, should I also do the deep end vac line as well? Could I leave the 1.5" flex return line?
    2016 total pool rebuild thread: here. Pool: 26,000 gal IG vinyl liner (20'x40') in Madison, WI. Gear: ​Superflo VS, Triton TR-60 filter, 2" hi-flow MPV, & Raypak 266A heater. Testing: Taylor K-2006C. Manual chems: 12.5% NaClO liquid, granular CYA, baking soda, 31.25% muriatic acid.

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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    If the lines are sealed shut in the pool, then it would appear the the skimmer line is indeed leaking and need repair/replacement.

    Are you sure that is flex PVC and not poly pipe? If I was going through the effort to dig it all up, I think I would be inclined to replace it all with hard PVC.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    I'll post some pictures in a bit, but I know it's 30 years old and has a wall thinner than the similar sized hard PVC. It has some ability to bend, so I assume it's some form of flex PVC pipe, albeit a very old version of it (installed in the early 80's).
    2016 total pool rebuild thread: here. Pool: 26,000 gal IG vinyl liner (20'x40') in Madison, WI. Gear: ​Superflo VS, Triton TR-60 filter, 2" hi-flow MPV, & Raypak 266A heater. Testing: Taylor K-2006C. Manual chems: 12.5% NaClO liquid, granular CYA, baking soda, 31.25% muriatic acid.

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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    I am pretty sure it is a poly pipe, like a larger version of irrigation pipe. I think it used to be used due to the flexibility, but it is not as resistant to cracking and leaks as the now common schedule 40 PVC. The poly also requires the use of those barbed transitions with hose clamps which are prone to leak as well.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    I am pretty sure it is a poly pipe, like a larger version of irrigation pipe. I think it used to be used due to the flexibility, but it is not as resistant to cracking and leaks as the now common schedule 40 PVC. The poly also requires the use of those barbed transitions with hose clamps which are prone to leak as well.
    Yes, it's black poly--clear from the pictures. We replaced our 1946 galvanized with black poly in the early 1960s and ran it with no problems on the pipe until we tore up the pool in 2003. The barbed fittings and metal clamps were another story. We were able to confirm one leak in the 90s at the skimmer and were able to dig down around the skimmer, replace the barb fitting and clamps, and keep the pipe and skimmer for several more years. Your skimmer might not be as easy to access as ours was (we had a steel pool and no sidewalk), but it might be something to try before you tear the whole thing up, especially if there are no other 90 turns that might also be the culprit.

    The pipe itself was good stuff. It would only crack in conditions that would have cracked PVC as well, i.e. full of liquid and then frozen. It lasted longer than the galvanized it replaced--over 40 years.
    Current: 28,000G 18'x36' I/G AnthonySylvan Plaster; Waterway 60 sq.ft. DE Filter; 1.0hp x 1.65 SF Two-Speed (B2982) WhisperFlo; 2004-Present
    Previous: 40,000G 20'x40' I/G Koven unlined WWII salvage 5/8" marine steel; Lomart Stainless Sand Filter; 3/4hp Hayward SuperPump; 1946-2003 (managed by me from about 1964)
    Ancient Taylor K-2000, upgraded with Taylor CH, TA, and FAS-DPD, and TFT CYA tests.

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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    I am pretty sure it is a poly pipe, like a larger version of irrigation pipe. I think it used to be used due to the flexibility, but it is not as resistant to cracking and leaks as the now common schedule 40 PVC. The poly also requires the use of those barbed transitions with hose clamps which are prone to leak as well.
    This sounds exactly like what I have. If those barbed transitions are used all around, then I bet it's leaking a tiny bit in ALL of my pipes, not just in the skimmer line (FYI, this line has been repaired 4 times, most recently repaired 4 years ago).

    I looked at the water level in all three pipes, and they've ALL fallen from the fully topped off level (but the skimmer line has fallen by far the most). Also, there were a row of arbor vitae trees planted above where these pipes run (you can see the leaves in the picture in the first post... the bane of my pool's existence, even though the trees provide a fantastic privacy fence). I don't know if the intricate root system of all these trees would cause a problem or not?
    2016 total pool rebuild thread: here. Pool: 26,000 gal IG vinyl liner (20'x40') in Madison, WI. Gear: ​Superflo VS, Triton TR-60 filter, 2" hi-flow MPV, & Raypak 266A heater. Testing: Taylor K-2006C. Manual chems: 12.5% NaClO liquid, granular CYA, baking soda, 31.25% muriatic acid.

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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    If I was going through the effort to dig it all up, I think I would be inclined to replace it all with hard PVC.
    Is this advisable to run hard PVC underground in the "frozen tundra" of a climate like Wisconsin? Until recently, I had assumed that standard white schedule 40 pipe would have been the way to go, but I found some threads on here that indicated that a true flex PVC pipe will work better in climates where the ground will freeze (it'll give under pressure a bit, versus cracking a hard pipe). Might there be any truth to that?
    2016 total pool rebuild thread: here. Pool: 26,000 gal IG vinyl liner (20'x40') in Madison, WI. Gear: ​Superflo VS, Triton TR-60 filter, 2" hi-flow MPV, & Raypak 266A heater. Testing: Taylor K-2006C. Manual chems: 12.5% NaClO liquid, granular CYA, baking soda, 31.25% muriatic acid.

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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    You raise a valid point. There are pluses and minuses for the true flex PVC. The flex is a lot more expensive and is susceptible to termites (may not be a problem up there).

    Either way you should bury it pretty deep I would think.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    You raise a valid point. There are pluses and minuses for the true flex PVC. The flex is a lot more expensive and is susceptible to termites (may not be a problem up there).

    Either way you should bury it pretty deep I would think.
    I don't know how prevalent termites are in the upper Midwest, but I do know we are a bit boxed in where the plumbing is located. We only have about 30" of space between the pool wall and where the arbor vitae trees are located, so we can't dig down much further than 2-3' below the surface.

    I found something interesting last night, the APSP-15 standard that indicated that I ought to have 2.5" pipe on the suction side, and 2" pipe for the single return. I don't know if I'm going to dig up the return yet, but I suppose if I'm digging anywhere in is area, I ought to go ahead and do so...
    2016 total pool rebuild thread: here. Pool: 26,000 gal IG vinyl liner (20'x40') in Madison, WI. Gear: ​Superflo VS, Triton TR-60 filter, 2" hi-flow MPV, & Raypak 266A heater. Testing: Taylor K-2006C. Manual chems: 12.5% NaClO liquid, granular CYA, baking soda, 31.25% muriatic acid.

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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    You don't need pipes that big, but it would not hurt anything.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    So 1.5" or 2" single return and 2" for each suction line should be sufficient? I thought going to 2.5" would be good for when (if?) we ever dig up the concrete around the rest of the pool. I'd love to add a second skimmer on the opposite side, and probably a second return line, in the future.
    2016 total pool rebuild thread: here. Pool: 26,000 gal IG vinyl liner (20'x40') in Madison, WI. Gear: ​Superflo VS, Triton TR-60 filter, 2" hi-flow MPV, & Raypak 266A heater. Testing: Taylor K-2006C. Manual chems: 12.5% NaClO liquid, granular CYA, baking soda, 31.25% muriatic acid.

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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    I have a single 1.5 suction line from the skimmer/ floor and a single 1.5 return to 4 jets.

    I think 2.5 is generally bigger than you need unless you have very high flow rate needs, spa, water feature, etc.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
    If you found TFP helpful and we saved you money ... Become a TFP Supporter!

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    Re: Pressure testing lines: leak in the 1.5" skimmer line. Repair or replace w/ 2" PV

    Hmm... OK. 2" sounds like it should be fine all around then. Thanks for the help!
    2016 total pool rebuild thread: here. Pool: 26,000 gal IG vinyl liner (20'x40') in Madison, WI. Gear: ​Superflo VS, Triton TR-60 filter, 2" hi-flow MPV, & Raypak 266A heater. Testing: Taylor K-2006C. Manual chems: 12.5% NaClO liquid, granular CYA, baking soda, 31.25% muriatic acid.

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