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Thread: Pool leak, slow and steady, what to do?

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    Pool leak, slow and steady, what to do?

    I need some ideas on repairing an in-ground, gunite shelled, vinyl lined pool. The pool was built around '93 or '94. We bought the home in 2005. I believe the liner was replaced in '99 or 2000. What I have is steady water loss down to the liner top seal that runs around the entire inside of the pool. Once down to that level, the water line is stable, except for expected evaporation.

    There are not any tell-tale wet or sunken soil areas. The equipment is sealed and working fine.

    My theory is that the gunite shell is soaking up the water through the almost non-existant grout lines in the tile. Is this plausible? The grout has either fallen out or been victimized by poor pool water chemical balance over the years.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
    Bill
    vinyl IG 18x36 HP pump sand filter

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    Re: Pool leak, slow and steady, what to do?

    Hi, Bill, welcome to the forum!

    My theory is that the gunite shell is soaking up the water through the almost non-existant grout lines in the tile. Is this plausible? The grout has either fallen out or been victimized by poor pool water chemical balance over the years.
    Well, if the grout is virtually missing, that could be the problem. However, I would more likely suspect a leak behind the top edge of the liner. My assumption is your liner is completely submersed when the pool water is at a normal level, is that correct?
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Pool leak, slow and steady, what to do?

    Hello Dave, thanks for getting back...to answer your question, yes, the edge of liner is under-water when the pool is up where it needs to be for proper skimmer operation. To be truthful, I had suspected that as an culprit too, but there are not indications of water bulging behind the liner, at least as far as I can tell.

    Bill
    vinyl IG 18x36 HP pump sand filter

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    Re: Pool leak, slow and steady, what to do?

    Bill, welcome to TFP!!

    I'm having a little trouble picturing where the liner track is... sounds like they kept the ceramic tile and put the track/ receiver right below that. Duraliegh has a similar set up (that he built himself) and may be able to help you more than I.

    However, I would say that there is no caulk or similar to seal above the track so that water is getting behind the liner - if the leaking stops when the water gets down to the liner, I'd say that the lines and the liner are in good shape

    Please let me know if I'm wrong on my assumption on the track location (pics would be great, we LOVE pics!). If Duraliegh hasn't seen and answered this by tomorrow pm, I'll ask him to give a look at this thread 8)

    (Holy Moly you 2 posted while I was typing this )
    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!)

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    Re: Pool leak, slow and steady, what to do?

    Ted, thanks for your interest and input. You described my situation exactly. The pool deck is pored aggregate concrete, cantileverd to the edge of the pool. Below that is what i call traditional tile, then the liner starts below that, where I would expect a plastered pool to begin. Dave has already contacted me on this thread.
    My next question is what to do? Repair-wise? Those options are really what I am trolling for here.

    Thanks,
    Bill
    vinyl IG 18x36 HP pump sand filter

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    Re: Pool leak, slow and steady, what to do?

    You have a very unusual situation.......just like mine. I would assume you have a rigid, plastic track anchored to the side of the pool wall and the beaded liner snaps into that....is that correct? How much water are you losing?
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Pool leak, slow and steady, what to do?

    To save on keystrokes and giving info that might not fit a given situation, we try to ask a clarifying question or 2 before giving advice on how to address a problem From what you've described, I'd say that there is water getting past the track/ receiver and would take a good look at that joint and use caulk to patch anywhere that isn't watertight. While the missing grout might cause a subtle leak, I doubt it would be as pronounced as what you describe. The tile could be regrouted with a cement based grout... but ... you would certainly end up with the 'extra' or the run off from sponging, going into the pool and clouding the water and raising the calcium level, so you might want to use caulk for the tile's grout too.

    You mentioned that you don't see anywhere that the escaping water is 'bulging' the liner. While I don't have a PHD in hydrology - let me explain a little of what's possibly going on. The water pressure from the ~ full pool is so strong that the rivulet of water leaking out can't possibly bulge the liner, the force of the water in the pool is so great that the escaping water is forced to wherever it's finding it's way out of the pool shell, without building up enough to show as a bulge in the liner. (I'll leave this as it is for now, if you want to continue on this line of speculation - we can take it to "The Deep End" and have folks that know sooo much more than I address this )

    I'm pretty sure we've correctly diagnosed the problem, if you need more help or info from us on this - all you have to do is 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!)

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    Re: Pool leak, slow and steady, what to do?

    Well, I like the trail of thoughts...it makes sense to me. I believe you are spot on with the theory of where the water goes once its past the ridgid liner track.

    We just had our first run of 90+ days, so I topped off the water level last night. Water loss is running about a 1/8"/day, maybe...I will keep a closer eye on it. Once it gets back down, what type of caulk is appropriate? Any brand's y'all would recommend?

    Thanks,
    Bill
    vinyl IG 18x36 HP pump sand filter

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    Re: Pool leak, slow and steady, what to do?

    Bill, 1/8" / day isn't a large amount and could possibly evaporation. However, since it stops or severely decreases once it's past the liner receiver, there's probably a gap.

    I would just use latex 'bathroom and kitchen' caulk. A clean dry surface is required for proper adhesion

    Enjoy the pool now that you're getting the weather to do so! When you're ready to apply the caulk, we'll still be here to offer advice
    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!)

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