My pool has a leak. I need an inexpensive solution

exile

New member
Mar 4, 2020
1
Southern Ontario
Two summers ago, my pool began showing signs of a leak. My pool company did a dive test prior to close and patched a few holes in the liner

I thought the issue was fixed but last summer, my pool continued to show signs of a leak. When I opened the pool in late June, the water level was VERY low (~1 foot deep in the shallow end). The weather was warm a few weeks prior so I attributed this to evaporation. However, when the water level continued to drop over July and August, I did a bucket test and it seemed to prove a leak as well. So I hired a pro to check the lines. Here were his conclusions:
  • The skimmer line is using black poly and has a leak
  • The return lines do not have a leak yet. However since all the lines are using black poly pipe and were likely installed at the same time the returns are likely to fail soon
  • The liner and main drain are not leaking (although I still have my doubts given the water level when it was opened)
  • The gasket at the skimmer has a small leak and should be replaced
His recommendation was to replace all the lines with "Tigerflex" pipe (I had to look up what he meant and I assume this is his preferred brand of Flexible PVC pipe). Now I'm uncomfortable because everywhere I read says to NOT use flexible PVC pipe for in-ground pools. He referred me to someone else who would actually do the repair. The reference agreed that if we're going to do digging, we might as well do it all at the same time rather than just the skimmer line. His quote was ~$3,500 (I don't actually know what kind of pipe he intends to use). Most of that cost is tied up in the digging.

I'm not happy about the cost and I hope to completely revamp the backyard in 5-10 years anyway so I don't want to spend money digging up the yard when I'll just have to do it again in a few years.


I'm comfortable working with PVC but I'm not experienced with digging. Since aesthetics is not important right now, and since the skimmer line is the issue right now, can I run a line myself from the pump above ground and just dig a hole right at the skimmer and connect it? Is this reasonable as a temporary solution for a few years? Could the pipes then be moved underground in the future? Or should I just do as suggested and replace all the buried lines?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
18,150
Northern NJ
Welcome to TFP.

Posting some pics of your pool and area aroudn the skimmer can let us see what you are dealing with.

No reason you can't do some above ground piping as you described. I would do any piping above ground or below ground with schedule 40 rigid PVC. Using flex PVC is just leaks waiting to happen.
 

1Sammy

In The Industry
Jul 20, 2017
294
Windsor, Ontario. Canada
A leak in the skimmer line can cover a LOT of things. First let me say there is nothing wrong with black poly and was the common pipe used years ago. If it is the heavy wall, red line, and not the white line it will work till the end of time so forget your returns for now. How did he prove that the skimmer / line was the source of the leak. IF that is the problem then the water will not drop below the bottom of the skimmer mouth UNLESS your main drain is feeding into the bottom of the skimmer and IF that is the case then the water will NOT drop below the bottom of the depth of the lowest part of the skimmer body. You can also plug the main drain IF it comes into your skimmer, then the water will just drop to the bottom of the skimmer mouth and stop IF the skimmer line to the pump has a leak. Usually that line is plugged over the winter as well so no water should be able to get into your poly to be able to leak. For there to be only one foot in the shallow end , hummmm, that water could not get out of the pool via the skimmer line, nor the return lines. It has to be in the liner or main drain. Main drain might have a relief valve that can leak, pipe to the skimmer or wherever that can leak, gaskets that can leak or a crack in the body . Dive and put plugs in the relief valve and line going to the surface. If that do not work and no holes in the liner can be found with an electronic sniffer, not a person looking, then replace the upper and lower gasket in the main drain.
AND yes you can do as you suggested but in order to prove that no leaking is in the skimmer line you will have to block it off "water tight" across the mouth and the main drain if it feeds the skimmer from below.
 
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TheRaven

Member
Jul 3, 2018
10
Fleetwood, PA
Yeah from your description it definitely doesn't sound like the skimmer or returns could possibly be the issue.

I had a leak issue last year and just went through process of elimination. Measure how much water you lose overnight, then starting taking things out of the equation. My water quickly dropped below the skimmer and kept going so that eliminated the skimmer instantly. Then it dropped below the returns and kept going so that eliminated the returns. I have no main drains so at that point it either had to be the liner or stair gasket. I did a thorough inspection of the stair gasket and couldn't see any reason to believe there was an issue so I started inspecting the liner. Two thorough inspections yielded nothing suspicious. It wasn't until one night I decided to try it with the pool light off, and mag lite in hand...I found a hole in the liner about the size of a dime all the way down in the deepest part of the deep end of course...it was in a crevice that had developed because the vermiculite bottom had cracked and shifted. Due to the bright sunlight and movement of the water during the day, I couldn't see it in my daytime inspections. But at night, without all that ambient light bouncing around, and dead calm water, it was clearly visible. Did an underwater patch job and that fixed it instantly.