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Thread: Leak help needed

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    Leak help needed

    Hi all,

    New to the forum, really love the expert answers I see here. We bought a house in north Texas with an inground gunite pool two years ago. We calculate it is about 20,000 gallons. What a learning curve! We've managed to learn to keep water crystal clear and healthy, have replaced both pumps, freeze switch, etc. Now have a leak we are trying hard to isolate. The pool is about 20+ years old, as near as we can tell. No idea who installed it, or how it was plumbed. There have always been broken tiles and a large crack at the top of the stairs, just under the coping - nowhere else in the pool. We haven't been able to afford the $8000-$10000 to re-plaster and repair a few more items. So, since the water level has always been below the crack, we've lived with it. We've always thought there might be a leak due to excessive water evaporation, although till I found the forum I didn't know how to measure and judge the water loss. The water is now starting to puddle up next to our patio, about 6'-8' from the edge of the stairs. In the morning, after the pump has been off all night, no water. Within 1-2 hours of the pump coming on, we see the water. So, pretty sure it is a pressure leak. I have no clue how a pool is built, so a couple of questions. 1. How close to the edge of the pool do the lines run? 2. Since there is only one discharge pipe from the pump, would it run in a continuous circuit, or be teed off somewhere? 3. Any fairly good methods of pinpointing the leak, if it is in the pressure pipe, within just a couple of feet, without ripping up the deck?

    I've attached several pictures (I hope) to show the layout of the pool, and the results of the leak(s). Again, I really appreciate this site, and all I've learned from it so far.

    [attachment=0:2tb9yih7]P9030002.JPG[/attachment:2tb9yih7]

    [attachment=1:2tb9yih7]P9030003.JPG[/attachment:2tb9yih7]

    Sorry to be so long on my first post. I welcome any feedback, suggestions, ideas, etc.
    Garry
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Garry P.
    DFW, TX area
    20K gal. IG Plaster w/spa, built between 1985-2000, Hayward 1HP pump & DE filter

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Leak help needed

    Welcome to TFP.

    Sorry if i missed it, but I don't see any equipment listed or shown in the pics?
    If you have a sand or DE filter with a backwash valve, the valve could be leaking water out when the pump is running. That's a pretty common place for a pressure leak that doesn't leak when the pump is off.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Leak help needed

    Welcome to TFP!

    Sounds like a good chance for a plumbing leak and maybe it will be easy to fix. Easier than a drain line or shell leak below. Maybe really easy like Bama says. Enjoy the forum, and keep us posted. By the way, not too long a post at all. Great intro.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: Leak help needed

    Thanks for the responses. I didn't include a pic of the equipment because it has all been replaced, it is probably 50-60 feet away, and there are no above ground leaks in that area. The backwash discharges on the opposite side of the house, and runs down the driveway. It is a DE filter. I am doing the pump-off, bucket test today, and can report the findings tonight. Last night I tried the dye-test at the skimmer closest to the leak area, and the dye just sat there, no suction at any point. I will try dye around the returns that are in that area tonight. I also thought I might plug the skimmer port going to the pump and see if the leaks stops. This particular skimmer is the only one connected to the main drain in the pool, so that would also be shut off. That would only allow one skimmer to pull from - does that put any undue stress on the pump? Don't want to burn anything out. I tried to post additional pics last night, but only two would load, and one repeated! not sure what I did wrong. Thanks again for any suggestions.
    Garry P.
    DFW, TX area
    20K gal. IG Plaster w/spa, built between 1985-2000, Hayward 1HP pump & DE filter

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    Re: Leak help needed

    Update: The bucket test with pump off revealed an approx. 1/4" drop to both the bucket and the pool. So, I do not believe the pool or any thru-holes are at fault. With that in mind, I have done no further dye testing. Since the pump was off for 24 hours, there is no water at the area where it normally appears. Completely dry. The pump has been turned back on now for about 1.5 hours, and we are starting to see moisture again. This leads me back to believing it is a cracked, or otherwise compromised pressure line for the returns. If there are other possibilities, I am open to hearing them. I've attached another couple pics to show the area of the deck that the leak passes under, and also one of the equipment - but again, this is located on the other end of the house, a good 50-60 feet away. And there are no above ground leaks there. Looking at the picture of the deck, how close to the pool wall would you "expect" the piping to be? Thanks again for any opinions.

    [attachment=1:1bzgwx4z]P9040001.JPG[/attachment:1bzgwx4z]

    [attachment=0:1bzgwx4z]P9040003.JPG[/attachment:1bzgwx4z]
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Garry P.
    DFW, TX area
    20K gal. IG Plaster w/spa, built between 1985-2000, Hayward 1HP pump & DE filter

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Leak help needed

    Sure sounds like a leaking pressure side pipe after your good investigative work. Does it only start to leak when you run in Pool mode? Or does it also leak if you just run in Spa mode?

    Where is the equipment relative to the pool in the pictures? Could the supply line be going to the pool under where you see the leak? Usually the pipes are pretty close to out side of the pool wall within a few feet, although still may be under the deck.

    I would suggest you start digging where it is wet and see if you can figure out the direction to the source of the water ... before you start breaking any concrete.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Leak help needed

    Thanks for the reply. Ahh, spa mode - that's a whole other can of worms. The suction valve on the right in the equipment picture is set to full-on pool. If we crack it, even just a little to the spa, the spa drains down pretty quickly. It hasn't emptied yet, but goes down about half way. The pressure side valve is kept at half way pool/spa. With the valves in this position, the water spills out of the spa via the spillway into the pool nicely. We've always assumed this was the goal, but I wonder.... I can try setting the pressure valve to full pool, spa off and see what happens. For some reason it had not occurred to me that the spa could be the culprit. After all it does kind of vibrate when the air jets are turned on. I'll try that tomorrow. As far as the equipment location, if you look at the very first picture you will see a gas grill at the far end of the pool. The equipment is located about 10 feet behind, and 20 feet to the left of that. My assumption on the supply line routing is that it goes from the equipment to the pool at the corner where the grill is located, then splits to go around the pool. But again, that's only an assumption, based on what my feeble mind thinks it should look like. I should mention that the area where the digging would occur also contains electric lines and a sprinkler system (which has been off during this time). So I've been hesitant to start without a good plan. One last thought, if a pressure line was cracked, more than just a little, would that not drain from the pool with the pump off? Yet, I lost no water with the pump off - so, could the pressure be opening up a bad glue joint maybe? Scratching my head. Anyway, Thanks again!
    Garry P.
    DFW, TX area
    20K gal. IG Plaster w/spa, built between 1985-2000, Hayward 1HP pump & DE filter

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Leak help needed

    For Spa Mode you should put the return valve on full spa and the change the suction valve to full spa ... it should then only recirculate in the spa.

    I would suggest trying full pool and full spa mode and see when it is leaking ... at least then you know which system of pipes has the problem ... although the solution is still the same.

    If the pipe is just cracked, the leak is going to be a lot slower when the pump is off vs. when it is on. How long did you do the bucket test? Might just be very slow with the pump off.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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  9. Back To Top    #9

    Re: Leak help needed

    Good idea. I had set the pressure to full spa for in the morning, but hadn't considered the suction side. If my memory serves me right, seems like every time we move the suction away from full pool, more to the spa, the pressure jumps in the filter, probably about 6-10 psi. Any clue there? We've never left it that way for very long because of the higher pressure. Thanks jblizzle for all your insights.
    Garry P.
    DFW, TX area
    20K gal. IG Plaster w/spa, built between 1985-2000, Hayward 1HP pump & DE filter

  10. Back To Top    #10

    Re: Leak help needed

    forgot to mention, we did the bucket test for a full 24 hours. High during the day was around 98 degrees.
    Garry P.
    DFW, TX area
    20K gal. IG Plaster w/spa, built between 1985-2000, Hayward 1HP pump & DE filter

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Leak help needed

    Now that I've put the pieces of the puzzle together, I can see where they may have ran the plumbing toward the spa first and then around the pool. Which would put the plumbing right through the area you're seeing water. If you don't want to start digging up the ground, you could call a leak detection company and tell them you have it narrowed down and just want them to pin point it. I would guess that it's a glue joint that's leaking as well.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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  12. Back To Top    #12
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Leak help needed

    It is normal for the pressure to be higher in spa mode due to the smaller jets outlets. Nothing to worry about.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Leak help needed

    You didn't say exactly where you are, but American Leak Detection does good work in Dallas, if you end up going that way.
    Built in 1957 44,000 gallon in-ground, Wet Edge Primera Stone in Sky Blue, Intelliflo VF Pump, 600 lb. Pentair Triton II TR-100 Sand Filter, CircuPool RG 60 Plus SWG, TF-100 test kit
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    Re: Leak help needed

    Actually, we have contacted ALD out of Ft. Worth, but their quote just to come out made me want to exhaust all of my capabilities first. So, did more testing today - my wife that is - I was at work. We first ran spa only, both returns and suction - no leak after roughly four hours (twice as long as usual). Then she put returns to pool, but forgot to switch the suction. So in just a short time, the spa was down to the light. That's when she realized her mistake, but also saw bubbles coming out of the light (in the spa). This is a new development. She then put the suction to the pool, so it ran pool only until I got home at 6:30. again, no water leak detected. We drained the spa completely, and shut off all power. The light was crooked in the wall, and seemed loose on the high side, so I pulled it. Inside is corroded and full of mud. Worse yet, there is a 1/4" hole next to the can with water continually running out, back into the spa. Again, I've attached pics (hope it's ok to add so many pics here). In roughly 1-1/2 hours it refilled the spa bottom to about 4" depth, and still flowing. I know nothing about how these lights are installed, so here goes. Is the watertight can placed inside another can where the electrical connections are made? There is a screw at the back of the can that makes me think this. The light has "American Products" on the lens, but no other marking. Could the pressure of the spa running with no suction (the normal way we've been running) be forcing water through either the waterproof can, or this little hole, and now with no pressure is back-flowing? Another clue may be the fact that where the water appears on top of the ground is right where all the electrical comes out of the ground for the pool light switches. I did have to repair a rusted out conduit in that area the first summer we were here. Could the water be forcing it's way through the conduit until it finds another rust hole?

    [attachment=2:17z14rov]P9050002.JPG[/attachment:17z14rov]

    In the first pic, the red arrow points to the hole where the water is coming out. The green box is the broken hook, where the light lens is supposed to catch. I guess this is why it was crooked.

    [attachment=0:17z14rov]P9050005.JPG[/attachment:17z14rov]

    In the second picture, you can see the ripples in the water from the back-flow. It is about 2" deep at this point - 30 minutes in. Again, I appreciate any thoughts on this new development. We plan on having a pool guy out tomorrow for an estimate, but does any of my thoughts on this seem right?
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    Garry P.
    DFW, TX area
    20K gal. IG Plaster w/spa, built between 1985-2000, Hayward 1HP pump & DE filter

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Leak help needed

    That niche should be completely sealed. It should not leak water either in or out. It's also sealed to the conduit and the conduit will fill with water up to the water level in the spa. when you replace the niche you'll probably replace the conduit too, but if you don't, you need to check it well to make sure it's not leaking underground somewhere.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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  16. Back To Top    #16

    Re: Leak help needed

    Thanks Bama - that was pretty much what I thought. Really sorry to hear about the conduit though - that runs under about 8' of deck before it emerges. Now it's a waiting game to see what the pool company says about replacement costs - I may have to learn a new trade!
    Garry P.
    DFW, TX area
    20K gal. IG Plaster w/spa, built between 1985-2000, Hayward 1HP pump & DE filter

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    Re: Leak help needed

    Well, pool company came out and will charge $450.00 to repair completely - about the same as what ALD wanted just to find the leak. So, with a little help from y'all - my new best friends - and a little legwork, looks like I've saved half! Thanks again for all the responses, support, and great suggestions.
    Garry P.
    DFW, TX area
    20K gal. IG Plaster w/spa, built between 1985-2000, Hayward 1HP pump & DE filter

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Leak help needed

    If the leak is the light niche, I do not understand why you only see water when the pump is running. Not convinced you found the only problem.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: Leak help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by poolat104
    Well, pool company came out and will charge $450.00 to repair completely - about the same as what ALD wanted just to find the leak. So, with a little help from y'all - my new best friends - and a little legwork, looks like I've saved half! Thanks again for all the responses, support, and great suggestions.
    FYI, when ALD came out to find my leak, they fixed it as part of the price. YMMV.
    Built in 1957 44,000 gallon in-ground, Wet Edge Primera Stone in Sky Blue, Intelliflo VF Pump, 600 lb. Pentair Triton II TR-100 Sand Filter, CircuPool RG 60 Plus SWG, TF-100 test kit
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  20. Back To Top    #20

    Re: Leak help needed

    To jblizzle's response - I also had that concern, but when we ran the spa only, then pool only tests, we did not get any leak at either time. It's only when we have pool suction and pool/spa returns going that the leak appears. That puzzles me, but I hafta fix one at a time, and test again. AND...hope for the best.

    To RobbieH's response - ALD made no mention of including the repair when we talked to them. Guess I should have been more inquiring. I'll know next time. Thanks for the info from everyone. I'll post again when the repair is done and we've been able to test/verify the results. I am fast learning that what I don't know about pools could fill one!
    Garry P.
    DFW, TX area
    20K gal. IG Plaster w/spa, built between 1985-2000, Hayward 1HP pump & DE filter

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