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Thread: Leak in the skimmer, at the copper/pvc junction

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    Leak in the skimmer, at the copper/pvc junction

    Hello everybody,

    I am new to this forum, I found it while searching some information regarding a leak.
    And it seems that there are pretty knowledgeable people around here, so here's my story:
    I recently noticed that my in-ground pool was leaking, the water level is going down about 1 inch a day.
    So I did some tests, and had a professional come to localize the leak.
    It appears that when pressurizing the suction line (from the pump to the skimmer), the pressure holds once the plug is pushed a few inches after the skimmer.
    When the plug is in the copper pipe in the skimmer, air leaks.
    There's a short copper pipe in the skimmer, and after that it's PVC all the way to the pump/filter.
    The conclusion is that the leak is at the junction between the copper and PVC pipes. The skimmer is in cement, and there are traces of acid corrosion, so past owners have used chlorine tablets in the skimmer, and that has eaten up that junction (said the professional).

    So my question is: how to fix this?
    all this piping is underground, but the leak is just a few inches under the skimmer, so it should be fairly accessible from the pipe opening. The solution offered by the professional is to dig out the concrete and install a new plastic skimmer, but it seems to be an overkill.

    Any advice, experience, suggestion, ideas?

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Leak in the skimmer, at the copper/pvc junction

    Welcome to TFP!

    No experience, but if you are going to have to dig it out, I'd be very tempted to try patching it with pool putty, which is a thick, two-part waterproof epoxy. But you are going to have to clean up the copper to get it to stick. That probably means you'll need to let the water drop below the skimmer so you can rig a wire brush to get to the joint, then a spatula of some type to spread the putty.
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    Re: Leak in the skimmer, at the copper/pvc junction

    I have been in the pool industry for 10 years and have seen many skimmers that leak. It is probably the most common place for leaks in a pool. Most are where the tiles meet the skimmer and the grout will crack away. In your case, it is called a skimmer that has failed and must be replaced. A company will have to come in and jackhammer your deck to cut out the failed skimmer and reset a new skimmer in place.

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    Re: Leak in the skimmer, at the copper/pvc junction

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    Welcome to TFP!

    No experience, but if you are going to have to dig it out, I'd be very tempted to try patching it with pool putty, which is a thick, two-part waterproof epoxy. But you are going to have to clean up the copper to get it to stick. That probably means you'll need to let the water drop below the skimmer so you can rig a wire brush to get to the joint, then a spatula of some type to spread the putty.
    Thank you John for the suggestion.
    I just wonder how I could efficiently spread the putty, and if it will hold the time.

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    Re: Leak in the skimmer, at the copper/pvc junction

    Quote Originally Posted by Pacifica
    I have been in the pool industry for 10 years and have seen many skimmers that leak. It is probably the most common place for leaks in a pool. Most are where the tiles meet the skimmer and the grout will crack away. In your case, it is called a skimmer that has failed and must be replaced. A company will have to come in and jackhammer your deck to cut out the failed skimmer and reset a new skimmer in place.
    That's what the professional offered me to do, but changing the whole thing seems to me overkill.
    Thank you for your information anyway.

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    Re: Leak in the skimmer, at the copper/pvc junction

    Is it worth a try with Marlig Fix A Leak before going the expensive route?

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Leak in the skimmer, at the copper/pvc junction

    Quote Originally Posted by cedbo
    Thank you John for the suggestion.
    I just wonder how I could efficiently spread the putty, and if it will hold the time.
    Whether it would hold or not is unknown. My thinking would be that it would only be worth a shot before you take the plunge to have it dug out. Even if it only reduces the leak to an inch a week, it might be worth it.

    Depending on how far down the pipe it is, I'd either get a stainless spatula like is used in a chemistry lab, or cobble something up with popsicle sticks.

    An idea would be to get a rubber ball (golf ball?) that just fits in the pipe, and put a steel threaded rod with nuts and fender washers on both sides. Push the ball down past the joint, pack the putty in the leak area and below it, then pull the ball out while rotating it. Hopefully it would push the putty into holes. It might take several attempts.

    If you could get a borescope like electricians use to see into walls, you could get a before and after look to see what was going on.

    Keep in mind, that these are just ideas from an engineer and farmer who maintains a bunch of old equipment that doesn't have replacement parts available. Who knows if it will work? Half of my repairs are last-ditch tries to keep something working.
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    Re: Leak in the skimmer, at the copper/pvc junction

    Welcome to TFP!!

    For a start, I'd try the 2 part epoxy patch. The patch would last 1 -5 years depending on a number of factors, but is inexpensive

    How wide is the deck at the skimmer? It's possible to dig under the deck and replace the copper piping with PVC (I've played 'tunnel rat' many(!) times )

    Please keep us posted as to your attempts and progress
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    Having done construction and service for 4 pool companies in 4 states starting in 1988, what I know about pools could fill a couple of books - what I don't know could fill a couple of libraries :-D

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

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