I have a leak - Next Steps?

kchinger

Well-known member
Aug 20, 2017
186
Southeast PA
Finally got around to doing the bucket test, and I definitely have a leak. Looks like around 0.5 inches more than evaporation per 24 hours. So with a satellite estimate of the area, I come up with about 200 gallons per day.

I don't see any water around the pool, nothing obvious in the pool, pool house seems dry enough (certainly not hundreds of gallons a day in there, I'd notice I think).

Is the next step just to let it keep draining until it stops? I suspect it might be in the main drain, in which case I'll waste a ton of water to find out, and still won't really know where the leak is.

Is it time to call a professional? Is this a slow enough leak that it would be cheaper to just keep filling it and topping up the chemicals? The main annoyance is my salt and other stuff goes down more than it should.

I did a die test, but it was inconclusive. The light doesn't seem to be an issue, I tested the main drain and the returns, but it's probably too small of a leak to notice all the way out at the main drain itself or return itself, if it's far into the pipe.

I do get a small amount of air in the system, whenever I do the filter release it's a second of air before I get water, but it's a second of air regardless of how long it's been running it seems. No big bubbles in the pump or anything like that.
 

kchinger

Well-known member
Aug 20, 2017
186
Southeast PA
Partial. Last year I went a little lower than I plan to this year, below the returns and the unused pressure side cleaner. It seemed to stop losing water over the winter, but I'm not sure. I also have a mesh safety cover that lets water through, so it's hard to say if it was just getting refilled by rain and snow, I didn't pay close attention to the water level over the winter.

I do remember when I opened the pool I did get pressurized air back out of the main drain once I opened the valve, which would seem to say that the pipe held pressure all winter. So perhaps it's not there. I think this leak existed when I bought the house last fall, so it would have existed over the winter as well.
 

kchinger

Well-known member
Aug 20, 2017
186
Southeast PA
So I feel pretty confident that it was leaking over the winter too, because that would explain why it was a little lower than I remembered closing it at, and why all my chemicals were way more diluted than they should have been. It was draining and getting refilled by rain/snow. So that points pretty clearly to the main drain.

I haven't used the main drain for a few days, but it's still leaking, so that tells me it's in the main drain but below the waterline, which is bad. I swam down and removed both covers and don't see anything obvious, but I haven't tried the dye test yet with the covers off.

I have two number 10 rubber plugs, but they don't fit. What size would the ID be for the fitting right at the drain? Does the 1.5 go around the outside of the fitting at the drain or the inside? It's possible it isn't fitting because the opening is too close to the bottom of the drain cistern, but I can't tell for sure, and that part is probably 7 feet under so I can only stay 30 seconds at a time (not great holding my breath forever, plus I have to breath out so much to get down there, a snorkel would've helped instead of goggles).

Is there something else I can use to plug them? I don't mind just plugging the drains until I need them to drain the pool this fall, and then plugging them again for the winter. I also have a submersible pump I could use instead, so it's no huge loss to plug them, besides the loss of circulation.

Thanks.
 

Veccster

Bronze Supporter
Aug 30, 2016
357
Pittsburgh PA
We paid $100 for a scuba diver to come out and check ours. But we have vinyl and she had to check all ports.

I don't see why the dye test would be inconclusive - other than maybe not being able to stay down long enough to slowly drip some dye around it. Hold a weight so you are not stirring up the water by kicking and holding yourself down.
 

kchinger

Well-known member
Aug 20, 2017
186
Southeast PA
Yeah, I was pretty still (I can grip under the cover to hold myself down), but the covers were still on when I tested, so they're possibly a long way and a lot of surface area from the actual leak, so the suction is probably extraordinarily weak at the cover itself, since it's a relatively small leak.

I'll test again with the covers off now that I can get down to the actual pipes, I just haven't had time yet.
 

kchinger

Well-known member
Aug 20, 2017
186
Southeast PA
I was able to plug the two main drains with two #9 plugs, but still leaking. Next step is to go down with die again and check the two plugs in the bottom of the main drain pots, and then check the pressure relief valves around the floor, and then the light one more time.

After that I might have to get someone to come check the skimmer and return lines. At least those can be fixed, even though we'll probably have to tear up the decking some to do it.
 

kchinger

Well-known member
Aug 20, 2017
186
Southeast PA
Update - Took the dye down again, no leaks around the main drains even with the covers off and getting way down in there (they're sealed though). No leaks around the pressure relief valve things in the floor. Maybe I'll check the light one more time since I'm running out of ideas. Nope. Well, maybe I'll take the cover off so I can get closer in.

Yep, void between the niche and the pool wall. That's also the only decking that's cracked, likely from settling due to all the water running underneath.

Now I just need to figure out what to use to patch it and I can have it all straightened up tonight. I'll patch it, take the plugs out of the drain and test it for 24 hours with the bucket, but I'm hopeful this is the only leak (more than a few drips in the pool house anyway). Nice that it might turn out to be basically the easiest place to fix.
 

kchinger

Well-known member
Aug 20, 2017
186
Southeast PA
Put some a+b putty around the entire niche after chipping and cleaning out all the old stuff. It had been patched before but not well. The original seal was basically all gone.

Bucket test last night looked perfect. I'll take the plugs out when I get a chance and use the main drain again, but I think I'm probably all good.