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Thread: return line repair

  1. #1
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    return line repair

    I have an 18x40 inground vinyl pool with 2 of 3 return lines leaking. The leaks are bad - you can watch the water go down in the lines when filled by the pump and plugged in the pool. There are no visible signs of the leak - ground is dry and liner is in place around returns. Each return has its own line. The visible lines are PVC.

    I was thinking of doing some digging to see if I can locate the problem areas and would appreciate any advice. I thought I would start by digging down by the pump and expect the 'elbow' where it turns to the pool. If nothing there I would try digging by the pool to inspect the joint at pool entry and any joints there. This one I am a little worried about - don't want to cause more damage. The pool deck is concrete that extends about 24" from the pool lip. Any issues with digging under the deck?

  2. #2
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    Re: return line repair

    Hey,

    Welcome to the forum. Can you supply more info as to how you know they are leaking? The "watch the water go down in the lines" has got me confused....sorry to be so dense.
    Dave S.
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    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  3. #3
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    Re: return line repair

    Looks like a great sight - I've got it booked marked now!

    I had the pool builder come out yesterday to pressure test the lines. They plugged the lines at pool entry and disconnected at the pump. Then just filling them up at the pump with water from the hose you can watch the water go down. They pressure tested with water at ~10psi and it dropped to 0 almost immediately.

  4. #4
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    Re: return line repair

    Ouch! That's pretty definitive. Very little doubrt as to where the leak is.

    I thought I would start by digging down by the pump and expect the 'elbow' where it turns to the pool.

    From the quote, it sounds like you need to find it. From your second post, it sounds like it's PB's job to find it. Which one?
    Dave S.
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    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

  5. #5
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    Re: return line repair

    Yup - no doubt where the leaks are.

    The pool is about 8yrs old so either I find/fix or higher someone to do it. The PB gave me a $1500 estimate to run two new lines. With a cost like that I thought I might spend a few hours seeing if there was something 'reasonable' I could do.

    Figuring that the most likely places of failure are at joints I thought digging down by the pump to see the first turn toward the pool is low risk and just involves manual labor. I'm also thinking the connections at the pool are likely candidates but am worried about digging next to the pool and under the cement decking. I'd hate to explain to my wife why the bill doubled because (as I can hear it now) "You thought you could play Bob Villa for a few hours and wrecked our pool?". Assuming the lines make a run from the pump to the pool and then around the pool sides the best I can probably do is look at a few key spots around the pump and at the pool.

  6. #6
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    Re: return line repair

    dgrudus, welcome to TFP!!

    The connections at the pump end and the pool end are the most probable to be the source. A little shovel work at the equipment pad could well save you $$. Once you dig down there tell me a little more about the underground plumbing (what kind of pipe- and I'll try to give a little more help on what might be going on
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    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

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

  7. #7
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    Re: return line repair

    I appreciate all the help. I will post what I find – hopefully I can do some digging in the next day or so.

  8. #8
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    Re: return line repair

    I have a return leak right at the pool (IG). Found it by pressure testing and actually heard the water/air "burping" right under the concrete. It cost be over $200 to rent a concrete saw and chipper - hard work but relatively easy to do. Right now, I have the leak temporarily sealed and the hole covered with plywood. I probably won't do the final fix until fall when I can lower the water to pull the liner (I need to replace the wall fitting).

    Anyway, the moral of my story might be that 1500 isn't so bad considering equipment rental and your time and energy. But I agree, dig at the pad first. Good luck, leaks are a REAL PAIN!!
    20 x 40 vinyl IG. SWG. Solar. Ikeric VS pump.

  9. #9
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    Re: return line repair

    Finally got to diggin at the pad. There is about 18" of rigid PVC below ground connected to flex PVC with a glued elbow. The flex makes a run to the pool. I exposed the entire elbow and a few inches of the run, turned the returns back on and saw no signs of a leak - ugh. With the amount of water loss I think a leak would have been visible.

  10. #10
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    Re: return line repair

    In my last pool I had a leak at a wall fitting. I dug a tunnel under the concrete deck and was able to crawl in and repair the pipe. It was a very cheap and effective repair, but it was not fun. I am not usually claustrophobic but I felt like I was buried alive. It wouldn't have been so bad but it was at the deep end where the deck was wider to accommodate a diving board. I did have help on hand to pull me out by my feet if I stopped wiggling for some reason, such as pipe cement overdose. It was my first season with a new-to-me but older pool, and I learned a lot of lessons the hard way, like why you don't drain the water out of a vinyl pool. Where there's a will, there's a way, but in hindsight some ideas don't seem all that smart...
    Currrent pool under construction: DIY Kafko steel/vinyl IG 26kgal 20x40 Kidney, sand filter, Triac spillover spa, Aqua Logic SWG
    Previous pool: IG vinyl 20x40 rectangle. Made all the mistakes - now reformed (mostly)

  11. #11
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    Re: return line repair

    Ok now that I know you have flex pipe let me give you some news which could be perceived as either good or bad Termites will chew pin holes in flex pipe On the bright side, this means that the leak might not be under the deck - on the down side, this means that you either have termites in your yard or that the same thing might happen again Then again, maybe a rock just punctured the flex or one of the fittings came unglued.

    What we do when we pressure test and find that the pipe isn't holding water is to adjust the flow of water to the line so that the pressure holds ~ constant, then start looking for obvious wet spots in the yard between the pump and the pool. If you can get a little water leaking out of the problem area, you can track it down with a shovel - you'll know your close when you can see the water flowing as you dig (as long as you've already done that much digging, make sure you've found all the leaks before refilling the trench!!) If you want a little help on 'home rigging' a pressure tester, let me know and I'll tell you how we make ours.
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    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

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

  12. #12
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    Re: return line repair

    A home rigging pressure test description would be great. We do have termites in the yard. Unfortunately it is a common occurrence in the sandy soil of southern Jersey. One of the return lines is about 15' from the pad. Not too bad to dig up the line to the deck and look for problem spots. Maybe I'll get lucky and avoid the claustrophobia feeling.

    The pool seems to be holding its own on one return line. Any issues keeping it that way for a little while longer?

  13. #13
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    Re: return line repair

    Is there any common preventive precaution that should be taken against termite damage when burying new flex pipe? I was planning to use about 400 feet of it to plumb my new pool and I don't want to think about ever needing to dig it up again.
    Currrent pool under construction: DIY Kafko steel/vinyl IG 26kgal 20x40 Kidney, sand filter, Triac spillover spa, Aqua Logic SWG
    Previous pool: IG vinyl 20x40 rectangle. Made all the mistakes - now reformed (mostly)

  14. #14
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    Re: return line repair

    The pool seems to be holding its own on one return line. Any issues keeping it that way for a little while longer?
    If it's working fine for now, there's no problem with running the pool this way for a spell. I'll work up the info on the 'homebrew' pressure tester in the next couple of days - as long as things are going well with the pool, I'm gonna wait until this weekend so I can devote enough time to it so you'll be able to get all you need in one trip to the hardware store.

    s there any common preventive precaution that should be taken against termite damage when burying new flex pipe? I was planning to use about 400 feet of it to plumb my new pool and I don't want to think about ever needing to dig it up again.
    I can't think of anything at the moment, but I'll let the thought percolate in my brainpan for a couple of days and respond when I give the info on pressure rigs.
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    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

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

  15. #15
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    Re: return line repair

    Sorry I didn't get to this this weekend as I said I would (DW was out of town and my friends thought I needed a little rescuing [someplace where the beers are cold and the women dance for $ ] )

    The basics of the pressure rig are to make a watertight tube to attach to the individual lines of the plumbing system (return, skimmer, etc) and be able to control the amount of water you pour into any given line by use of a pressure gauge on the tube and a valve on it while keeping the ends watertight with plugs.

    Since most inlets/ outlets are 1.5" a male adapter of that size is good to have on one end of it. Then you need a good! valve on the pipe which then gets reduced down to accept a garden hose (3/4" NPT threads). Between the 1.5" MA and the valve you need to have a pressure gauge - we 'tap' ours in (as in tap and die) but I'm pretty sure they make reducers that you can bush down to a female adapter that will accept the gauge. I keep the 'main part/ the hose connector, gauge and 1.5" MA < 1' long so that there is no problem getting the hose end on when using it on a return - then I have a 2' 1.5" pipe with a FA and a MA to act as an extension so I can do the skimmer, using the same rig Sometimes you need a 2" -> 1.5" threaded adapter to do some of them that have a 2" threaded opening.

    It's kind-o hard for me to explain every part you may need not having seen your pool and the plumbing connections, but if you look at what you'll have to hook into, you can figure out which adapters you'll need to test your pool. If you've any questions on what you'll need for your pool set up, just ask and I'll help.

    Catcher, on contemplation, Terminex comes to mind - have them treat the ground for termites. The only other thing I've been able to think of is pouring concrete around the pipes, the little *******s don't eat through that!!

    Sorry for the delay in responding- if you need more info from me, never hesitate to ask!!
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    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

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

  16. #16
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    Re: return line repair

    Finally got to do some digging and sure enough it is termites. A couple pin size holes in each line about 4 feet from the pad. Hopefully these are the only ones - I dug all the way to the pool decking and the last 4 feet are good. Plan is to splice in new line.

  17. #17
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    Re: return line repair

    Glad you found and were able to fix the problem!!

    I would have the yard treated for termites ASAP!!
    Luv& Luk
    -Ted

    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

    POOL SCHOOL, TF Testkits, Jason's Pool Calculator, CYA vs. cl chart, (Just a few DARNED handy links!)

  18. #18
    Senior Member Rockcrawler's Avatar
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    Re: return line repair

    It might be more work now, and I dont know how far between the pool and filter pad is?, but I would go ahead and leave the flex pipe alone and run rigid PVC pipe, and yeah I would also treat the yard because of the house, but you would never again have to worry about you pool plumbing
    13,000 IG Plaster, 2hp whisperflo pump, 48 sq in pentair DE Filter, 1 skimmer, 2 eyeball outlets, 200 sq ft solar panels on second story, Auto Pilot SWG-36, Polaris ATV Cleaner

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