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Thread: Not sure of next step for leak?

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    Not sure of next step for leak?

    My wife and I purchased our home August 31, and as part of the closing the previous owner was required to fix a leak (I noticed a large water loss from one day to the next during a walk through). He paid Hamlin Pools to do a leak test, and they said both skimmers were leaking. Both skimmers were replaced, plumbing was redone from those skimmers, and deck was replaced and buffed. Looked good as new. At this time they noticed the main drain was plugged and tried to blow it without and success. I have been pretty much running through the skimmers since then.
    I was following BBB and doing great, until I noticed I was loosing CYA. I would put some in, and wait to test. The numbers would be great, and a test a week after that should no CYA. I did notice I was loosing chlorine way too fast so I tested the CYA again.
    I notice a bit of water coming out of the pump's pressure side connection, and used our home warranty (actually worth it) to get a brand new pump connected. Still losing water though.
    So, early October I called Hamlin Pools to come and check to see why the pool was still leaking. I got a bit of a run around, and they finally just came out this Monday.

    Hamlin Pools says that after they did the prior repair (skimmers) they did a pressure test on the skimmer lines which were fine. They did a bucket test yesterday which showed around 2" of water loss in a day, and a hydrostatic test on the skimmers which showed not leak (no water lost).

    The water level is now about 1/2" under the highest skimmer and right at the lowest skimmer, and Hamlin has marked the bucket again to see if it continues to leak.

    At this point the water is no where near light or returns.

    I've attached photos for review, sorry for the unclean pool I have not wanted to put in any money till this is figured out. Any cracks on the deck have been there are while, the house has had previous settling and engineers said it has stopped. Any ideas or opinions are appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Pool is around 11K gallons kidney shaped, 1.5hp hayward pump, 36sqft de filter, 3-5 feet deep.


    11K Gal, Plaster, 1 HP Pentair Challenger Pump, 36 SqFt (Purex Triton) DE Filter

  2. Back To Top    #2

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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    I would check where the various fittings meet the pool. Sometimes gaps form. Another potential is the light niche and it's conduit. If you van get some dye pens, they are useful for this. They are like a syringe with an extension tube. The tube allows you to place dye in a spot without your hand creating a current. The dye is neutrally buoyant. Any nearby suction will draw the dye in.

    The syringe and tube applicator make this system better than using food color droppers.

    Scott
    Owner of - PoolGuyNJ LLC
    Expert Pool and Spa Repairs, Renovations, and Augmentation. Helping people decide what is the right gear for meeting their needs. Expectations Set, Expectations Met, No Surprises.

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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    I guess I am at the point where I plan to just let the pool level drop as far as possible. Will look into the dye pens as soon as it levels off, if it ever does.

    Saturday I had to put the bucket on the next step due to the water level dropping below that. I marked that level, and it dropped about an inch by Sunday (inside of bucket dropped 1/8 - 1/4 inches). This morning the water level seems to have not dropped by much, but I will check it when I get home.

    Currently the water level is above (3 or so inches) the pool light, and returns.

    A thought did come to me this morning though, as far as where the water level is now. It seems like the water level could be just around the level of where the plumbing runs from the pool to the pump. If the water level does not change significantly at this point, could it mean there is a leak in the main drain? My thought is that at a certain level there would not be enough water pressure from the main drain to push the water up to that section of the plumbing. This would seem to cause the water level to stop dropping. Just asking to see if this would be possible.
    11K Gal, Plaster, 1 HP Pentair Challenger Pump, 36 SqFt (Purex Triton) DE Filter

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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    **Update**
    So, this week we refilled the pool and the pool guy came by to plug all the returns. I think we may have found the problem. The water level has dropped the same amount in the bucket as outside the bucket.

    I have asked them to give me a quote on what it would cost to get it taken care of. I know the leak could still be one or more spots along those return lines, so the actual costs might be hard to pinpoint just yet.

    Is there anything I can do on my own from this point to figure out where the leak actually is at. There are four returns in the pool. I am assuming the plumbing to those returns split up at some point from a single pipe leading from the pump. I cannot think of a way to check each return.

    I have a feeling their quote is going to be pretty expensive. I can and have worked with pvc pipe in the past, and don't hesitate to do repairs myself. I just am not sure where to go from this point.
    11K Gal, Plaster, 1 HP Pentair Challenger Pump, 36 SqFt (Purex Triton) DE Filter

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    If all the returns are tied together underground then you will either need someone who can run a camera through the system to pinpoint the leak or dig the return lines up and do a visual inspection.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    If you call a professional leak detection service, they dont do it with cameras. They use listening devices that can pinpoint a leak fairly close so you dont have to dig up the entire deck.

    I know you said you lost no water once the returns were plugged, but you should probably have a pressure test done to be sure.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    I have seen a diy hydrophone online, and was considering buying the pieces (under $20) to put one together. My thought was to keep each return line plugged, and one at a time unplug one while pushing the hydrophone into the line with some slightly stiff cable (to make it around bends). Not sure if I could pinpoint the exact return(s) that are leaking, and/or if I could pinpoint where along the pipe it may be leaking.

    Is this a waste of time? Just trying to see what I can do myself for less cash, what someone else might do for a large payment.

    I will definitely make sure they pressure check all returns after repairs are made.

    thanks
    11K Gal, Plaster, 1 HP Pentair Challenger Pump, 36 SqFt (Purex Triton) DE Filter

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    msgtdan's Avatar
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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    I'd read about this before and finally researched the link, it's something you might try. Looks cheap.
    http://www.farmshow.com/view_articles.php?a_id=467
    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

  9. Back To Top    #9

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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    I know I'll make one for next year.

    Scott
    Owner of - PoolGuyNJ LLC
    Expert Pool and Spa Repairs, Renovations, and Augmentation. Helping people decide what is the right gear for meeting their needs. Expectations Set, Expectations Met, No Surprises.

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    Quote Originally Posted by msgtdan
    I'd read about this before and finally researched the link, it's something you might try. Looks cheap.
    http://www.farmshow.com/view_articles.php?a_id=467
    I will definitely be trying this. My wife is a nurse so I already have the stethescope.
    11K Gal, Plaster, 1 HP Pentair Challenger Pump, 36 SqFt (Purex Triton) DE Filter

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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    I tried the hydrophone yesterday. Unfortunately it wasn't very precise. I placed it in front of each return, but didn't hear much. Then I placed it inside each return. It did seem that I could hear a trickling type sound on two of them. I plan to put together the stethescope/styrofoam cup thing from the link above and maybe pinpoint it a bit better.

    I did notice one thing, but I can't seem to get my head wrapped around what it might mean.

    I unscrewed all of the plugs from the four returns just before I listened for noise. When I unscrewed the plug for the return farthest from the pump a large amount of air (bubbles) came out of that return. This was the same return which I heard most of the water trickling sound from. I guess as the water is leaking out, air is getting in to that section. I just figured since all four are connected, that the water from the other sections would fill in any space.

    Thanks again.
    11K Gal, Plaster, 1 HP Pentair Challenger Pump, 36 SqFt (Purex Triton) DE Filter

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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    I'm back. Due expenses in other areas, the pool leak situation has still not bee resolved. However, I do believe I have some direction. Just want to see if this sounds right.

    1. I have screwed plugs into each (4) return and filled the pool above the level of those returns; no/minimal water loss was noted. All other water level & leak tests (bucket, hydrostatic, ink) did not show a water loss (other than when returns were unplugged).
    2. My hope (praying) now is that I can dig up the location where the return lines split up from out of the filter. I can then pressure test each individual return line, and cap which ever one is the culprit (or fix the leak if it's at or near the dig location).
    3. When doing the pressure test should I use water (hose with an shutoff valve) or air (air compressor) to check for the leak. I plan to hook it all up to a pressure guage and watch it stay level or drop. Also, I plan to only allow enough pressure to meet what would normally be placed on those pipes (per pervious normal clean filter guage readings).

    Thanks for the help and advice.
    11K Gal, Plaster, 1 HP Pentair Challenger Pump, 36 SqFt (Purex Triton) DE Filter

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    I was reading through this post and was all excited to hear how the "stethescope/styrofoam cup thing" worked and then you did not post for a long time Did you try it?

    I am not too familiar with how the returns are plumbed, but they might have one pipe from the filter to the pool and then a full loop around the pool with Ts off for each eyeball. If that is the case, then I do not think you can just block off one return if the break is in the loop.

    Again ... I do not know if this is how yours (or any) pools are plumbed. Although I thought that was the preferred method to equalize the flow from each return ... but I could be wrong.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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  14. Back To Top    #14

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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    Sorry, the styrofoam didn't really work too well (too much ground noise around pool from passing vehicles and such). What did work much better was using a microphone within a rubber balloon. I found it on another site (pretty much headphones, microphone, receiver, rubber balloon, tubing, and some silicone http://nemohousing.com/?page_id=296).

    I think the pvc & styrofoam cup works better on dirt than on concrete as the concrete seems to conduct sound/vibrations from outside noises better than dirt. I'm no scientist though so don't hold me too that comment.
    11K Gal, Plaster, 1 HP Pentair Challenger Pump, 36 SqFt (Purex Triton) DE Filter

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    Thanks for the summary ... although the MacGyver-esque hydrophone device seems interesting too.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    Unless there is a separate pipe for each return you cant plug one eyeball at a time. You need to leave pool full overnight pump off. Blow out return lines with air and cap each return as it blows air. Then put about 10-15 psi on the return line and use the mic to listen for air bubbling in the leaked water under the deck. That is one of the ways we do it. If you can't maintain 10-15 psi you do have a leak in the line most likely.
    Over 30 years in the pool business
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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    Also you can't pressurize water and air in the line together Anderson, which is a large detector manufacturer told that to us.
    Over 30 years in the pool business
    We build vinyl, fiberglass, stainless steel pools
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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    Quote Originally Posted by swimcmp
    Unless there is a separate pipe for each return you cant plug one eyeball at a time. You need to leave pool full overnight pump off. Blow out return lines with air and cap each return as it blows air. Then put about 10-15 psi on the return line and use the mic to listen for air bubbling in the leaked water under the deck. That is one of the ways we do it. If you can't maintain 10-15 psi you do have a leak in the line most likely.

    Will try this and see what I can hear.
    11K Gal, Plaster, 1 HP Pentair Challenger Pump, 36 SqFt (Purex Triton) DE Filter

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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    Final update for this topic. Know it's been a while, but it's taken a long time to get this resolved. Kind of long, but I though I would list the steps I went through to finally solve my issues.

    I tried all types of listening devices, and finally gave up on that due to a lack of results. I ended up just doing some old cut and capping to figure out where the water was going.

    A bit of background (think I may have listed this before). The pool was severly mistreated when we moved in. I was told the main drain had gotten plugged by a towel or something ( think drain was uncovered). The home and the pool had had some settling due to previous drilling (natural gas) in the area.

    Step 1 - plugged all returns and auto-fill holes in pool.
    Step 2 - dug around all plumbing from pump/filter station to the pool (where lines split up) and up to the pool wall under the deck (this was the area that had the most moisture in the ground).
    Step 3 - filled pool to normal fill line.

    This resulted in water gushing from the main drain pipe where it went into the pool wall (elbow). I guess they hadn't actually plugged the main drain. I guess when there was enough water pressure from the pool being filled completely, it would actually push water up and out of elbow. I thought this was my main issue, and had a retired pool leak guy I know come in and fix that elbow and pressure test main drain line. In fact, when he took off the elboe he found a very bleached set of goggles and weighted pool toys jammed in that elbow . Pressure test was good, so filled pool again.

    Repeated steps 1 -3.

    This resulted in water gushing out from the side of the wall near where the main drain elbow was broken (not from the main drain). The next possible issue was the auto-fill right next to that area. We broke open the deck in that spot and found the elbow into the auto-fill was broken as well. This was also a result of the settling I believe.

    Repeated steps 1-3 with no leak or water gushing.

    Turned on pump, and notice water coming from the same area. We also noticed that the water was coming from beyond where the auto-fill was at (we could see water gushing into that hole as well) so we drilled down and checked for moisture following the path we expected the return lines to be on till we got to the return on that same side, and the return after that just around the pool. There was no moisture after that second return so we broke open the deck at those two returns and again found the elbows into the returns were both broken.

    At this point my pool guy capped the return line from the filter and plugged all the returns to pressure test the returns. Test came out okay. Also pressure tested the skimmer lines just to make sure, and they were okay. We connected everything back together, and ran the pump. No Leaks!!!

    Due to a lack of funds, I had been dealing with this leak issue for just over a year I am so glad I am back to a normal running pool.

    A week later, and I have all my numbers looking good. Even added borates. The water is looking great.

    The pool plaster however does have some staining from people throwing pucks into the pool, and nails from a roof repair. These seem like small issues now, and I'll hit those bit by bit.

    Thanks for all the help and incite.
    11K Gal, Plaster, 1 HP Pentair Challenger Pump, 36 SqFt (Purex Triton) DE Filter

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Not sure of next step for leak?

    Thanks for filling us in on the results.

    Now get out there and
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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