Is Your Swimming Pool Leaking?

Modern house with swimming pool.

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Spring is the time of year most people are opening their swimming pools, and it is common for people to notice pool water loss. There are ways to determine the reasons for your leaky swimming pool.

There are typically three pool issues that cause water loss:

  • leaks in the pool plumbing
  • leaks in the swimming pool shell
  • excessive splash-out or evaporation from the pool

Excessive Splash-Out or Evaporation

Let's touch on the splash-out and evaporation issue first and see if it can quickly be eliminated. If the pool is not being used frequently, it is unlikely that the problem is splash out. On the other hand, if it is the middle of the summer, with high temperatures and lots of people getting in and out of the pool this could, in fact, be a cause of water loss.

To eliminate evaporation or splash-out pool water loss, try a quick test:

  • Place a 5-gallon bucket on the second step or bench seat and fill it with water so that it is exactly at the same level as the swimming pool.
  • If evaporation is the cause of your loss, both levels should drop at the same rate.
  • If the bucket drops faster, you probably have a thirsty dog — so be sure to secure all pets before the test.
  • If you have a pool leak, then the pool will drop faster than the water level in the bucket.

Once you figure out if you are actually losing water in the pool via a leak, and that it's not just evaporating or being splashed out, there are a few more tests that can be done.

Leaks in Plumbing or the Pool Shell

If you have determined that the swimming pool's water loss is due to a leak, there are a few more things you can do to help narrow down the problem:

  • Inspect around the filter pad for obvious leaks.
  • Look for damp spots or drips. A steady drip can result in a lot of water loss over time.
  • Does your pool leak more with the filtration system running vs. not running?

If the same water loss occurs whether the pool pump and filter system are on or off, it is time to start doing checks in the pool:

  • Start plugging holes around places like water returns, pool skimmers, and the pool main drains, one at a time.
  • Get enough winterizing plugs for the returns and the auto cleaner.
  • Try to plug up just the returns first and see if the leak rate slows down.
  • You can screw a plug into the skimmers and see if you notice a water loss change.

Be sure to post some sort of "Pool Closed" sign so no one uses the pool during the tests. Not only can this be detrimental to the testing, but it could also be dangerous to a swimmer.

If none of those seem to slow down the rate of water loss, you need to call in a leak specialist. These pool professionals specialize in finding and repairing leaking plumbing and other issues. Contact a pool service professional, or any swimming pool retail store you frequent, to get references. This is one of those areas that can really get ugly if the person you hire is not competent. Be sure to ask for a few recent references and call them before you hire a contractor and they start working. Ask about a particular problem and the timeline for the repairs.

Hopefully, your pool will soon be back in perfect condition in time for the many hot summer days ahead.