Whether it’s an above ground or in-ground pool with a vinyl liner, a concrete pool, or anything in between, eventually you may find yourself noticing decreasing water levels. Pool leaks can happen no matter what kind of pool you have, and knowing where your leak is happening can be half the battle for fixing it before your yard turns into a newly discovered marshland. Discover how to find a leak in a pool with these simple methods below.

Check the Pool’s Equipment

Before you do any other swimming pool leak repair, check all of the pool’s equipment first. It could be that your filtration system or heater simply has a leak, or a pipe has cracked. Pool leak detection starts with actually determining if you have a real leak or are simply losing water due to evaporation or faulty equipment. You can easily determine if it’s evaporation through the bucket method (detailed below).

Check the Vinyl Liner

Above-ground and inground pools with vinyl liners can develop leaks quite easily. Thankfully, these can be easily patched. If you notice a waterfall springing from the side of your pool or that the ground around your pool has turned swampy, you definitely have a leak in the liner.

  1. If you just found an in-ground pool leak or one in your above ground pool, quickly grab a piece of duct tape larger than the hole and stick it on the inside of your liner, under the water. This will be a temporary fix until you can properly patch the hole.
  2. You can now either choose to use a patch or completely replace your vinyl liner. Although patches are temporary, they can last for a few years. You can choose from waterproof tape, peel-and-stick patches, or a vinyl patch kit. Just note, that if the tear or hole is rather large, this quick fix may not work all too well. If your vinyl liner isn’t too old (less than a year or two), it’s definitely worth it to try a patch, instead of completely replacing the entire liner. If your liner is over 10 years old, it may be time for a new liner completely.
  3. If you need to patch your liner underwater, you’ll want to use a patch specifically made for vinyl swimming pool liners (on Amazon for about $9).

The Ink Method

For this pool leak detection method, grab a pair of leak-proof, anti-fog goggles, Leak Finder Dye, red food coloring, and a snorkel.

  1. Begin by checking the walls and ground around your pool for any wetness (not caused by rambunctious swimmers). This will help you determine the height of the leak along with the area. Be sure to check the entire pool in case you have multiple leaks.
  2. Once you’ve located the area where the leak may be, gently hop into the pool; try not to disturb the water too much. Squirt a small amount of dye in the water close to the pool wall. If you’ve located the correct spot for the leak, you will see the dye move towards the crack or source of the leak like a current. If there’s a chance the leak is at the bottom of the pool, put on the goggles and snorkel if needed and do the same thing. Again, be sure to move slowly and not disturb the water too much, otherwise, the dye will just run wild.
  3. If you do find a leak and have a concrete pool, you will need to patch the crack in the concrete with a pool plaster repair kit.

The Bucket Method

For this method, you’ll need a 5-gallon plastic bucket and either duct tape or a large black marker.

  1. Place your bucket in the water on the second step of the pool, making sure it’s not completely submerged. If it is, move it up a step. Fill up the bucket with water to match the water level of the pool. Using your duct tape or marker, make a notch or mark the level of the water inside the bucket.
  2. Turn off your pool’s recirculating pump. If you have any other auto-fill devices, turn these off too.
  3. After 24 hours, go back and compare the water level in the pool with the water level in your bucket. If the pool level is lower than the level in the bucket, you have a leak. However, if both levels have gone down but are still even, you are just losing water through evaporation.
  4. You can narrow down the source of the leak but repeating this test but with the pump on. This time, if the level in the pool is higher with the water circulating under pressure, then your leak is most likely in the plumbing.

Call a Pro

If all else fails, call in a professional. Swimming pool leak repairs are sometimes are too difficult or you may not be getting the results you want, which means it’s time to ask for some help.

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