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Thread: I found my leak, now what?

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    I found my leak, now what?

    Hi everyone!

    I have an inground vinyl pool with 2 return inlets on one return line. I've had a small leak for a while now and it seems be getting worse. I know the leak is in the return line because a local pool company helped me find it by pressure testing and listening with a "big ear" on the pool deck, but I'm only now getting around to pinpointing exactly where it is. Today I dug under the side of the pool deck praying the leak was at the elbow heading toward the pool. Nope, unfortunately it appears the leak is at the actual return inlet fitting. I haven't dug far enough to get a visual confirmation, but the water was flowing pretty good through the dirt from the direction of the return inlet.

    So, now I need to figure out how to replace that fitting and not die from claustrophobia crawling under the pool deck. This looks like what I've got (just based on the looks of the inside of the pool): Hayward SP1408 Amazon.com: Hayward SP1408 In-Ground Swimming Pool Return Inlet Fitting: Patio, Lawn Garden It appears that this attaches to the pool wall and is held in place by the collar ring. Here are my concerns/questions:

    1. There's now way to replace this from inside the pool without crawling under the pool deck? By the looks of it, I'm guessing not.

    2. How do I attach this fitting to behind the vinyl? Do I have to remove the vinyl from the coping and hope I can get it back in the track? How do I do this? Special tools?

    3. Do all IG vinyl pools have rigid walls? When I feel the wall from inside the pool, it seems soft and earthy like it's pressed against dirt. Is it possible that there's no wall outside of the vinyl?

    4. Once the fitting is replaced, is this the right part to get it connected to the return line? Shop LASCO 1-1/2-in Dia PVC Sch 40 Adapter at Lowes.com Should I use thread tape or glue?

    5. Any tricks for digging and crawling under pool decks? It seems horrible.

    I never got a quote from a pool builder to fix this, but I'm wondering if I should. I'm pretty handy, but this seems like a true pain in the butt.

    Anyway, thanks for any input!

    - Damian
    16x32 vinyl in-ground; 20k gal; Pentair SuperFlo pump; Pentiar Sand Dollar filter w/ClearPro; 1.5" plumbing; leaky solar heating; 1 main drain, 1 skimmer, 1 return with 2 inlets; BBB; and 1 giant beach ball and about a dozen noodles

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Well I hope you dont have to dig too long of a tunnel under the deck. It's a lot of digging. And not to mention filling it back up.

    I prolly dont have all of the answers but maybe can get you started.

    1. Nope. You push the front part of the fitting through the hole in the wall, and tighten the nut on the back side of it.

    2. Yup. you have to untrack the liner enough to get your arm down in there. To put the liner back in the track, pour hot water on it to make it plyable. There are some YouTube videos on how to do this. Popsicle stick might come in handy.
    What you have to be careful about, is lining up the screw holes in the liner with the screw holes in the fitting. If you dont get them matched up, the puncture holes in the liner will let water leak behind the liner. You may even consider installing a very strong patch over the holes in the liner, then when the liner is back in, recut the hole and install the faceplate.

    3. Yes. They all have rigid walls. Metal, composite or if its a really odd one, plywood, or maybe even cinder blocks for pool walls. Some people like me put a foam padding on the wall before installing the liner to make it feel softer. My guess is thats prolly why your wall doesnt feel hard.

    4. I would recommend to get your return first, then take it to Lowes and get the parts that fit it. I would recommend to Glue it.

    5. Sharpen your shovel with a grinder. There is no substitute for a sharp shovel. wear clothes that you prolly never wants to wear again because they will get really really messy and muddy, and probably ruined.

    I tunneled under only 4 feet of decking to fix my leaking pool light. Even at only 4 ft, it was a GIANT pain in the kazoo. I never want to do it again.
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
    www.tftestkits.net Experience- it's what's learned just after you needed it most !!

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by Divin Dave View Post
    I tunneled under only 4 feet of decking to fix my leaking pool light. Even at only 4 ft, it was a GIANT pain in the kazoo. I never want to do it again.
    That's why most pool contractors would rather saw cut and jackhammer up a section of the deck to dig straight down...less back ache.

    You might at least get a few quotes and see what the pros are willing to do. Could save you a lot of back ache.
    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    MarianParoo's Avatar
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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Would there also be an issue with re-packing the under-soil so there would be no settling?
    27K IG rectangular; vinyl liner; sand filter; 1hp pump; auto-cover; heater; K-2006C.

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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    That's why most pool contractors would rather saw cut and jackhammer up a section of the deck to dig straight down...less back ache.

    You might at least get a few quotes and see what the pros are willing to do. Could save you a lot of back ache.
    Saw cutting is also a safety measure. Digging out a deck & crawling under is not the safest practice.
    & to send a guy under a tunnel deck is a safety liability.


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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Btw - it's unlikely the wall fitting failed.


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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Thanks everyone for the input!

    Luckily the pool deck is its narrowest where the leak is (a little over 3ft), so there won't be /that/ much digging and crawling. Although getting through all the roots that have also been taking advantage of this leak will be a pain.

    Davin Dave - thanks for the tips.

    MarianParoo - I also thought of this - any ideas about how to repack the dirt? Anyone want to chime in? Davin Dave, because you did this, how did you go about repacking the dirt?

    PoolguyinCT - yeah, I still don't know if the wall fitting itself failed or if the connection to the back of it failed (I haven't dug far enough yet). Either way, I'll still have to dig and crawl which is what I was hoping to avoid.

    Thanks again for the input!
    16x32 vinyl in-ground; 20k gal; Pentair SuperFlo pump; Pentiar Sand Dollar filter w/ClearPro; 1.5" plumbing; leaky solar heating; 1 main drain, 1 skimmer, 1 return with 2 inlets; BBB; and 1 giant beach ball and about a dozen noodles

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    MarianParoo's Avatar
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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    I have no idea about how to pack it. Hopefully someone does!
    27K IG rectangular; vinyl liner; sand filter; 1hp pump; auto-cover; heater; K-2006C.

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    I wasn't initially able to repack it all the way to the bottom of the deck. Over the next year or so, the dirt I dug out settled.
    When I would get around to it, I would push and pack more dirt up under the deck with the handle of my shovel. I never did get packed back in 100%

    My situation might be different than yours though. I have a slope from the edge of my deck down to yard level, so it was possible for me to do what I did.

    - - - Updated - - -
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
    www.tftestkits.net Experience- it's what's learned just after you needed it most !!

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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    I just wanted to post an update on my leak.

    I dug all the way to the pool wall and found the inlet and sure enough it was cracked in several spots and water was gushing out. So I drained to below the returns, bought a new inlet (thanks to Amazon's over-night Sunday delivery! Nobody had it locally), installed and connected it to the plumbing. I filled it back up last night and it seems to be holding strong.

    The hardest parts were getting through the roots and removing the liner from the coping enough to get my arm down in there to pull out the old inlet and put the new one in.

    Overall I thought it wasn't a terribly hard job, however I don't want to ever do it again. I only even attempted it because of the convenient location (only about 3ft wide concrete above that return) which made for a less terrifying crawl.

    It reminded me of the alternate dimension from Stranger Things under there...

    Here are a couple of pictures. I also had to cut off the old locking nut with a dremel tool because the cracked part seemed to seize it up and make it impossible to loosen. Thanks everyone for the help - now comes the fun of filling that hole back up!

    DSC02150.jpgDSC02154.jpgDSC02155.jpg
    16x32 vinyl in-ground; 20k gal; Pentair SuperFlo pump; Pentiar Sand Dollar filter w/ClearPro; 1.5" plumbing; leaky solar heating; 1 main drain, 1 skimmer, 1 return with 2 inlets; BBB; and 1 giant beach ball and about a dozen noodles

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Nice follow up! SO glad I did not have to do it!!!!! SCARY stuff there. Nerves of steel dude! Good job!

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit, Become a TFP supporter!

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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    I'm crazy handy, yet I don't know if I have the guts to deal with that....good job!

    If you don't mind me asking, how old is the pool?
    Any ideas how this break happened?

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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Did the roots crack the fitting? Did you find the roots wrapped around the pipe?

    Roots have been known to destroy PVC sewer pipe looking for water...

    Matt
    16k IG PebbleTec pool, 650gal spa, spillway and waterfall, 3HP IntelliFlo VS / 1.5HP WhisperFlo, Pentair QuadDE-100 filter, IC40 SWCG, MasterTemp 400k BTU/hr NG heater, KreepyKrauly suction-side cleaner, EasyTouch controls, city water, K-1001, K-2006 and K-1766 test kits, Mannitol test for borates

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    MarianParoo's Avatar
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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Wet, muddy, dark small-space with roots poking your eyes out. Glad that's over! Good job, and curious about your answer to Joyful/Matt.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Try calling your county extension office or spend some time googling side-root killing. I THINK there is a copper(?) solution that you can put on roots to discourage growth/branching, at least for a while. Otherwise they may divide and multiply. Just a thought.
    27K IG rectangular; vinyl liner; sand filter; 1hp pump; auto-cover; heater; K-2006C.

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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Yeah, it was pretty gross and I just threw the clothes that I was wearing away.

    I didn't see as many roots growing in/around the fitting itself as I thought I'd find. There were a lot of little ones, but nothing big enough to have caused the actual damage.

    I have 2 guesses as to how it happened - either stress from a lousy installation or stress from someone using the inlet as a step to get out of the pool (I certainly never did that, but I could see it happening). I don't know for sure though.

    I also don't know the age of the pool. It was here when I bought the house 5 years ago. I'd probably have to track down the original permit at the county office to figure out the age. House was built in the mid 70's, so it can't be older than that.

    Marian - I'll look into killing the roots too. I hadn't thought of that.

    On a possibly unrelated note, I am having trouble with the concrete deck sinking/cracking and starting to pull away from the coping in a couple of spots. I'd love to refurbish it, but I obviously like to go DIY with things and I don't know the first thing about leveling and resurfacing concrete. Could all those roots cause the concrete to settle and shift? I figure I'll deal with that when it's time to replace the liner. Is coping replacement something liner replacers do?
    16x32 vinyl in-ground; 20k gal; Pentair SuperFlo pump; Pentiar Sand Dollar filter w/ClearPro; 1.5" plumbing; leaky solar heating; 1 main drain, 1 skimmer, 1 return with 2 inlets; BBB; and 1 giant beach ball and about a dozen noodles

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Sometimes the county tax rolls will show build dates for pools.
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    2012 build and pics, 20k gal gunite, black onyx pebblesheen, OK flagstone, IntellifoVS, cart filter w/Pleatco, IC40 SWG, Solartouch, 5 12'x4' solar panels, HP50HA heat pump, 8mil solar cover, borates, TF-100 test kit, SONOS, Doheny's Discovery Robot, hot tub on bleach

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    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Liner replacers COULD also be coping replacers IF they have the skill set. Coping=concrete so it needs to be someone skilled in that trade. Liner replacers may be harder to find as that is not everyday work for most people.

    For the coping I would make sure to see some of their work as that is going to be a hard one to do because of the cage.

    Yes roots could cause some movement as can armadillos and other digging critters drainage from rain can also cause it.

    Kim
    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit, Become a TFP supporter!

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    Re: I found my leak, now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    That's why most pool contractors would rather saw cut and jackhammer up a section of the deck to dig straight down...less back ache.

    You might at least get a few quotes and see what the pros are willing to do. Could save you a lot of back ache.
    The main reason for cutting the deck is safety. There is no way of telling deck steel schedule, substrate stability, or if deck supports were used.
    In this day & age you don't dig a hole under concrete & tell your guys to crawl inside it.
    Back in the day, that's another story..


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