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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just what I needed this summer.

She's losing about 2.5 inches every 24 hours.

Observations:
It started happening about 16 days ago. I've known about it, and have been filling it at night. I wanted to get through July 4th picnic without ripping the lawn up. Prior to 16 days ago, it was fine. I noticed 3 depressions about the size of half a canteloupe about a week ago, about 2 feet away from where supply and return lines dive into to the soil. I also have a wet patch that I put on the liner 2 years ago, 4 feet below the water line, that is curled up and needs replacing. Also, when I took the shallow end jet nozzle off the housing about 15 minutes ago, a big ploop of air came out. The air bubble should not have been there, but it could have come from the pump.

My guess:
I'm guessing the patch is leaking a little, and I'm guessing the pipes under those depressions need repair.

My tests:
I took blue food coloring and squirted some drops around the skimmer entrances and jet outlets. I did see definite migration into the skimmer on the deep end. Slow, but unmistakable. I didn't jump in and dye test the patch. I'm flat out going to replace that. I also shut the pump off, flipped the breaker, and put the gizmo plugs in the skimmers and removed the jets and plugged the openings. I'm filling the pool now. At midnight I'm going to shut the water off, and mark the height. If the level drops a lot by morning, that patch is getting replaced first thing in the morning. If the level stays steady, I'll take out the plugs one at a time, every 12 hours, and see which ones are the guilty parties.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well, I conked out before midnight, and the water ran all night. I checked it at 6 am and shut the water off. I had a flood out by my patio about 12 feet away (few steps lower than the concrete deck surrounding the pool). I have a drain grate in the lawn next to the patio, so I can hear the trickle. Pretty decent size leak. More than drip, less than a stream. I dye tested the steps, got nothing. Same with the jets. I dye tested the far skimmer, and there's a pretty good current going into the skimmer (even with the gizmo plug in the bottom port). Looks like there's a crack in the housing, but I can't see it. There's a recessed lip at the level of the top of the inlet box, and the dye shoots to that lip, and disappears.

But I'm not sure if that's the only leak. That leak spot is pretty high, and the pool level falls several inches lower than that. So I'm going to leave the plugs in, and see how low the water gets. If the water level stops at the skimmer leak (where ever that is), then I'll start the trial and error with removing the plugs. I'm also going to hop in the pool in a little bit to try to get my eyes on the skimmer leak from inside the pool.

I also noticed that the concrete deck panels nearest the lawn drain grate have settled about 1/2 inch. So it's washing out underneath. I noticed that last summer. Easy enough repair with a grout pump, though. I just need to fix the damn leaks.

My guess right now is that there are several leaks, but none in the steps, the near skimmer housing, or where the return jets penetrate the liner. That leaves this far skimmer housing, and all of the buried lines yet to check.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Right now, 5 hours after shutting the water off, the water level is holding steady at the very tippy top of the skimmer housing, and the patio is bone dry. That tells me I have at least one leak at that elevation. I jumped in the pool and did some more dye tests, including right around the old patch, and nothing came up. I'm not too worried about the leak in the skimmer, because it's so darned high. I never keep the water level that high.

Next step is to do the trial and error on the underground lines. First I'm going with my instinct, which is the low end return jet. That had air in it yesterday, and it's also the jet that the kids like to hold the foam tubes up to and shoot water across the pool. That puts a lot of pressure on the line. I'm heading out there now to take a measurement, and pull the plug out of that jet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
3 hours since the last check. Both jet plugs are out. No drop in water. Taking a measurement before dark, then take out the gizmo plugs, one tonight, one tomorrow, then recheck.

Thought for sure there'd be a leak on the low end jet line. Could be that it only happens with pressure on.

If I don't get anywhere with these static tests, next steps will be cutting open the PVC lines above ground, glue test fittings on, and pressure test each line. Only hitch will be the bottom drain. I'll only be able to pressurize that line a couple psi, since I can't cap the other end. But it's not impossible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I kicked the pump on about an hour ago (I needed to circulate some chlorine). Level dropped 3/4 of inch in the last 60 minutes. The gizmo plugs are still in, so it's just recirculating water from the bottom drain. But now I know that at a minimum, the pressure side pipe leaks. Regardless, I have time, so tonight I'll plug the jet outlets and take the gizmo plugs out, and see how the skimmer return lines do.

Tomorrow I'll dig up the pressure side lines by the little sink holes, and do a repair. I'll also install a test nozzle and isolating valve on the supply and returns, while I'm at it.

I took a look down at the bottom of the two skimmers, and the fittings screwed into the bottom are dark grey PVC. Also my pressure pipe dives into the ground at an odd angle (60 degrees). What I'm getting at is that I think all my UG lines are flexible tubing, not rigid PVC. This whole thing could just be some bad worm drive tubing clamps near where the pipes dive into the ground, which are right where the 3 little sink holes are. That would be sweet. I've been having visions of split pipe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
All night, I left the gizmo plugs out, and jet plugs in. I lost 2 inches of water. That's roughly 650 gallons, or almost twelve 55 gallon drums, in 12 hours. That's almost a gallon a minute! By my reckoning, with a foot of differential head behind it, that's a 1/4" diameter hole in the return pipe somewhere. I should be seeing that water somewhere, for crying out loud. I have hard shale 20 inches below the turf. I remain perplexed on where it's all going. I have to check the lawn drain boxes, and see if any are collecting the water. It was impossible to do that in the rain yesterday.

So now I know I have holes in both the jet (under pressure) and skimmer lines.

I'm going to gamble this morning, and let the water keep leaking out. I'm only 2 hours away from that at this rate. If it keeps going, I have no idea what's up. Remember, when I had everything plugged, I didn't lose any water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes, not a fun way to spend a weekend.

I pumped the water down to the bottom of the skimmer inlet (I was too impatient). Now I'm just waiting to see if the skimmer body drains out and pool level stays where it's at.

In the mean time, I started digging up the return lines, near the pump. Those little sink holes weren't sink holes. They were old root balls for some sort of plant the prior owner must have had for hiding the pool equipment, and then ripped out. I dug down 9 inches and hit solid shale. So no sinkholes. Bone dry, too.

In digging out the return lines, I have one elbow completely exposed, with the hose clamp and soft tubing. It is all mud. It took me 15 minutes with a shovel digging through cohesive but merely damp soil to get down to the top of the elbow (not far down, maybe 16 inches), and then I was able stick my whole fist into a mud cavity under the elbow. Freaky, but there's at least one leak. My plan now is to dig out the rest of the elbows, put some air pressure on the suction side of the pump, and look for the leaks.

This sucks. But so far it hasn't cost me any money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
My pvc valves leak through, so I had to pressurize everything. I plugged up the jets and skimmers. It basically pressurized up to 4 psig, which is 9 ft 4 inches, the depth of the pool. The excess air blew out the bottom drain because of that line's valve not holding. But not a single leak in the elbows. It's been holding 4 psig for almost 2 hours. Lines, filter, pump, everything. I know it's not much pressure, but it is holding.

I think I'm at a dead end. I've checked for holes in the liner twice. Pressure tested the lines. I think I might cut in some better valves during the week and go higher on the pressure. Tomorrow I'll backfill all the holes I dug.

For now, I'm filling it back up with water. I'm going to do a bucket test, also. At least I'll know the evaporation rate.
 

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Aggie, i haven't replied till now because i didn't have any ideas that would maybe help you. I still don't, but have been reading your updates each time i sign on. Please keep the updates coming as i'm curious (as i'm sure others are), what you come up with. Good luck pal-wish i could help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Held pressure all night. I took the test fitting out, and I'm refilling. Going to install new valves and retest at higher pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The depot didn't have the valves I wanted. Refilling, and the pump is circulating through the filter, with the two skimmers plugged. Filling very quick. Also, when I shut the pump off, it definitely flows backward through the pump.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I shut the pump off at 8 pm last night. 7 am this morning, the pool level was down 2 full inches. I marked the level, and checked about 45 minutes ago. I think it's been steady for the last couple hours. Whatever leak I have is at the level.

I then set up a hydro level with a length of clear 3/8 tubing, affixed one end on a chair, end pointing straight up, and the other end by the pump, end also pointing up. Filled it with water, dropped some blue dye in each end. Then I took the height on pool end, and went over to the pump. If there is a leak, it would equalize at the leak (which I think it has). That height measurement corresponds pretty close to the bottom of the pump housing and the bottom of the filter hosing, by the drain plug (by some quirk, my pump inlet is actually lower then the normal operating water level). I filled the pump housing and added blue dye, and stuck a clean paper towel under the pump. I'll check it after lunch. I'm also trying to figure out how it could siphon up into the filter. The filter housing is under vacuum when the pump shuts off, so I don't see how it could leak, unless something else was going on.

I'm also going to wash down the area under the filter. There's a lot of media under it, and I don't remember it being there this spring. In fact I know it wasn't. Could be that the filter housing is leaking and siphoning out somehow, but that alone won't explain everything I've seen so far.

I'll do the checks in a little bit, but I won't be able to take the filter apart until Wednesday evening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Checked it again. Water level is steady. Also, no leak on the bottom of the pump housing.

I still have doubts about siphoning, but I can't ignore all the old media under the filter, on the concrete. I still have doubts. I think a quick check would be for me to power wash the old media, leaves, and dirt from under the housing, and then turn the pump on. If I see water spraying out under there while under pressure, then there's my leak. But I have doubts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Here's where I'm at. I just went out and checked, and the water level is back down to the level I found it at yesterday morning. I had added about an inch and half yesterday afternoon, so it lost an inch and half.

I cleaned up around the filter housing. In the process of spraying out the old media and cleaning it up, it filled the hole I dug around the pipes. That hole this morning is still holding some of that water. The level in that hole dropped about 6 inches in 15 hours. The ground isn't exactly sucking the water up. But the area around the filter is somewhat dry, and the filter housing is full of water. I have doubts that the filter housing is the leak. I'm refilling the pool now, and I'm going to keep my eyes open in the area around the underside of the equipment.

What also intrigues me right now is the corner of the pool by the steps and around my drain grate. That's pretty damp right now. If I had just that to go by, I'd say the leak is in that area. But I dye tested that whole area.

So I'm going to refill, and in 45 minutes, dye test it all again.
 

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So you have a floppy/loose patch in the pool and your digging up plumbing? It sounds like it would've been cheaper to call a pro 16 days ago and have saved the water and chems.

I've read that you've plugged the skimmers and lost water, plugged the returns and lost water at same rate......then plugged everything and powered down the pump and still lost water. Then you dug up the plumbing and spotted no leaks. Your pressure test checked out good ( you should've done this before you picked up the shovel)..............You do not need to test at a higher pressure a leak that size will show up easy.

Every thing seems to be pointing at a leak in the liner or the light. You should vacuum the pool and throw on some googles and find the tears/cuts in the liner, replace the old patch and look for new holes......they look like dirt that wont move when you try to brush it away. Also you can do a dye test around the light, it is easier if you remove the light and lay it on the deck. ***
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I haven't posted here yet. I've been posting on a pool site. I found 7 leaks, 3 of which are in the liner. All reasonably repairable, except for the one in the skimmer flange. I'm going to look into that a little more closely, with an eye toward doing something temporary until I get the liner redone. The floppy loose patch is water tight. I couldn't even get it off, so I left it. It was just the edges that curled up.

I am way too quick to dig holes. It's in my DNA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ok, I have my gaskets, new screws, two part marine putty, liner patch kit, and I bought a better snorkel, and a syringe of real leak detection dye. Heading out to the pool now.
 
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