Air Leak

jordangregory

Well-known member
Jul 12, 2010
145
Ok, so I think I have troubleshot an airleak in my system. I have checked everything above ground and have a feeling the leak must be somewhere below.
Is there a way to find out where the leak is without digging up all the pipes? If I must dig up the pipes, what should I replace the old stuff with? Right now I have found that it is black flexible pipe.
 

X-PertPool

TFP Expert
In The Industry
Jun 12, 2009
1,385
Exeter, PA
you can get the lines pressure tested to see if they hold pressure. From there they can use sound or helium detector to locate a break in the line. The black pipe is very strong and the weak point is the fittings used to connect the pieces together. I usually end up running new lines with flex pvc.
 

Bama Rambler

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 22, 2009
23,036
SouthWest Alabama
Pressure testing isn't too hard if you're handy about such things. A couple of expandable winter plugs and some pipe fittings a gauge and an air compressor is all you need. Plug one end of the pipe and rig up a way to pressurize it at the other end with the gauge in place and pressurize it to about 10psi and see if it holds overnight. I bet it won't take very long to find the leaking pipe.
 

jordangregory

Well-known member
Jul 12, 2010
145
Another thing I am wondering is "Do I need a pressure relief valve"? I don't have one on my Hayward Sand filter. Should I have one?
Also, you say I would have leaks at the places the underground pipes are connected together. Where exactly is this? I assumed it was just one long flexible pipe.
 

Bama Rambler

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 22, 2009
23,036
SouthWest Alabama
It would be great if the builders did it that way but normally they use fittings underground. With PVC that's fine because it's a molecular bond but with black poly it's a mechanical joint and subject to outside forces loosening them over time.
 

jordangregory

Well-known member
Jul 12, 2010
145
where can I expect to find fittings. If I have to dig this stuff up, it would be nice to only dig in spots where there is likely to be a leak, as you mentioned, at the joints where there are fittings.
Also, if I were to dig it all up, what would be the best thing to replace it with and how deep does it need to be under the ground.
 

Bama Rambler

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 22, 2009
23,036
SouthWest Alabama
I have no idea what the code is there so you need to call your building code folks.
As long as you winterize correctly you only have to worry about frost heave.
 

jordangregory

Well-known member
Jul 12, 2010
145
Ok,
So an updated on the air leak in my pipes.
I tried replacing and re-glueing all my work before the super pump. I thought for sure this would fix things since I dug under ground to look at all my pipe connections and they were fine.
Lo and behold, the leak is worse now!!!!
When taking apart all the old work, I found that the threaded joints going into the basket before the super pump and the threaded joints going into the sand filter had cocking on them.
I took that off and didn't use it for the new work. Now there are leaks at those points.
Is this normal to use cocking?
 

britinusa

Well-known member
May 9, 2010
151
Western Pennsylvania
I have not seen caulking being used as the norm, they should have used PTFE tape of pipe dope.
Stupid question but did you remove the pump basked lid and check the O Ring? then lube it and tighten it down?
 

jordangregory

Well-known member
Jul 12, 2010
145
I have redone all the pipes above ground, used teflon tape, etc. everything seems fine as long as I am just doing normal filtering. My problem now is when I switch to one intake. I have two intakes. One a skimmer, one on the side of the pool.
I noticed that if I use one intake, very small air leak. Just a few small bubbles all the time, but when I add a hose to the end of the intake, ie, to attach a brush with suction or a creepy crawly, tons of air draws in and I loose suction totally.
I know that means air is getting in somwhere, I jsut don't know where. Is there a common leak at the spot where the pool and the intake pipe connect underground?
 

JohnT

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Apr 4, 2007
9,475
SW Indiana
It is possible that only one intake can't supply enough water to your pump. If that is the case, the bubbles aren't a sign of an air leak, but rather that the water is being pumped out of the strainer basket faster than the water can flow thorugh the single pipe. Adding the hose adds more resistance to water flow, which makes the problem worse.
 

jordangregory

Well-known member
Jul 12, 2010
145
Update:
I finally found a way to stop the suction side leak I have had the last three years!!
I changed from a 1 HP Hayward Super Pump to a 0.75 HP Hayward Super Pump. No suction side air at all now!!!!
 

jordangregory

Well-known member
Jul 12, 2010
145
Update:
Changing from a 1HP to 0.75 HP pump did stop the air leak for a short while. It did come back later in 2013. I have just lived with it for the last 5 years.
Had to replace my liner this year and redid the pipes underground, still have the same air leak.
A contractor recommended that I had a few more lines to my pool when changing the liner, I only have two intakes and one output, he recommended at least 3 intakes and 2 outputs.
Is there a minimum amount of intakes and outputs needed for pump? I am using 1 1/2" pipes.
 

jordangregory

Well-known member
Jul 12, 2010
145
Update on my air leak

This all started back in 2010 with air leaking into my system. I could see air it in the pump basket and it really bothered me. There were always little bubbles shooting into the pool. If you got into the pool, they were on you. The water was never clear when looking around under water because of the tiny bubbles. My best guess at the time was that my 1 HP Hayward Super Pump was too powerful. Being attached to just two returns couldn't supply it enough water and it found a way to pull in air

In 2013 I switched to a 3/4" HP Hayward Super Pump thinking less power would eliminate the air leak. This kind of helped initially and the air leak came back not too long after switching (in retrospect, it may have come back after I added a winter safety cover). I lived with the air leak for the last 5 years.

Skip to present day early summer 2018 and I had to replace my vinyl liner. Had to redo all my fittings and was thinking maybe this would fix any air leak. Hoping the problem was at a connection to the black poly all along. This was just a pipe dream. The air leak persisted. But my pool liner guy said I should just pressurize my system and look for leaks. I could pour soapy water on the above ground stuff and look for bubbles.

I didn't think much about this. I have had an air leak for the last 5 years. Just learned to live with it. Then a few weeks ago my pump went bad Decided to go with a 1/2" HP Hayward Super Pump. Hoping this would get rid of my perpetual air leak. Maybe the 3/4" HP Super Pump was also too powerful?!?!. I had been using the 3/4" HP Super Pump for years with an air leak. Well, when my filter was clean after backwashing there was a leak, but when the pressure went up about 4 PSI in the filter, the leak would go away. Really hoped the 1/2" HP Super Pump would just have less suction and would fix my air leak problem. Switched out the pumps a week ago and the problem was worse!!!!

I hooked up and air compressor to my system as recommended by my pool liner guy, just like when I winterize the system. Plugged up all the intakes and output. Turned my sand filter to closed. Found air leaks in the two threaded pieces that screw into the super pump. I was so excited I found an air leak. I replicated the leak a few times to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Then after I had played around a while watching the leak I found, I had to go tell my wife so she could see. As I was walking to the house, I saw water and air bubbles shooting up out of the ground. It was right next to where I had put in a metal tube that holds in my winter safety cover. I dug down and the metal tube was directly inside of the pool return line (black poly) I probably installed that around 2012 or 2013.

So I went and fixed the black poly with a two sided barbed connector. I used a heat gun to get the black poly pretty warm, applied RectorSeal Tru-Blu pipe thread sealant (vibration resistant) to the barbed fitting and it went into place super easy. Double clamped the fitting in place for good measure.

Did some research on leak proofing my threaded PVC at the Super Pump and sand filter and found out I shouldn't be using teflon tape. Found LA-CO Plato-Joint Stik
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004MYFP8C

Both fixes worked like a dream and got rid of the air leak 100%. The first time in 8 years I have gotten rid of the air leak. I am so happy.

My take aways - use a pipe sealant when putting together threaded PVC AND be sure it is the correct pipe sealant. In my limited experience with PVC, the LA-CO Plasto-Joint Stick is awesome and teflon tape kind of sucks. For putting together barbed pieces for black poly my pool guy recommended a silicon sealant (not caulking). I used the RectorSeal Tru-Blu which isn't exactly that, but it is along similar lines. It lubricates, will stay flexible, and filled in any tiny imperfections that may have lead to a leak.