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Thread: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    Hello all - I'm hoping you can help me with a diagnosis on our hot tub leak. We've got an in-ground, gunite hot tub circa 1975, maybe 500 gallons. The hot tub has almost drained itself entirely in less than 3 days, with no pumps on. There is a drain in the bottom - could it be pulling water out even without the pumps (circulation and jets) off? There is exposed piping with little holes drilled in it (these release air bubbles when we have the equipment on. I thought it would drain to the level the leak is at, but it seems intent on completely draining itself.

    Attempting to attach a photo a few ways, have never done that before... it's lost almost all water since filling on Sunday afternoon. (that's the hose, draped across it).


    [img]
    hot tub leaking by MiaOKC, on Flickr[/img]

    Thanks for any insights you all can provide!
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    Is this your first time this this year filling it ?? Are you in an area where it freezes and if so was the spa winterized with antifreeze ?? I think you're right in believing that the leak is at the same level as the spa's water although until you get into it there is a chance it's getting siphoned.

    If no one has a better idea you might want to let it go empty or bail it out fully and tape up that bottom drain and them put a couple feet of water in it and see what happens. If the level doesn't drop you know it's that bottom line you have a problem with.
    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
    Solar Blanket, Well Water, Borax Added, TF-100 tester. ? too cold
    1979, 275gal Conway Emerald Spa P-100-2, ES-2 Spa Pack, bromine floater, indoor
    TF-100, Best test kit - TFTestkits.net
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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    Thanks for the response, kiss. This is the first time to fill the hot tub this year, but last year (our first with the house) we did have some odd problems with it. It had been winterized by the pool co, but we went on vacay and came home to find it totally empty. We chalked it up to a fluke, and when we opened, we filled it and it was fine and held water, but the pump was broken. Once a new motor had been installed mid-summer, we realized water seemed to drop whenever we ran the circ pump, so we ended up filling with a hose at the same time the circ pump ran. Needless to say, we barely used the hot tub. We did have a gas leak in our house that forced rerouting the entire gas line and re-running pipe to the heater at a cost of $1500 for just the heater, so I really want it to work, if you know what I mean!

    We winterized the hot tub pumps and sand filter last season ourselves, and the HT completely drained itself with no help from us, so we didn't add any antifreeze.

    This morning, even after a night of rain, we have about two inches of water left in the HT. Ugh. I need to research what siphoning is, but that sounds like it might be on the right track.
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    Does it freeze where you are ??
    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
    Solar Blanket, Well Water, Borax Added, TF-100 tester. ? too cold
    1979, 275gal Conway Emerald Spa P-100-2, ES-2 Spa Pack, bromine floater, indoor
    TF-100, Best test kit - TFTestkits.net
    Please help keep the lights on, become a TFP Supporter!

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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    Yes, we get freezes occasionally.
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    You need to use RV style antifreeze in the pipes you can't see when you shut it down in the winter. Those are the pipes that will freeze and split. Especially the bottom drain or return line. I don't have much experience with hot tubs but it sounds like the only way to find your problem is to follow the line that goes to the bottom of the spa. I keep going back and looking at that picture you posted and I keep coming back to that bottom line having some damage to it. Wish someone else would jump in and give their two cent worth.
    You could let it drain, tape up the bottom drain with duct tape or something similar and put some water in and see if it does or doesn't leak. If it doesn't leak down you know it's something in the bottom line. Sorry. I think you know where it's going and neither of us want to say it. Especially after the money you dropped on the improvements.
    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
    Solar Blanket, Well Water, Borax Added, TF-100 tester. ? too cold
    1979, 275gal Conway Emerald Spa P-100-2, ES-2 Spa Pack, bromine floater, indoor
    TF-100, Best test kit - TFTestkits.net
    Please help keep the lights on, become a TFP Supporter!

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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    Thanks for the info. Sometimes the truth REALLY hurts. I don't think our pool co added antifreeze, they blew out the lines, plugged them, and drained below the skimmers. That's not to say they did anything wrong, the seller was kind of sketchy about the HT and didn't have it filled when we had our pool inspection.
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    If it was blown out and plugged that should be good. I don't close our pool. I let a company blow it out and seal it up so I have someone to blame if it goes wrong

    The antifreeze is just in case something leaks. The company uses new plugs with new "O" rings and teflon tape on the threads along with using some antifreeze in the lines. Last thing you want is to have to dig a line up. But I'm in Wisconsin and it gets really cold so a little extra insurance is a good thing !!
    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
    Solar Blanket, Well Water, Borax Added, TF-100 tester. ? too cold
    1979, 275gal Conway Emerald Spa P-100-2, ES-2 Spa Pack, bromine floater, indoor
    TF-100, Best test kit - TFTestkits.net
    Please help keep the lights on, become a TFP Supporter!

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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    Does you pool and spa share the same pump ?? If so are you presently running your pool ??
    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
    Solar Blanket, Well Water, Borax Added, TF-100 tester. ? too cold
    1979, 275gal Conway Emerald Spa P-100-2, ES-2 Spa Pack, bromine floater, indoor
    TF-100, Best test kit - TFTestkits.net
    Please help keep the lights on, become a TFP Supporter!

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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    Separate pumps for pool and spa (actually, two pumps on the spa, one for jets and one for circulation). I'm not sure how they would have added any antifreeze to the main drain when they leave water in the pool and spa - wouldn't it just mix with the water through diffusion from the main drain?
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    You might not be in an area where it's not worth it to use antifreeze or that it wouldn't really be of any advantage. I'm in Wisconsin so you have to worry about everything freezing. On the pool they drop the level, blow the lines, pour in antifreeze and then plug the drains and jets. Now that you mention it on the pool there is so much water left in it they don't have to worry about that bottom drain as it is under water and full of water all winter. I forgot all about it. Being 10' to 11' below ground there isn't any chance of freezing.

    Reason I asked about the pumps is that someone else had a hot tub going down and it turns out his main valve was bad and the system ran the pool and spa off one pump. Not sure how that's supposed to work but his problem turned out to be that when the thought he was running the hot tub he was sending some water from it to the pool so he'd slowly drop a few inches over an hour or two.
    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
    Solar Blanket, Well Water, Borax Added, TF-100 tester. ? too cold
    1979, 275gal Conway Emerald Spa P-100-2, ES-2 Spa Pack, bromine floater, indoor
    TF-100, Best test kit - TFTestkits.net
    Please help keep the lights on, become a TFP Supporter!

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    MiaOKC's Avatar
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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    When we last had the pool repair guy out, the hot tub was still full of leaves from sitting empty all winter, so I couldn't test it. His suggestion was to clean and fill it, then see if water was leaking from the multiport valve on the sand filter - like it might be set to filter but water could be running out the waste pipe anyway. I did try that, but water didn't seem to come from the waste pipe when in filter mode. We got 10 inches of rain on Friday and the empty hot tub filled back up (with muddy water and runoff) so am going to wait for it to drain itself again and try covering the main drain as you suggested. There is no skimmer in the hot tub, just returns (one of them dead, no pressure, no suction from it so dunno what it's for) and the main drain and a light. Seems like it should be pretty straightforward, but it's been giving us fits. The returns are plumbed to pvc air pipes (?) in the deck surrounding the edge of the HT, and if you turn the pumps on, water leaps out of the air pipes in fits and starts - like a mini, crappy bellagio fountain. Several pool guys have been stumped when we have them come out. We've tried balancing the returns with different size "eyeball" fittings, but it seems we are destined for either firehose-force water or nothing, with very few stops in between. And that's if we can figure out where all the water is going and how to keep it in the hot tub. The main drains on our pool and hot tub were not plugged by the pool co when they closed the pool, maybe that's not something they do here in Oklahoma because it doesn't get as cold as WI.
    35,000 gallon gunite pool, semi-T-shaped, 29x15 shallow end and 16x22 deep end, built in the mid-1970s and renovated 2013-2014 // Polaris 9300 Sport robotic cleaner // Taylor K-2006 ... Learning as we go and so grateful to everyone here for their help! Our reno thread

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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    I just tried fix a leak in ag pool. I've looked for hole for 3 days and gave up. I put the fix a leak in about 4 hours ago. No more puddle. It says it works in hot tubs and spas too. Good luck!
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    15k, IG, gunnite, Pentair whisperflo, Pentair Clean & Clear Plus ccp520 Cartridge, Polaris valve actuator, Goldline valve actuator GVA 24,Aquarite Goldline electronic cell, remote control upgraded from Polaris Sol 1000 to a Jandy PDA Aqualink RS, spa attached with spillover, Built in 3/2004.

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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    '70s IG Vinyl 32K gal, Lazy L, Hayward SuperPump 1.5hp 120V, S240 Sand Filter W/DE
    Solar Blanket, Well Water, Borax Added, TF-100 tester. ? too cold
    1979, 275gal Conway Emerald Spa P-100-2, ES-2 Spa Pack, bromine floater, indoor
    TF-100, Best test kit - TFTestkits.net
    Please help keep the lights on, become a TFP Supporter!

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    Re: Major leak in-ground gunite hot tub

    yep, I was able to get it at my local pool store.
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    15k, IG, gunnite, Pentair whisperflo, Pentair Clean & Clear Plus ccp520 Cartridge, Polaris valve actuator, Goldline valve actuator GVA 24,Aquarite Goldline electronic cell, remote control upgraded from Polaris Sol 1000 to a Jandy PDA Aqualink RS, spa attached with spillover, Built in 3/2004.

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