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Thread: Pool leaks and I want to close, now what?

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    Pool leaks and I want to close, now what?

    Hi, I'm a newbie here and I have a problem. I have an inground 22,500 gal rectangle, vinyl liner, with a sport bottom. I just realized a small leak and now it's time to close the pool. I do not know where the leak is. The leak rate is about 1/2 inch per day. I always close by partially draining, covering, etc., but with this leak, I'm afraid that my water will drain out before the hard winter months and my pipes will not be below the freeze line. I've winterized fine for the last 13 years, but I've not had a leak before. Is anti-freeze the answer here, or do I have more of a problem than that? Thanks in advance for your sage advice.
    24 ft AG pool, Hayward DE filter, 1 hp pump
    Would insurance pay for a new pool if that big tree fell in it?

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    If the leak is fairly high up you can let the pool drain to below the leak and be fine. If the leak is at the bottom of the pool you need to find it and fix it or the pool will be empty come spring and you will probably lose the liner and could have worse problems if you have a high water table.

    You can estimate the depth of the leak by measuring the leak rate, lowering the water several inches and measuring the leak rate again. If they are nearly the same the leak is deep if they are significantly different the leak is higher up.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

  3. Back To Top    #3
    [quote="JasonLion"]If the leak is at the bottom of the pool you need to find it and fix it...

    Thank you for the quick response. I believe the leak is deep, and I think I know the quadrant of the pool in which it is. What tips does anyone have to help me locate it so I can fix it before I must close? Again, my thanks in advance.
    24 ft AG pool, Hayward DE filter, 1 hp pump
    Would insurance pay for a new pool if that big tree fell in it?

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    Cozmo, are you sure it's in the liner? You can plug all returns and suction ports, mark the waterline and see if the water lowers over the course of a day, if it doesn't go down significantly (accounting for evaporation or splashout) the leak is in one of the lines and can be dealt with in the spring. As Jason said, if it's in the liner lower that where you customarily drain the pool to when closing, you'll need to address it before closing

    Good luck with it and keep us 'posted' as to your results
    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!)

  5. Back To Top    #5
    Again, thank you for the response. Yes, it is in the pool and not the lines. I turned off the pump, plugged both skimmers and sealed the bottom drain at the drain itself. Water loss was at the same rate.

    I have an idea and I'm wondering if this will work. Since I do not know the exact location of the leak, I wonder if I could turn off the pump and lay a large length of "Saran Wrap" over the area where I suspect the leak. Would the water pressure hold the plastic wrap into place and temporarily stop the leak enough that I could see if I was in "the ball park". If I didn't lose any more water, I could carefully roll back the wrap until I found the leak. I think I would then be able to tell where the leak was because the wrap would be slightly more difficult to remove from the place where the leak actually is because the water pressure would tend to hold it into place. Then I could fix the leak until spring and then get a new liner, as this one is about 15 years old. Does this sound like it could work? Do you have any other suggestions?

    I do appreciate your responses and thank you for your continued help.
    24 ft AG pool, Hayward DE filter, 1 hp pump
    Would insurance pay for a new pool if that big tree fell in it?

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    If you can't confirm your leak, you might want to consider the following

    I live in Southern Ontario Canada. In September the overnight temperatures can drop into the 40's but the high day time temperature yesterday was 85F. Warm daytime air can hold much more humidity (water) than the cool night air. So every morning especially after a cool night, there is a quick rise in air temperature and corresponding drop in relative humidity (how much water the air hold). So water is sucked into the air from bodies of water causing fog. You'll notice this around lakes, ponds, marshes etc, your pool is no different.

    I had an algae bloom last week that I shocked. I didn't want to use the solar cover at night for fear the high chlorine levels would damage it. Each morning, the mist produced from the pool was incredible and I had more water loss than I did in mid summer.

    The best way I've found to determine if you really have a leak is to place a pail of water on one of the stairs and fill it to the same level as the pool. If you use a cover, try to make the top of the pail close to the waterline and pull the cover over the pail . After a couple days if the water in the pool is lower than that of the pail you've confirmed your leak, otherwise the waterloss is due to evaporation.
    Carl Schnurr
    Pool: 96,000 litre, vinyl liner, 1 HP pump, sand filter, Aqua-rite SWG, Hayward e.vac, installed 2005
    Spa: La-Z-Boy 'Relieve', 1300 litre, acrylic, with ozonator, installed 2017

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    Thank you for your response, cschnurr. Yes, I've used the bucket technique a few weeks ago and determined that the pool is leaking. Now it is at a rate of about 1 1/2" or more per day. I am going to brave the chilly pool today, armed with a bottle of food coloring. If I can find the leak, I can patch it, but I'm not very good at finding it. I wonder if there is a big "taboo" about discussing how to find leaks on boards like this, because as soon as I asked that question, the 'pros' stopped giving answers. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is the way the 'pros' earn a living in the fall, so who would want to divulge the "leak finding" secrets on a public board? I thank everyone who responded and will continue to monitor responses as I really would like to save money on "freeze damage" repair in the spring. Thanks in advance to anyone considering giving me some leak finding clues.
    24 ft AG pool, Hayward DE filter, 1 hp pump
    Would insurance pay for a new pool if that big tree fell in it?

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Finding leaks is tedious and often takes a little luck.

    You will need some food coloring and a squirt bottle, often the dye comes in such a bottle. Get a snorkle and goggles so you can stay underwater with very little movement. Turn off the pump and give the water time to settle down so the water is as still as possible.

    Swim around the pool very slowly and gently, moving as little water as possible, and look carefuly at everything. If you see anything that looks in any way questionable very gently squirt a small bit of food coloring right near it. If you are near the leak you will see the dye move towards the leak and disappear. The bigger the leak the easier this is. Small leaks are fairly easy to miss.

    Some people have found whole areas that are filled with small holes, so look around any leak you find to see if there are additional problems in the same area.

    There are electronic leak detectors but I don't know of anywhere you can buy or rent one. I have also hear that you can hear leaks with a suitable waterproof microphone, but those are also hard to find.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Cozmo, sorry - I wasn't 'blowing you off'. I thought that you were going to try the Saran wrap idea, and as I've never tried it, I didn't think I could add anything There is a tool, I had one when I worked in Va, but don't know who makes it. It attaches to the vacuum pole and holds a 1 oz bottle (like test kit reagents come in) and has a string to activate the roller that squirts the dye out - this provides minimal water movement and YOU DON'T HAVE TO GET WET!! You may be able to search on line to find one.

    Whether you get in the pool to dye test it or get one of the rigs I mentioned, you want to check the seams, any dark spots or lines that won't brush away and anywhere that debris collects (the water flowing through the hole will often entrap leaves, etc). I've now given you all the 'secrets' I know for finding a leak in a liner What we do is don the SCUBA tank and inspect, and dye test, the entire pool - it's a little expensive for our customers, but we end up finding the leaks.

    There is a product, that I learned about here, that finds the leaks by putting a small electric current into the water, I'm trying to talk my boss into getting one, -- it's called Leaktrac 2200 (website is www.leaktools.com)

    I hope that you can get this taken care of before the pool freezes, and if you need more help or advice - please ask!
    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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    Cozmo50,

    Welcome to the forum.
    The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is the way the 'pros' earn a living in the fall, so who would want to divulge the "leak finding" secrets on a public board? I thank everyone who responded and will continue to monitor responses as I really would like to save money on "freeze damage" repair in the spring. Thanks in advance to anyone considering giving me some leak finding clues.
    As you spend a little more time here, you will find nothing could be further from the truth. As per Ted's post above, I know of no one on this board who would do anything but willingly offer the knowledge they have gained.....that's why they're here.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Dave, the 'sharing of knowledge' is just my way of 'paying back' the forum that gives me the info to do my job better
    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!)

  12. Back To Top    #12
    JasonLion, waste, Duraleigh,
    Thank you all for taking the time to post. It's been cold here, but today I got in the pool with red food coloring in the small bottle that allows dispensing one drop at a time. The water temp was 62 degrees and it was cold. I made a snorkel type device that just didn't work right as I did not have enough length to it. I gave up on that and just tried holding my breath. With the pump turned off and no extraneous current, I tried to attack the suspect areas with the red dye. Just getting down without creating a disturbance with current was most frustrating. Then, once I did get down, I kept floating back up. I then made a weight belt of sorts by putting a landscaping stone in a large sack with handles long enough to wear over my head on my neck. That did a good job keeping me in place. My lung capacity is really diminished because of a pulmonary embolism a few years back, so I could not stay down long. I was able to search for a while in the suspected area, but came up short. I have a sand bottom and one area is "spongy" where water must have gotten under the liner. the "spongy area is about one foot to two feet wide and runs lengthwise for about 12 feet, about 4 feet from the pool wall. It runs parallel to that pool wall. I checked the seams all around this area and above it on the bottom slopes coming from the wall. (sport bottom) I also tried along the very bottom of the wall with no luck. My core temperature was really dropping and I thought it was a real good time to get out. I have not tried the Saran Wrap thing yet because I wasn't sure if that would work. I wasn't initially thinking that this would be anything more than a temporary way to find the leak, but now I'm wondering if it would find the leak, it could hold until spring. I seems to make sense that a few sheets of saran wrap drifting around on the bottom of the pool would eventually find their way to the leak and "seal" it until spring. Do you think this could work? The water pressure at the leak should be enough to hold it in place, at least until spring when I could get the liner replaced.

    Gentlemen, I am a newbie on this forum. I hope that "Mr. Waste" (please excuse me sir, I don't know your real moniker), nor any of you, does not think I am ungrateful for any help I'm receiving. On the contrary, I am most appreciative. It just seemed that when I tried to get a better handle on how to find a leak, the responses stopped completely. Even some direct e-mails were not answered. I hope I did not strike the wrong chord with any of you that have been trying to help. I also understand business, and I would not be aggrieved in any way if you were unwilling to respond due to business concerns. It appears that you are quite sincere and I do appreciate that.

    As always, thank you in advance for any comments or assitance with this.
    - - - Coz
    24 ft AG pool, Hayward DE filter, 1 hp pump
    Would insurance pay for a new pool if that big tree fell in it?

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    Marillion Fan's Avatar
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    Cozmo don't fret.... I have been on both this forum and the Pool Forum and the help that these people give in answering the same questions over & over from different posters is astonishing they will try to the finish to help you with your problem almost to the point of coming to your house and helping you personally. (And depending if someone is close well... ya never know )

    I too had a leak this year although mine was during summer but it took me 3 weeks to find it keep looking and I'm sure it will turn up.
    18x33 15700 Gal Oval Above Ground
    Ranger Sand Filter w/Praher Multi Port Valve
    A.O. Smith 1.5 hp Pump
    Confer E9120 Steps
    BBB And Sparkling Clean.

  14. Back To Top    #14
    Update: I found the leak. Eureka!!! I founda the leaka!! Here is a tip as a small payback for the assistance I received: The food coloring thing is really the way I found it, but I used it in an interesting way. Since the water was so cold, and I kept disturbing the water when I moved through it squeezing the drops of coloring, I found somthing that works pretty good. I found a long handled gadget that people use to get items from high shelves. It has kind of a pistol grip and when you squeeze it, two fingers pinch the item and you can pick it up from a high shelf. You may know what I'm talking about. Anyway, I secured the small vial of food coloring to one of the fingers and "gripped" it by using the trigger grip. I could then put the food coloring on the bottom while laying on the pool deck and I had minimal disturbance of the water. I saw a suspect area which at first I thought to be a small piece of pine needle laying on the bottom. The food coloring sucked right into it like people getting on an Asian subway. The "pine needle" turned out to be a 3/4" slit in the liner. A quick check of the area revealed another slit about 4 inches away from the first. No other leaks were found, but I am confident that this was my total problem. I sealed the leak(s) with a patch and the water level did not drop at all in 5 hours. With the leak I could have lost as much as a half inch in that time. I turned on the pump and mixed in my closing chemicals and with the help of my sons got the pool closed and covered for the winter. I will redo the patch in the spring, and make a decision whether or not to get a new liner installed then. As for now, let it snow, let it freeze, let it do whatever it normally does in the winter. I'm just glad I found it. Thank you all for your patience and kind assistance.
    24 ft AG pool, Hayward DE filter, 1 hp pump
    Would insurance pay for a new pool if that big tree fell in it?

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    Cozmo,

    Nice work! Also, that's a great tip. I don't recall seeing that anywhere on the forums for the last 6 years. I know exactly the device you're talking about and it makes perfect sense. That is sure to help others accomplish a troublesome task.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  16. Back To Top    #16
    Marillion Fan's Avatar
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    And how soon do you think it will be before we see some modified version of the grabber in pool stores?
    18x33 15700 Gal Oval Above Ground
    Ranger Sand Filter w/Praher Multi Port Valve
    A.O. Smith 1.5 hp Pump
    Confer E9120 Steps
    BBB And Sparkling Clean.

  17. Back To Top    #17
    Thanks all. I'm thinking you can pick up the item now in the housewares department for about $9.95, but when the value of the tool is realized for pool owners they will move it to 'pool supplies' and hawk it for $69.95.

    Have a great week - - - Coz
    24 ft AG pool, Hayward DE filter, 1 hp pump
    Would insurance pay for a new pool if that big tree fell in it?

  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Coz, glad to hear that your pool is now ready for the winter!

    Let's hear nothing but 'Trouble Free Pool' stories next season
    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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