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Thread: In ground pool leak

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    In ground pool leak

    I have a gunnite, in-ground, 30K gallon pool. It has a 1.5 HP pump, the filter is the kind that takes powder and needs backwashing once in a while. I Just replaced pump that was 1HP because it was old (the breaker kept tripping when it started, and it was making a loud noise), and I wanted more pressure through returns. There are three returns and one skimmer with a basket and four chlorine pucks.

    I'm losing water such that when I run the filter I have to run a hose, and have to plug the returns to avoid the loss. I know that the returns are pulling because I've put food coloring next to the jets with the pump off and dye gets sucked in. I've plugged all returns and tested each individually: with the other two plugged I open one, hold my hand over for a minute then do the food color test. Each pulls equally hard. I've dug out the dirt by the pump and there is no leak under it, so it's in the ground somewhere. How I can narrow my search to avoid digging up the whole pool?

    The pool is surrounded by a sidewalk so I'll probably be breaking it up so I want to be certain.

    I know the depth at which the leaking stops, and it's at least a foot above the returns. So it seems to me that the leak is not where the jets connect to the pool wall, which seems to be the most common place to find them.

    I'm trying to devise a way to shove something into the jets that will stop water from going past, then doing the dye test at the next jet. That way I could narrow my search.

    Any ideas about any of this?

    Thanks,

    Scott

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    Hey, Scott,

    Welcome to the forum I can't quite figure out your terminology. On the forum, we typically refer to a return as that outlet which returns water into the pool.

    Water is drawn from the pool and up to the pump through the skimmers and perhaps a drain at the bottom of the pool if you have one. Help us understand which pipes you are referring to a little better and we can help
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Re: In ground pool leak

    I'm a newbie to the terminology

    I have three returns, from which water that has been filtered is returned to the pool. I was calling them jets. I also have a drain at the bottom of the pool, which is at the bottom of the deep end, which is about eight feet deep. The pipes are all PVC, but I'm not sure of the gauge, but they are rigid and seemingly tough. From the skimmer to the pump, the PVC seems to be 1". From the pump to the returns, the pipe leading to the returns is maybe 2", but I think that it is reduced before going underground (I have to verify). Maybe I can post pictures, but I'm not sure where to upload them to in order to share here. I'll research that and it will be a lot simpler to explain. But basically, it seems that the three returns in the pool are on one routing of PVC with elbows and tees underground, but I didn't install the pool, as it was here when we bought the house. I have a feeling having installed a stronger pump may have blown a joint underground, but that's only a guess. I want to figure out how to know approximately where the leak is.

    Thanks for answering. I'm glad to put forth any information to make my situation clearer.

    Scott

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    Here is a link http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...8&l=96b50b535f to an album I uploaded to facebook showing pictures of the pump and the pool. I have an algae problem as you can see.

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    So, it sounds like when the pump is off, water is being sucked back into the returns.....is that correct?

    Are there any telltale signs of wet ground around the decking or around the equipment? Is the decking badly heaved in an area?

    know the depth at which the leaking stops, and it's at least a foot above the returns.
    In this sentence, what are you referring to as the returns?
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    Yes, when the pump is off, water is being sucked back into the returns. There is no sign of wetness anywhere, but I'm guessing that the leak is beneath the pavement so I probably wouldn't see anything. In the quoted sentence, I meant the returns where the water is being sucked back into, that blow water from the filter into the pool when it the pump is on. But the leakage stops when the level of the water reaches a level that is higher than the returns, which means to me that the leak is in an underground pipe that leads to the return that is at a higher elevation--the elevation being equal to the water level when the leak stops happening. That's what I've concluded, but there could be other devices in play that I'm not aware of.

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    I got ya'. Well, generally speaking the pipes run parallel to the earth when traveling towards the returns so my best guess would be it would be somewhere around where they enter the ground vertically but I think you've dug down there already. right?
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    Welcome to TFP!!

    Have you read the article in Pool School about Leak Detection? It might help you narrow down the leak.

    Does the pool loose more water with the system running?


    My gut feeling is that one of the return lines is broken ( in a place after it splits from the main feed line from the pump). If it's not the main return line, figuring out which of the 3 return lines is broken and where will be difficult to ascertain - and plugging only that port will be as difficult (expensive) as fixing it.


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    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

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    I thought the same thing about the parallel lines, so it is amazing to me that I didn't find the leak where I dug it up. I felt pretty smug that I was going to find it right there. I have a crazy idea that might work. I'm thinking of putting a plastic bead at the end of a fishing line and see if the pull is strong enough to carry the line toward the leak. If I'm right, the leak is big enough to emit the same amount of water as my garden hose when turned at full blast, since I can run a garden hose at the same time and not gain or lose any water. When the leak is encountered, the bead would be pulled through and stop. I can measure the distance after pulling it back out and use that information to locate the approximate location to dig.

    What would be sweet is to drop a small device without a string that can be detected somehow at the surface. It could be a radio signal or GPS or something simpler finds it's way to the leak and sticks in the dirt.

    I read through the article, but I didn't see anything that seemed useful to me. I'm pretty sure the leak isn't happening at the opening, since the water stops pulling above the returns. I think there can be little doubt that it's and underground leak.

    Come to think of it, there is a patch of grass that grows lush by the pool side beyond the sidewalk. Underground water would certainly explain it.

    I'll update later if my idea works, and even if it doesn't. There has to be an easy way to find the leak.

    Scott

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: In ground pool leak

    The easiest way to find the leak is to hire a leak detection company, but probably not the least expensive. Since you already know where to look you might get a break on the call. You may also be able to rent a pipe inspection camera if you have an industrial tool rental place close to you.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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    Re: In ground pool leak

    I'm thinking of putting a plastic bead at the end of a fishing line
    Well, that's pretty clever. One of those styrofoam packing peanuts may work...or a cork.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    I'm on a budget, as in, I don't have a dime to spend on hiring someone else to find the leak for me. My motto is, never pay someone else what you can screw up yourself. I may punt if I run out of options, but not until.

    You may also be able to rent a pipe inspection camera if you have an industrial tool rental place close to you.
    That's not a bad idea. I'll look into it to see if the fee is reasonable.

    On a side note, my algae problem seems to have diminished (I didn't mention the algae--you can see in the pictures though--it has gone from a pea green to a light turquoise overnight). Last year I had the same problem after algae had taken over. I killed the algae but the water was still murky. I got a clarity tablet of some sort (in a globe with holes poked in the sides in my filter basket) and the problem went away.

    Scott

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    Ok, this defies logic, but the leak is just inside my second return, about six 9 inches inside the wall. That's one leak for sure. There may be more. I don't understand though how the pool would stop draining before the water gets below the return instead of a foot above it. Something is not right. I bent a coat hanger straight with a 90-degree hook on the end, and I can feel a rough patch and I can snag the hook. I can't seem to poke it through, but something is definitely not right. The other two returns don't have the same rough patch.

    So, is there a way I can stuff something into the return to take it out of commish and run the other two for now? And, is there a way to repair on the inside of the pipe? Ironically, and according to Murphy's Law, the cement is widest leading to where this crack is and there is no choice but to break cement or the pool wall.

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    I wouldn't be so quick to blame the rough spot unless you're absolutely sure it's leaking from there.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
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    Re: In ground pool leak

    I had this problem with my pool. I plugged all the returns and my leak went away. It drained down to the return level and stopped. The most efficient and cost effective to me in the long run was to call out a Leak company with a microphone. The more you can narrow it down for them the cheaper it is. I had purchased plugs from the hardware store and started plugging stuff.

    The amount of water cost made the leak detection look cheap. A common place where the returns break is at the T-fitting up against the side of the pool,that's where mine was. THe guy had a microphone and X marked the spot. I cut out 2 of my newly laid 18x18 tile I had just laid. Rented a Hilty jackhammer from Home depot and banged it out. Fixed the broken T. Filed back up with concrete and relaid 2 new tiles.

    The returns will be connected together. I was getting sand and dirt sprayed out of the returns as well as the leak.

    Call a pro, have him mark it and decide if you want to do it yourself. I'll give some pointers if you tackle it yourself
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    Re: In ground pool leak

    Thanks for all the replies on this. I figured out where the leak is and I have done something temporary to let the pool run for the summer. I attached a cork to the end of a fishing line and weighted it down until it didn't sink or float and fed it into each return. All roads led to Rome as they say, bringing me to the second return, just inside. I felt inside with a bent hanger and there was something just about eight inches inside of it. I got a pipe balloon from a plumbing supply place, which is like a bike inner tube, but is about six inches in length and cylindrical, fitting easily inside the return. I inflated this after sticking it inside so that it covered the area. After that, I checked the other two returns and no food coloring was getting sucked inside any more. I've been running the pool now for a couple weeks this way and have not had to use the garden hose once.

    I'm not sure why the pool stopped leaking at a level above the returns. It doesn't make any sense, but once plugged, the pool does not leak any longer.

    The happy ending to this is, I didn't have to pay a pool company for the use of fancy equipment. Kind of like Davey beating Goliath, but in this story Goliath is a good guy and Davey just needs to save money where he can.

    Thanks again for all the suggestions and comments.

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    Quote Originally Posted by jackett_dad
    I'm not sure why the pool stopped leaking at a level above the returns. It doesn't make any sense, but once plugged, the pool does not leak any longer.
    the closer water level gets to the leak the less pressure there is. so the leak might slowdown or even stop.
    26K In-ground Vinyl Pool | Hayward DE4820/SP0710XR50 filter | 1.125 HP Dual Speed Hayward Super Pump | Aquasol Solar

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    That's very interesting; I'll have to remember that. Probably there is a lot of packed dirt surrounding the hole in the pipe, so pressure is needed to push the water through. If the pipe was surrounded by air, probably the leak would not stop until the level dropped below it.

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    Re: In ground pool leak

    I would also say, that if one return is a little higher that the others and the break is on top of the pipe or T, it could settle kinda high in relation to the returns.

    As the dirt around the pool settles, a common place to break is around the top of the T feeding a return.

    Good luck!

    I think I have a suction leak at present and am a wee ticked off about it.
    14x30 PebbleTec(Caribbean Blue) 12,000 Gals BORAX
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    Re: In ground pool leak

    I've read that you can use pvc pipe set on end on the ground as a sort of stethoscope to listen for underground leaks. Read about it in a farming magazine for finding irrigation pipe leaks
    Dan D
    Used 2003 Aqua Leader 27'x52", 17,800 w/10" hopper, SwimPro SW256T 250# sand filter, Hayward PowerFlo LX pump 1hp impellor, Emerson 1 1/2 hp motor, setup Aug 2012 Summer 2011 used Summer Escapes Ring pool 14' x 42", Intex 1600gph sand filter, HTH 6 way test kitTF-100 w/stirrer, Well water @ FC=0, PH=7.2, TA=290, CH=320

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