Leak Location

I think my pool is leaking, what will that cost?

The word “think” is not the appropriate verb; you need to “know”. Because pools can lose water several ways like splash out, evaporation or yes, a leak. So, before you hire a specialist to come search for a leak, you better be sure you actually have a leak.

All pools evaporate daily, some more than others. Several factors lead to the evaporation rate of any particular pool. Heated pools evaporate more. Waterfalls, cascading water and water features lead to higher evaporation. High winds, low humidity, warm days with cool nights are all leading factors to evaporation rates. There is no “standard” evaporation rate, which is why you need to know the evaporation rate for your pool before you can be sure it has a leak.

The Bucket Test

We’re going to describe a very simple test that most people can perform with just normal supplies found around your house. The test must be conducted over a 24-hour period because the results will tell you how much the pool evaporates or leaks each day.

Bring the pool water up to the recommended level.

Fill a 10 Litre plastic bucket with pool water to about 1 cm from top (this simulates the wind condition across your pool).

Place the plastic bucket on the first or second step of the pool (this keeps the test water temperature consistent with the pool water temperature).

Mark the water level on the inside of the bucket with a pencil or tape. A fine, thin, accurate straight line. This will be your evaporation rate test. See picture below.

Shut off pool pump, allow pool water to become still, and mark the pool water level on the outside of the bucket with a pencil. A fine, thin, accurate straight line.

If your pool has an automatic re-filling device, be sure to turn it off during this test. Any rain during this test period will compromise the test and you have to start over.

Turn the pool pump back on and allow the circulation system to operate normally during this test.

To determine how much of your water loss could be simply evaporation – do the bucket test. Place a bucket, nearly full of water on the top step or swim out of the pool. Mark the water level on both the inside and the outside of the bucket, as shown in the image. If the bucket and pool have lost the same amount of water, hooray, you don’t have a leak.If the pool has lost more water than the bucket, then you have a leak in your pool. If you have a leak do the next test to try and determine if the leak is in the pool or in the pipework.

Leak location is a process of elimination. The more you have eliminated the less I have to do, the less I charge you.

Pump On/Pump Off Test

The pump on/ pump off test is performed to give a hint of which part of the plumbing has a leak and whether the leak is located in the filter piping or in the structure of the pool. To perform this test, follow these instructions:

Fill the pool and mark the water level. Run the pool for eight hours straight. Mark the water level again. Measure the distance between the two marks and write the measurement down.

Turn the pump off. Mark the water level. Leave the pump off for eight hours. Measure the water loss and write it down.
Compare the amount of water loss when the pump is off to the amount of water loss when the pump is on.If there is a greater amount of water loss with the pump on than with the pump off, then the leak is most likely located on the pressure side of plumbing, more specifically, in the pool return line.

If you are losing water when the pool is on, check to see if the backwash or waste line is leaking. This is the most common leak we get and is a job for your local poolman.

If there is a lesser amount of water loss with the pump on than with the pump off, then the leak is most likely located on the suction side of plumbing.

If there is an equal amount of water loss with the pump on and with the pump off, then the leak is most likely in the pool, locations such as hydrostatic valve, pool lights, pool fitting, cracks in the pool or maybe pipes that aren’t being used. If it is a vinyl liner pool it indicates a holes or tears in the liner or step out. To repair these problems, it is most likely that I will have to get into the pool with my scuba gear.

I Know my pool is leaking, what will that cost?

You’ve done the bucket test, and the pump on/off test, now you know your pool is leaking and how much it leaks every 24 hours. What’s next? Now you need to contact Pool Leak Services to come and locate the source of your leak. Special underwater tools and equipment are required. Not every “pool man” or “pool company” can offer this specialty service. It takes years of experience to master the art of locating where water is escaping from your in-ground swimming pool.

Here is a little information about pool leaks. Pool leaks are defined as either static leaks or pressure leaks.

  • Static Leaks are defined as water that leaks out of the concrete pool structure through cracks, fissures, holes or worn cement seals or holes in a liner. These types of leaks are detected and verified using a dye test.
  • Pressure Leaks are further defined as ruptures or breaks in the underground pipes that connect the pool structure to the filtration system. Broken pipes are a more catastrophic failure and far more difficult to diagnose. Pressure testing is required.

The results of your testing will determine how I proceed. If the pool loses the same amount of water regardless of the pump being on or off, I’m probably getting into the pool to dye test for leaks. But if that test concludes there are no static leaks in the concrete structure, then the underground pipes must be pressure tested. Pressure testing will confirm a broken pipe and normally where the pipe is broken. The more pipes connected to your pool the more pressure testing must be done and usually anything other than a standard pool will cost more.

The cost of leak detection service is not one size fits all. Owners with spas connected to their pools pay more. The more pipes attached to a pool or spa the more pipes to pressure test. More labour equals more cost. Elaborate, in-floor, self-cleaning systems have far more underground pipe systems so expect to pay more if you have these. On average the cost for a pool leak detection service to locate the source of the leak is $250.00, while a standard sized pool with connected spa is $550.00.

Not all pool companies or even specialty leak detection companies can offer to repair the leak after it has been detected and verified. In fact, if during the static leak dye test, determines the leak can be repaired with an underwater patch, it is a relatively easy and inexpensive job. But, if an underground pipe is broken. expect me to give an estimate of a repair price based on the degree of difficulty.

Pool Dye Test

Pool interior dye test is performed under water using scuba equipment. I will dye test all fitting, main drains, hydrostatic valves, skimmers and pool light niches.

The price for a dye test can be anywhere between $200 and $750 depending on the size of the pool, number of pool fitting, number of pool lights, main drains and hydrostatic valves.


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