Pool Leak During Vacation - Pump Ran Dry for Several Hours a Day

coolviper777

Member
Jul 2, 2020
6
Pittsburgh, PA
TL;DR
Heavy brick fell into pool shallow end the day I departed on 9 day vacation, causing unnoticed small leak in bottom of pool. Programmed pump ran 12pm-6pm everyday. Came back from vaca today, Water was 8 inches below skimmer, and moderately cloudy. Adding water from garden hose since 4:30pm today. FC & CC 0, CYA below 20, Added 3 Gallons 10% LC, and seven 3" Trichlor puck floater for good measure. What's the worst case scenario here? Is my pump damaged from running dry for prob 4 days (6 hours per day)? Also, would small leak (prob 400 - 600 gallons a day) cause issues to ground under pool?

More details:
Just returned from a 9 day vacation. Prior to vacation I put on a pump timer programmed for 12pm - 6pm). Morning of departure, I moved the solar cover back and adjusted FC to 6ppm. However, of pulling back the solar cover a bit, a brick I had holding the solar cover above the skimmer fell into the shallow end. (I know, I know, that was stupid). I removed it and examined the area, and except for a 2 inch wide radius shallow depression, I didn't see any damage to the vinyl liner. However, when I came back today, I examined the area again, and found a small tear in the bottom of the pool.

FF to today. Got home, and immediately could see the water level was far lower than I expected, being approx 8 inches below the skimmer. Thought it may have been evaporation, but I did have a solar cover on. Water is moderately cloudy, so I added 3 gallon of 10% liquid chlorine to SLAM (at least get as close as possible to 10ppm). After adding 2 gallons of 10% LC, and waiting about an hour, FC test gave me approx FC 2. Also approx CC of 2. Prior to adding LC, both FC and CC were 0. Since my CYA is below 20 from TF100 kit, I threw in a floater with seven 3" trichlor pucks to keep chlorine level going and add CYA. Began adding water from garden hose since 4:30pm, hopefully will be over skimmer soon, so I can run the pump. I found the small liner tear after I decided to examine more closely the indented area from the brick fall. Since I didn't have a vinyl pach kit, I put a plastic freezer bag flat over it, and put a small weight over it to keep it in place to help stem the flow of water until tomorrow.

Given a 36,000 gallon pool, with a 20'x40' size, I calculated volume of water lost was approx 4,500 Gallons, but perhaps could be as high as 6,000 Gallons over 9 days. (20'x40'x.75' x 7.5 (gals per cubic foot).

Pump stills seems to pump, but when I tried to vacuum, it had very low flow. I am NOT seeing any leaks around the pump, but I am concerned that it ran for probably 4 days (6 hours a day) dry or close to dry). I am hoping that once the water is over the skimmer, the pump will work properly.

What's the worst case scenario here? Is my pump damaged from running dry for prob 4 days (6 hours per day)? Also, would small leak (prob 400 - 600 gallons a day) cause issues to ground under pool?
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
20,287
Northern NJ
What model pump do you have?

No telling if your pump seals were damaged from overheating while running dry. Just run your pump and keep an eye on it for leaks. You may be ok with it running just 6 hours a day.

Ground under your pool should be fine.
 

JohnT

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Apr 4, 2007
9,862
SW Indiana
Worst case the pump housing and/or impeller will need to be replaced.

As to the leak, it’s hard to say. Because the weight of the water holds the soil and base in place, you might not have problems. My neighbor’s wife dropped a pole for a plant hanger from the deck into their pool. It left a small divot where the water leaked. He was able to push coarse sand through the hole and get the floor flat.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,119
Central California
After you get the leak/pump sorted out...

Consider putting an internet cam on the pool. Full range of prices and qualities ($50 and up). I can watch my pool while away, and check on water level, critters trapped in the pool, see if the vac is running OK, or spot any algae should it ever occur, etc. It's pretty cheap peace of mind. For a bit more, you can get a pan-tilt-zoom model. I can zoom in to inspect my pool's edge tile, check the clarity of the water, look around my yard, check windows and doors, make sure my pool gates are shut and locked. I use that feature a lot while home, so I don't have to go outside in my jammies, in the cold, to check the gates!
 
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coolviper777

Member
Jul 2, 2020
6
Pittsburgh, PA
After you get the leak/pump sorted out...

Consider putting an internet cam on the pool. Full range of prices and qualities ($50 and up). I can watch my pool while away, and check on water level, critters trapped in the pool, see if the vac is running OK, or spot any algae should it ever occur, etc. It's pretty cheap peace of mind. For a bit more, you can get a pan-tilt-zoom model. I can zoom in to inspect my pool's edge tile, check the clarity of the water, look around my yard, check windows and doors, make sure my pool gates are shut and locked. I use that feature a lot while home, so I don't have to go outside in my jammies, in the cold, to check the gates!
That's a very good idea. The thought occured to me during the trip that it would be nice to have a camera to check the pool/house area. We literally just moved into this house with the pool (July 3rd), so still don't know where everything got packed. But the pool cam really does seem like a very necessary thing.
 
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coolviper777

Member
Jul 2, 2020
6
Pittsburgh, PA
So, a quick update, and another question on my situation. It took about 10 hours to fill the pool halfway up the skimmer. Turned on pump, and it appears to work, with the normal big air bubbles for a minute or so, then settles down. However, I am seeing a somewhat variable pressure between 5 and 6 PSI (instead of the normal 10 psi I see when the filter is backwashed and fresh DE is added - Hayward Perflex EC65 DE).

I also see small air bubbles in the return water flow. Prior to vacation, I had a rock solid 10 psi, and no air bubbles in the return water flow. Also, I see air bubbles in the Hayward Super Pump basket, whereas prior to this, I didn't see air bubbles, it was all clear.

Based on this, info, it seems like there is a pre-pump air leak, and I am guessing it's the flexible piping I see that goes into pump. In fact, when I press on one of the sections, I hear a hissing sound.
 
Last edited:

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,119
Central California
I don't know why, but I watch that video every time I post it. Something about the guy, who seems to be some sort of leak-detection expert, giving away a "trade secret" just cuz. Maybe it costs him some business, maybe it gets him some business. Either way, it's a cool trick, and generous of him to share.
 
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coolviper777

Member
Jul 2, 2020
6
Pittsburgh, PA
Thanks for the video. I was able to narrow it down to the threaded intake into the pump basket. I tightened it, and it helped a lot but still some air. So removed it, wound Teflon tape around the threads and screwed it tight. Problem solved, no more air.

Also, was able to find a patch kit and fix the small tear. The only problem is the pool water is a lot colder due to the fresh water I had to put it. But its in the high 80s next few days, so hoping it will warm to perhaps 80 water temp. Didn't bother the kids or me too much, but the wife thinks we're insane. Looks like a pool heater is in our future for next season.

Thanks for everyone's help, it's appreciated