Multiple leaks after Texas freeze

Tom in Texas

Member
Jun 14, 2016
5
Plano, Texas
My pool, pump, filter, et al was working quite well going into this past winter. Then, in what some are calling the worst freeze in this area (Dallas suburbs) in over 30 years, we got down to -2 degrees F one night. I kept my pool running most of the time, but we also kept losing power so I was going out every hour or so to the shed where my equipment is to pour hot water into the pump basket to try to prevent freezing. I thought it worked at first, but a couple days after it warmed up, 3 problems emerged, roughly at the same time.

1) The water level started dropping, whether the pump was on or not. I let it drop for several days until it seemed to level off at about the TOP of the returns (seems like if one of those pipes cracked, the water level would go down further?) Whenever I fill it back up, it goes back down to around that level.
2) I have a suction side air leak that I can't seem to locate. I've read the articles and checked everything possible above ground with no luck. I have a valve that isolates the main drain from the lone skimmer box, and the air leak is much worse when I am pulling from the main drain, but still quite noticeable when pulling from the skimmer.
3) One corner of my rectangular pool is sinking. It's about 1.25" lower than the rest of the pool. I can tell because the water level compared to the tile is 1.25" closer in that corner than the other 3 corners.

So, I'm thinking that a crack/leak in the line from the skimmer box formed in the freeze. I've heard that those lines will continue to leak when the pumps are off. The water coming out of the leak eroded enough dirt around the leak to form an underground cavity and enough to cause the corner of the pool to sink. Could enough air get that far underground to be causing my suction side air leak also? Then the sinking pool must've somehow damaged the pipe from the main drain and the same thing happened there (but that's more than 10' underground, so could air make it through this dense Texas black clay to feed the suction air leak on the main drain?)

I've gotten an engineer to quote $10k to dig under the pool and install enough concrete and steel piers to "lift" the pool back into place. Is that reasonable? And I guess we could try to repair the skimmer and main pipes once they've dug all the way down there, assuming I can find the leaks then. So, am I chasing the wrong solutions? Are there steps I should take before committing $10k plus the cost to repair pipes? Sorry this is so long! Any thoughts would be appreciated!
 
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HermanTX

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May 20, 2020
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I felt really bad as I was reading this post. That Valentines Freeze affected millions in so many different ways.
Your logic and findings to date seems reasonable especially on the skimmer and sloping corner. Air leaks can be really difficult to find at times. Have you considered hiring a leak detection service? They may have some ideas once they see the whole situation.
 

imrodee

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Jun 23, 2012
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Sorry Tom, we're in the area and "so far" have only had pipes burst above ground and equipment expand and leak. Try to call/email your homeowner's insurance company to see if they can help out with some of those expenses. Our policy covers our pool, but our deductible is 1%. Your repairs seem like they could be pretty expensive. Document with video and pics. Good luck!
 

Tom in Texas

Member
Jun 14, 2016
5
Plano, Texas
I felt really bad as I was reading this post. That Valentines Freeze affected millions in so many different ways.
Your logic and findings to date seems reasonable especially on the skimmer and sloping corner. Air leaks can be really difficult to find at times. Have you considered hiring a leak detection service? They may have some ideas once they see the whole situation.
Thanks Herman. The leak detection services that I've called charge around $550 just to come out and diagnose the problem (locate the leaks). I'd be willing to do that, but if I'm going to have to have a lot of digging done, and "lifting" that corner of the pool, I'll likely either find the leaks during that process, or create new leaks with all that digging, so I figured I'd pay for the leak service after the lifting. I'm open, though, to doing it now if there's a reason to do it first.
 

Tom in Texas

Member
Jun 14, 2016
5
Plano, Texas
Sorry Tom, we're in the area and "so far" have only had pipes burst above ground and equipment expand and leak. Try to call/email your homeowner's insurance company to see if they can help out with some of those expenses. Our policy covers our pool, but our deductible is 1%. Your repairs seem like they could be pretty expensive. Document with video and pics. Good luck!
Good idea with the insurance. Thanks Helen!
 

HermanTX

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May 20, 2020
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Katy TX
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I'll likely either find the leaks during that process, or create new leaks with all that digging, so I figured I'd pay for the leak service after the lifting. I'm open, though, to doing it now if there's a reason to do it first.
It is not an easier decision. On one perspective, I would like to know where the leak is now because you can say that is place I really need to watch. If you do not do it now and just do the repairs, you may find it (that probability is most likely above 50%) and if you put it all back together and still have a leak, then you may have to dig in another place or go back where you were doing the repairs based on any findings. Sorry that I cannot be more precise but hope this gives you some things to consider.
If you do call out the leak inspection company now, you may ask if they will give you a discount if they will come out again after repairs to confirm no leaks. I know a someone that does house inspections and will do a follow up review after repairs at a discounted charge - just a thought for you to consider.
 

Tom in Texas

Member
Jun 14, 2016
5
Plano, Texas
It is not an easier decision. On one perspective, I would like to know where the leak is now because you can say that is place I really need to watch. If you do not do it now and just do the repairs, you may find it (that probability is most likely above 50%) and if you put it all back together and still have a leak, then you may have to dig in another place or go back where you were doing the repairs based on any findings. Sorry that I cannot be more precise but hope this gives you some things to consider.
If you do call out the leak inspection company now, you may ask if they will give you a discount if they will come out again after repairs to confirm no leaks. I know a someone that does house inspections and will do a follow up review after repairs at a discounted charge - just a thought for you to consider.
Good stuff Herman, thanks. I'm now thinking that I'll get the leak detection done first. The pool seems to have stopped sinking, maybe because I'm no longer leaking hundreds of gallons of water into the ground. If I can find and fix the leak(s), maybe I can live with the slight 1.25" variation if I know that the sinking and leaking have stopped.
 

imrodee

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Jun 23, 2012
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Waxahachie, TX
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I would get a licenced plumber to do the test, as he might want to do a hydrostatic test as well. Most home inspectors I know pretty much write a report saying "Yes, you have a leak, I would advise you to get a licenced plumber to inspect it." or "Yes, your HVAC system isn't working properly, you might want to get a licenced HVAC guy to look at it.' Same with the roof, same with the electrical... You already know you have a problem. A good pool builder/troubleshooter that could run the test would be ideal. Might have better luck with your insurance company showing the credentials of your troubleshooter. Good luck Tom!