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Thread: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

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    SPKNout4CHRIST's Avatar
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    Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    Well I have been suspecting a loss of water other than to evaporation over the past couple of days, but last night it was confirmed. I lost 3" of water from a little after midnight last night and this morning at 8AM. In case you haven't seen some of my other posts, I have just finished battling algae and have owned the house/pool for a little over a month now, so I am still learning.

    The pump has been running 24/7 for three weeks now and I have just started losing water in the past few days, so it has to be something that has recently changed. I have been brushing and vacuuming the past few days and have cleaned the filter as well as the usual backwashing. There are not any leaks on my equipment pad, I have been keeping a close eye on it for the past few days. There is a valve that I have adjusted when vacuuming that I believe controls the skimmers, but without being able to talk to the previous owner, I am not sure. I have posted a picture below.

    If I turn the handle to the left (the side with three pipes coming from the pool) it seems I get more suction at the skimmer. If I turn it inline towards the pump, it seems I get about the same amount of suction maybe a little less (this is where the valve was when I purchased the home). If I turn the valve handle to the right the pump seems to stop sucking in water and it is just air. I am not sure what each of these pipes go to. I have two skimmers and one main drain in the deep end, but I have four total pipes? I left the handle of the valve halfway between the pipe going to the pump and the left set of pipes last night, first time I have left it like that. I am not sure if that would have lost water, since it was turned between the two directions that seem to flow water to the pump. I am not 100% on how these valves operate (ie what is open versus what is closed and what pipes go where).

    I have checked the waste line from the filter for a leak, but there is not any water coming from there. I can see the end of the pipe where the waste water goes.

    I apologize for the lengthy post, but I figured the more information I could provide the better off I would be. I have turned off the pump for now since the water level is almost all of the way below the skimmers. Where should I go from here in regards to checking what is the cause of the leak? Thanks in advance for all of the help!!!

    [attachment=1:r0ghmsif]P3250179.JPG[/attachment:r0ghmsif]

    [attachment=0:r0ghmsif]P3250180.JPG[/attachment:r0ghmsif]
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    22,600 gal. Vinyl Inground, FNS Plus 60 DE Filter, WhisperFlo 1HP Pump, SWG, Dolphin Nautilus

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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    One way to narrow things down is to turn off the pump overnight and see if the water level continues to fall or not. Leaks in the plumbing will often stop, or at least slow down significantly, when the pump is off, while leaks in the pool liner will continue even when the pump is off.

    From the look of your plumbing that valve most likely controls suction from the main drain vs three skimmer lines. The current setting is to draw from everywhere. If you had a spa I would expect it to be spa vs pool, but I don't remember you mentioning a spa.
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    SPKNout4CHRIST's Avatar
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    No, there is not a spa. I only have two skimmers, so why would there be three lines? Also, when I turn the valve to the right where there is only one line (what we assume is the main drain), no water comes into the pump.

    I have the pump off now and am filling it back up with water. Should I stop filling it with water and let it sit today? It is going to be 50 here today and cloudy with rain late this afternoon and tonight, so I don't know that I would get that accurate of a reading overnight tonight. Thanks!
    22,600 gal. Vinyl Inground, FNS Plus 60 DE Filter, WhisperFlo 1HP Pump, SWG, Dolphin Nautilus

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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    I'm not sure about the position of your valve so I will let someone with more knowlege address that.

    Vinyl liner pools can develop leaks where the steps and liner meet, seams in the liner, where the liner and skimmer meet, where the liner and return meets and any other equipment that required cutting the liner to install. Any pool can develop leaks in the plumbing if something breaks. The niche for the pool light (if you have one) is another place to check.

    At this point you can try a couple of things. You can mark the current water level with a pencil or a piece of masking tape, close the valves to the skimmer and main drain (if you have one, I don't remember) and let it sit with the pump off for 24 hours. After 24 hours check and see if the water level has dropped. If the drop is very slight then the problem is outside the body of the pool. If there is a significant drop then try putting a plug in the main drain and let it sit with the pump off overnight. If the plug stops the leak then you have an issue with the main drain or its plumbing. If it still leaks you can either get in the water with a bottle of food coloring and test all the seams and places where the liner meets fittings or you can let the water continue to drop until it stops. If you choose to let it drop do not allow the water to drop by more than 1/2 the volume of the pool. Once it has dropped below the lowest opening (exluding the main drain) we can focus on the steps and seams.

    Next try opening the skimmer only. If you do not want to add water to the pool you can use a manual vacuum to suck water off the bottom. Mark the water level and turn on the pump. Let it run over night and mark the water level in the morning. Note how much the water has dropped, if any. If it is significant then we can focus on the skimmer and return plumbing.

    Addendum: Since Jason posted while I have been composing this novel, and I have read your response, it is a possibility that the mystery line is an artifact from a previous liner or remodel. The line to the right may be plugged or disconected, or the valve may not be functioning correctly.
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    SPKNout4CHRIST's Avatar
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    Any suggesstions on how to close off the skimmer and main drain with that valve? I know the way it is now is pulling from all and to the left it seems to pull from the skimmers (not sure about main drain) and to the right nothing. Should I turn it to the right to "shutoff" the main and the skimmers for the 24 hr test? Thanks!!
    22,600 gal. Vinyl Inground, FNS Plus 60 DE Filter, WhisperFlo 1HP Pump, SWG, Dolphin Nautilus

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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    Look on the valve and see if it has an "off" setting. If I understand correctly that should close the valve so no water goes past that point. See if the opening in the bottom of the skimmer is threaded. If it is then get a threaded plug (most common size is 1 1/2" )to close off the skimmer plumbing. I am reluctant to have you set the valve to the right until we know that is not a broken connection.
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    Ok. I believe it is threaded, but will verify. I have to run into town later and will get a plug for it if it is threaded. I have stopped putting water into the pool for now until we can figure it out. The pump is also off, but I will probably use my manual vacuum later to get debris off of the bottom of the pool. There is a lot of dirt/dead algae/misc debris on the bottom from where the pool was left unattended by the previous owner. I guess it is possible that there is a hole down there that is covered by debris and has started to leak recently since I have been vacuuming down there and brushing around down there?? I know there are other possibilities, but I feel that could be too since I cannot see below the accumulation of "junk" down there!
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    I think I have shutoff the valve that controls the skimmer. I turned the valve the other way opposite as it is in the picture above. There is an off "tab" that is now facing towards the pump. I will mark the water level as it is now and check it in a little while. I noticed that the water level has dropped about 1/2" in the past 45 minutes. The pump was off, but the valves were open if that helps any.
    22,600 gal. Vinyl Inground, FNS Plus 60 DE Filter, WhisperFlo 1HP Pump, SWG, Dolphin Nautilus

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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    Quote Originally Posted by SPKNout4CHRIST
    Ok. I believe it is threaded, but will verify. I have to run into town later and will get a plug for it if it is threaded. I have stopped putting water into the pool for now until we can figure it out. The pump is also off, but I will probably use my manual vacuum later to get debris off of the bottom of the pool. There is a lot of dirt/dead algae/misc debris on the bottom from where the pool was left unattended by the previous owner. I guess it is possible that there is a hole down there that is covered by debris and has started to leak recently since I have been vacuuming down there and brushing around down there?? I know there are other possibilities, but I feel that could be too since I cannot see below the accumulation of "junk" down there!
    That could easily be the problem, a hole plugged with debris that is now dislodged since you have been cleaning up the pool. You could also have a plumbing leak as well.
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    Well in the past 45 minutes since shutting off the valve at the pump I have lost another 1/4" at least. Hmmm....

    Is it safe to manually vacuum since the water is below the skimmer? I know the skimmer with the hose attached to it will have water flow, but is it okay for the other skimmmer to not have any water flow? Thanks!
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    The water is now past the skimmer opening, but still on the outside of the skimmer plate. It seems to still be going down based on my marks and will soon be completely below the skimmer plate altogether.

    Is it okay to manually vacuum with one skimmer not taking in any water? If so, I will vacuum the debris from the bottom of the deep end and see if I can tell anything.

    The puzzling thing is that we cannot see any water anywhere in our yard, around the pool, anywhere that would indicate where the water is going. With 4 1/4" water loss in a 24,600 gallon pool, I would imagine that we would see an area in the yard that is wet, but there is not any. Does this make any sense?
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    You would have to be able to plug the hose directly into the skimmer pipe so the hose fit snug with no air leaks. If there is a second opening in the skimmer you would need to close the second hole. You would also need to plug the second skimmer so there is no air sucked into the system. If you do not feel confident you can limit suction to the vacuum hose only then I would not attempt it.

    Has the pool leaked past the return yet?

    As far as not seeing the leak goes...if the leak is at the bottom of the pool then there is a lot of soil to soak up water, especially if there has been little rain lately. Frankly I suspect your main drain may be the problem. If you have removed a lot of solid debris from the pool it could have been blocking the main drain enough so the leak was much slower. How clear is the water now? Try and see if there are any obvious tears in the liner.
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    No, it has not gone past the return yet. It is almost to the hole on the returns at the steps and at the top of the other returns.

    The water is really clear. I have walked the pool a couple of times and have not seen any tears. The boottom is completly covered in debris. I brushed lightly around the main drain to clear the bottom around it to see if it draws anything back to it. I have not noticed any dirt filling back in around the main drain (the line is completly showing around it without dirt on top of it, if that makes sense).
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    Do you have a light in the pool?
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    Yes, two of them.
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    How high is the water on the lights?
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    You may want to reach over the side of the pool and squirt some food coloring around the frame of the lights and see if any of it gets sucked in.
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    The water is not quite to the top of the lights. I put some colored water in a bottle and lightly poured it on the top of the water around the lights, skimmer, and returns, but I did not see any go any where except eventually dissolve into the water. Do I need to actually squirt it under the water for accurate results?
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    You need to squirt it close to the frame around the lights so you can see if it gets sucked in. If you put it on the surface of the water the dye will just disperse. I'll see if I can find you a video link so you can see what it looks like.

    EDIT: Here is a link to show how the food coloring looks when it is laying in the water. He turned on the skimmer to show the dye moving but there is a better example how that looks in the next link.

    This link shows how the dye looks when it is sucked into a leak.

    If you can reach around the frame of the lights test each one by squirting the dye close to the rim all the way around as much as you can reach.
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    Re: Lost 3" of Water Overnight...

    Ok. Thanks, those helped me see how it should look. I will check and see what happens and let you know. Thanks for the help so far!!
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