Swimming Pool Leaks – Effects, Causes, Detection, and Repair

A swimming pool is a hefty investment to make in the first place – construction materials are not cheap at all, regardless of the type of pool you opt for, and the cost of installing it is not something to neglect either, especially if you call in a professional team. Thus, you would undoubtedly do everything in your power to keep it in a perfect shape, enjoying it for years on end as a result of your care. Alas, there is an inevitable situation you might be confronted with at one point – a leak might appear in the pool. When this happens, you must take proper action to fix it, obviously. In the following, we will go deep into this subject, learning everything there is to know about swimming pool leaks, what causes them, and how you can remedy the situation.

Effect – What Happens When the Leak Occurs?

As the name of the issue suggests, the leak causes the swimming pool to lose water content. Some of the reasons why this is an unfortunate situation are probably clear, but we will cover them all immediately to make sure you fully realize how severe a leak can be, even if it is a small one. Here are the effects of a leak appearing in the pool:

  • Inconvenient pool maintenance: As water basically disappears from the pool, you will be faced with more maintenance work as you are going to be forced to refill it quite often. Seeing how your schedule is most likely tight as it is, the last thing you want is to add another task to your chore list. Depending on how big the leak is, you might have to refill the pool more than once per week, so even more time is lost on the procedure.
  • Water waste: Needless to say, as the leak occurs and water simply vanishes from the swimming pool, water waste becomes a real issue. Not only are you participating in wasting this precious and vital resource if you let the leakage continue, but you will be faced with higher bills as your water consumption rates will considerably rise.
  • Structural damage: If you do not notice the leak on time or if you simply ignore it or delay its repair too long, another unwanted effect will make an appearance – the pool’s structure will suffer further damage. Thus, when you do end up repairing it, instead of tending to a small leak which would not have been hard or expensive to fix, you will be faced with a bigger issue which will take up more time, effort, and money.
  • Chemical imbalance: As the water slowly leaks from the pool, it causes a disturbance in pH levels, upsetting the normal balance. Not only this, but the water leaking out the pool most likely contains chlorine, an agent that is harmful to plants and can saturate the ground.

What Are the Causes of Swimming Pool Leaks?

The potential cause for the leak depends mostly on what type of in-ground pool you own. It is not an easy-to-find issue and you are obliged to find the source of the problem to know what you are dealing with and prevent future problems from appearing. But let’s not waste more time and see what are the 3 main causes of pool leaks.

I. When dealing with a concrete pool – Although concrete pools are the best in terms of durability, lasting for decades, issues can still arise. A fissure in the surface can appear as a result of a hit with a sharp and heavy object or due to age, fittings can become loose, or decorative tiles may get detached from the pool’s surface, all of these listed problems favoring the appearance of a leak.

II. When dealing with a fiberglass pool – The lifespan of a fiberglass pool is well over 25 years, so it is a dependable construction to go for. However, a crack can occur in the plumbing when the sand which surrounds the pool becomes saturated. Also, the coated surface of the pool could have a fissure if it is not handled properly during the installation process.

III. When dealing with a vinyl pool – Woefully, tears in the lining which cause leaks are a likely occurrence in vinyl pools. As a sharp object hits the side of the construction, a fissure can easily appear, leading to considerable water waste. On the bright side, it is easy to patch up a vinyl pool, so you will not have a major headache if this does happen to you.

Detection – How Do You Figure Out If a Leak Has Appeared?

Now that you know what are the effects of leaks in the pool and what causes them to appear, let’s move on to the detection segment of our article. Keep in mind the advice given below as it allows you to establish for sure whether or not it is a leak you are dealing with, or something else is causing water to disappear from the pool, like evaporation or too much splashing when you are having fun inside it.

Clues that you should look for:
  • #1 – Poor water quality and even the appearance of algae caused by chemical imbalance in the pool;
  • #2 – Cracks or loose tiles in the deck or the area surrounding it;
  • #3 – Soggy terrain near the pool or plumbing;
  • #4 – Overgrown and overextended tree roots;
  • #5 – Cracks in the beam.
How to test whether there is a leak or not:
  • Test #1 – Before you jump to any conclusions, check if evaporation is an issue. Fill a bucket with water and place it on the deck of the pool, marking the water level inside the wall of the recipient. Also, mark the water level of the pool. If after a few days you notice that the water level inside the pool is significantly lower than the bucket, evaporation is not the source of your problems but rather a leak.
  • Test #2Clean the pool thoroughly and inspect it for small cracks. Also, tap the tiles gently to see if any of them tend to fall off or are very loose. Afterward, spray the suspected areas with food dye, enter the pool, and squirt dye again. In case the dye swirls around, there is no leak, but if it gets sucked in, it means that the crack is the root of your problems.
  • Test #3 – Take matters into your own hands and figure out if there is a leak or not by using the geophone or a pressure testing piece of equipment. If you do not own these devices or you are not instructed on how to use them, ask a professional plumber to come in and take a look this person has the right equipment and the experience needed to reveal the truth.

Repair – How to Proceed with Fixing the Crack

Fortunately, regardless of what type of pool you own, there is a fix for the leak which has appeared, a process that you can confidently take up on your own and not call in a professional. Here are the guidelines for fixing leaks depending on the type of pool you own:

  • Case #1 – Fix for Concrete Swimming Pool

  • – Use a concrete saw or grinder to cut a dovetail crack out half an inch deep and extend its length one inch on both ends;
    – Rinse the crack, and when it dries, wipe off the dust settled there;
    – Apply sealer along the length of the crack;
    – Mix the patch with bonding additive;
    – Moisten the edges of the crack and apply the mixture to it;
    – Scrape off excess material, and fill the pool with water.

  • Case #2 – Fix for Fiberglass Swimming Pool

  • – Disk sand the area around the crack and brush it clean with acetone at the end;
    – Apply a bonding coat to the area and let it dry;
    – Catalyze polyester putty and apply it to the crack;
    – When the putty is dry, sand the area smooth;
    – Apply masking tape to the area you have worked on and a gel coat;
    – Lay down a cloth of fiberglass over the repair area;
    – Allow it to dry and sand the surface.

  • Case #3 – Fix for Vinyl Liner Swimming Pool

  • – Clean the area you want to patch up, and lightly sand it with sandpaper;
    – Cut a round-shaped vinyl patch material that is a bit larger than the crack/hole;
    – Apply special vinyl glue to the area around the crack and to the patch you have cut;
    – Press the patch onto the crack area and rub it so that all the air underneath it goes out;
    – Check the patch edges every 5 minutes or so for half an hour and smoothen them out if it is necessary.

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