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Thread: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

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    Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    In ground vinyl liner pool in Virginia Beach, VA, 3rd year with it. Age of the liner is unknown, though when we bought the house 3 years ago, it looked fairly newish.

    Past two winters we've had basically no water loss. This winter we've lost approx 2 1/2 feet. I've filled the pool back up for several hours on two days only to have it leak down again. I stopped as I figured I was throwing money away.

    So, the only two things we've done differently or are new this year:

    1. We have a mesh safety cover. Colleague at work has a similar setup and tosses in tons of plastic bottles to hold up the cover to help water roll off the cover when it rains, reducing the amount of contaminants that make it into the pool. We attempted something similar but didn't have nearly enough bottles so the cover was only partially held up for a few weeks before the water level lowered too much.

    2. We had a tree removed out back and after they finished I noticed a fist-sized hole in the mesh cover where I suspect they dropped a branch through (would have to be large and heavy enough to punch a hole in the safety cover). I can't tie the water level drop to the tree guys and I have no idea if there is a branch in the pool, but it's suspicious.

    Questions:

    1. Given the above items, could either/both be responsible for the greater water loss? Hoping somehow the bottles increased evaporation to such a degree that it dropped the water level far more than previous winters.

    2. If it's most likely a leak, should I open the pool now, clean it, and then have it fixed? Or should I just wait? I don't like the idea of running the filter for the next couple months without being able to swim - seems like a big waste of electricity.

    As always, you guys rock!
    23k - Vinyl IG - FNS 60 DE Filter - PAC-FAB Challenger 1HP Pump

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    As long as things are stable, i.e. it isn't draining down to the bottom, you can wait and deal with it latter.

    If it was a tree branch, it will be fairly obvious what happened when you open the pool. If a pool consistently leaks down to some specific depth, that means the leak is right near the waterline it drains down to.

    I doubt that the bottle thing could have anything to do with it.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    So the pool is down to just a few inches in the shallow end... I need to do something about it.

    I opened the light and did a dye test and could see no evidence of water leaking from there. It seems to still be leaking at a fairly slow rate, but still, it's leaking.

    I've talked to two leak detection folks and both have asked that I clean the pool first so that they are able to more easily find the leak. There is a layer of algae covering the entire pool, as happens every winter. I'm able to clean it just fine in the spring, but now that the water level is WELL below the skimmer, how on earth do I do it?

    One leak guy suggested I plug the skimmer and run the pump just from the main drain, but I think that's actually a return in the deep end, not a drain. I don't have a split or valve going into the pump which would normally indicate two drains:



    I tried running the pump for a minute with the skimmer plugged and the pump churned but no water was pumped.

    So... how do I clean this sucker without the skimmer?
    23k - Vinyl IG - FNS 60 DE Filter - PAC-FAB Challenger 1HP Pump

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    Often the floor drain is plumbed to a hole in the skimmer and then a 2nd pipe runs from the skimmer to the pump. Look under your skimmer basket and what do you see?

    A float diverter under the skimmer basket is used to adjust how much water is pulled from the floor and how much from the skimmer. Problem is these are not air tight, so they should not be used to isolate suction from the floor only if the water is below the skimmer ... it might work, but could end up pulling a lot of air into the pump.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle
    Often the floor drain is plumbed to a hole in the skimmer and then a 2nd pipe runs from the skimmer to the pump. Look under your skimmer basket and what do you see?

    A float diverter under the skimmer basket is used to adjust how much water is pulled from the floor and how much from the skimmer. Problem is these are not air tight, so they should not be used to isolate suction from the floor only if the water is below the skimmer ... it might work, but could end up pulling a lot of air into the pump.
    Aha! I see two holes in my skimmer. I plugged the main hole but there is a second hole with a plate attached to a screw which rotates around freely (for some reason).

    So what exactly does it do now? Looking back at my very first post http://www.troublefreepool.com/two-h...er-t30181.html here at TFP, Jason indicated that the main drain could be plumbed to that hole which would explain why I don't see two inlets into the pump - is that what you're saying?

    Is there something I can buy which would connect that second hole to the main hole in the skimmer basket so the pump can pull water through the main drain at the bottom of the pool? Like a tube or something?
    23k - Vinyl IG - FNS 60 DE Filter - PAC-FAB Challenger 1HP Pump

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    One of the holes runs to the pump and other goes to the floor. I am guessing the little plate is used to cover the pipe to the floor so that more suction will come from the skimmer, but that sounds different that the diverters I have seen.

    Can you post a picture of what you see?
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle
    One of the holes runs to the pump and other goes to the floor. I am guessing the little plate is used to cover the pipe to the floor so that more suction will come from the skimmer, but that sounds different that the diverters I have seen.

    Can you post a picture of what you see?
    Here ya go - and thanks!!!

    23k - Vinyl IG - FNS 60 DE Filter - PAC-FAB Challenger 1HP Pump

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    I use one of these, but it has a large o-ring and yours does not appear to have a place for it:


    But maybe yours is the kind where this design is used?


    The design you have allows you to limit the floor suction, but the float diverters above allow you to limit the skimmer suction ... subtle difference. With your current design it is not possible to make most of the suction come from the floor.

    Still none of these are really appropriate to 100% isolate the suction from the floor. A hose jammed in the skimmer pipe "might" seal tight enough, but you would have to check for air being drawn in.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle
    I use one of these, but it has a large o-ring and yours does not appear to have a place for it:


    But maybe yours is the kind where this design is used?


    The design you have allows you to limit the floor suction, but the float diverters above allow you to limit the skimmer suction ... subtle difference. With your current design it is not possible to make most of the suction come from the floor.

    Still none of these are really appropriate to 100% isolate the suction from the floor. A hose jammed in the skimmer pipe "might" seal tight enough, but you would have to check for air being drawn in.
    Can you tell me where you found that second type? I can't find one online anywhere.

    If I attempt to Macguyver something, will I need to plug anything along the pool wall? I thought I read somewhere that sometimes there is an equalizer pipe or something which may just suck in air if it isn't blocked - does that sound right?
    23k - Vinyl IG - FNS 60 DE Filter - PAC-FAB Challenger 1HP Pump

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    An equalizer line is only used when the floor is not plumbed to the skimmer. Instead the 2nd hole would be plumbed to the wall and the floor would be plumbed to the pad. The only way these "safety" features work to prevent air is if one of the float diverters in in place.

    Currently your setup would run dry as soon as the water level gets below the skimmer as there is nothing in place to force the suction to go to the floor.

    I have no idea where to find one ... or if it is necessarily the correct thing to use in your skimmer.

    Do you have a manufacturer/model number for your skimmer?
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    Given the screw holes you have in your skimmer, I do think that the twinkie might be what you should have if you want the diverter.

    Here are a couple links I found:
    http://www.shopping.com/hayward-valve-a ... 082gv/info
    http://www.1800pools.com/SP1082GV_Haywa ... embly.html
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    Update - so I purchased and installed the float diverter gadget as shown in Jason's links. It fit right on my skimmer no problem. But when I turn on the pump, I hear gurgling but don't get any water into the pump. I even tried brushing around the floor drain to make sure there was nothing clogging it.

    So then I put a hose in the skimmer to fill it up to make sure I had an airtight seal on that gadget, and the weirdest thing - the water I was pouring into the skimmer was draining out a hole in the side of the pool about 2 feet away. I have no idea how the water was even getting there? I mean, both holes were closed with that diverter gadget, so how was water getting to that side hole? And this wasn't a trickle, it was pouring out. I'm so confused.
    23k - Vinyl IG - FNS 60 DE Filter - PAC-FAB Challenger 1HP Pump

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    Well, the diverters valves are not typically air tight so if the water was well below the skimmer, I am not surprised it was not pulling water ...

    But, since you saw the water pour out of a hole in the pool, that means that the hole does not appear to be plumbed to the floor drains, but instead to the wall (an equalizer line). So with the diverter, if the water dropped below the skimmer, it should pull water through that hole in the wall. Is your water now lower than the hole in the wall?

    I am not exactly sure how that twinkie diverter works ... with the side knob and top slider.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    Yeah, water is well below that hole in the wall. So I guess all that diverter was doing was pulling air through those side holes then eh? Bummer.

    So what in the world is that thing in the bottom of my deep end?? If the floor drain isn't plumbed to the skimmer, and I don't see a split before the pump, could it be split underground and then comes in as one pipe into the pump? Or something else?

    Jason - thanks for all this help, truly above and beyond!

    (Incidentally, one of my favorite trips was driving to the top of Mount Lemmon - 60 degrees at the base, snow at the top! Love AZ)
    23k - Vinyl IG - FNS 60 DE Filter - PAC-FAB Challenger 1HP Pump

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Possible leak - Should I open the pool?

    This is a little odd. There have been some cases where the floor and skimmer are Tee'd together underground or sometimes right below the skimmer. I am not sure why they would do this though as you lose control of the suction.

    There is another possibility that for whatever reason the floor drain has been cut and capped somewhere underground.

    You could try running the hose down each of the skimmer holes (even try to pressurize it a bit with a rag) and see if you can see water coming up into the floor drain. Might plug the hole in the wall too and see if maybe that is the line that is connected to the floor. If so, you could leave the plug in the wall and get suction from the floor.

    All speculation .....

    The Mt. is nice, friend went up there a few months ago snowboarding in 2 feet of fresh powder!!!
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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