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How to detect a pool leak and How to fix it

Detecting pool leaks

Swimming pool leaks can happen at any time, if you own an outdoor pool, you should check for leaks periodically as part of your swimming pool maintenance routine. Prior to checking for a leak, it is vital that you take a look at your filtration system. Pay close attention to the pump, filter, and chlorinator if you have one. 

detect pool leak

If you own an inground swimming pool, you should also be looking out for leaks because sometimes cracks appear in the pipes underneath the swimming pool. The best thing to do when it comes to inground swimming pools is to contact an expert, they will come in and perform pressure testing to identify any cracking in the piping system. 

The most important thing is finding out if you indeed do have a leak. Sometimes the water level drops because of the heat, water evaporates and this could alarm you into thinking that there is indeed a leak. This might not be the case so it is vital that you take the time to check properly before you assume that there is a leak. 

Detecting a Leak Using a Bucket 

There are a number of ways of detecting a leak in a swimming pool, one of the ways is to use a bucket. 


Here are the tools that you are going to need to find out if you have a leak using a bucket: 

  • 5-gallon bucket 
  • Large black felt tip pen 
  • Duct tape (instead of the pen) 


  1. The first thing you need to do is put the bucket into the water, do not submerge the bucket in the water, place it in the water on the 2nd or 3rd step. Pour water into the bucket up to the same level as the swimming pool water. Draw a line in the bucket using the pen to mark the water level. 
  2. Shut the Pump Down 

Switch the pump off, you might also need to switch off other devices that you have connected to your pool too. 

  1. Leave the bucket in the water until the next day, approximately 24 hours. When the 24 hours are up, check the water level and the level of water inside in the bucket. Check to see if the swimming pool water and the bucket water have reduced at the same rate. If this is the case then the water in your swimming pool is actually evaporating. If you check the level of water in the bucket and it is more than the water level, there is probably a leak in the swimming pool. Do the test again to be 100 percent sure. Instead of leaving the pump off for this test, switch it on and leave it on for the next 24 hours. 

Once you have done the test again, if you see the same results, then you might have a leak in the plumbing system somewhere. 

Detecting a Swimming Pool Leak Using Ink 

There is another simple way to detect leakages in your swimming pool. You need a few tools to undertake the test, here are the tools that you will need: 

  • Goggles(leak-resistant) 
  • Snorkel 
  • Leak detection dye 

Or dark colored food coloring 

  • Examine the walls and the floor near the swimming pool for water spillages 

Doing this will allow you to figure out the location of the leak. This should give you a fair idea of where the leak actually is at this point. Do some more checking before you start using the dye or the food coloring. When you realize where the leak could possibly be located, get into the swimming pool to identify the leak location. 

  • Utilize the Dye or the Food Coloring to Find Out Exactly Where the Leak is 

Swim to the location of the suspected leak, swim or tread water with caution here. Release the dye next to the wall, if you have identified the correct location of the leak, the dye will start to gravitate towards the leak. If you can’t find the leak next to the wall and you think it might be further down under the water, put your goggles on and dive deeper, repeat the process again. You want the water to be relatively calm so that you can accurately detect where the leak is located. 

Repair Your Vinyl Liner 

Repairing swimming pool leaks is not an easy task, sometimes it is just best to call in a professional to take on the job. Especially if you are dealing with a concrete swimming pool. Now that you have successfully identified that you have a leak, what are you going to do next? For vinyl liners, you can patch them up yourself, he is a quick guide: 

There are a few things that you can do to quickly fix a leak, mostly these solutions are temporary fixes but they will stop excessive leaking for the meantime. 

Quick fixes come in three flavors. All three can be applied underwater or dry.

Waterproof Sticky Tape 

This is one of the tools you will need to quickly stop a leak. You can purchase this tape in most hardware stores and it is designed to fix a whole myriad of things however, it is suitable for use in quickly fixing a swimming pool leak.  It is a high quality, durable tape that can be layered to form a stronger bond over the leak point. 

It is inexpensive, readily available and easy to use. This type of tape is good for minor leaks, you might have to replace the tape a few times however, it is good enough for a quick fix job. 

Sticky Vinyl Patches 

These are specially made for swimming pools and blow-up pools. They are simple to use because it requires less guesswork. They are usually cut into small squares making them much easier to use than tape. Sticky vinyl patches are good for minor leaks and small areas, not suitable for large leakages. 

Vinyl Patch Set 

For leaks that are more severe, vinyl patch kits are more suitable. These sets usually have bigger pieces of vinyl lining to cover up more extensive leakage areas. The glue that comes with the set is specially made for underwater use. Some sets include PVC which is suitable for use on external swimming pool walls. 

Should You Drain The Pool? 

A major question that is often asked when talking about swimming pool leakages is, do you have to drain the swimming pool to patch up the leak? It really depends,  if the water has decreased to the point of the leak, then you don’t need to drain your pool at all. In fact, draining the pool is rarely necessary when it comes to fixing a leak. 

Patching a Swimming Pool Liner Underwater 

Totally draining a pool is rarely a good idea, because it can cause irreparable damage to walls and it often dries up the filter, fixing the leakage under the water is most often the best option. 

Caution: If you own an inground swimming pool, it is vital that you think very carefully before draining your pool. It is best to always leave some water in the swimming pool instead of draining it completely. This is because it can cause some serious damage to your swimming pool, it is best to leave it alone. 

To patch up the leak underwater, you are going to need various tools. Here are the tools you are going to need to get the job done: 

  • Scissors 
  • Cleaning sponge or pad 
  • Plastic wrapped brick (to act as a weight) 
  • Goggles 
  • Vinyl patching set 
  • Application stick 
  • Vinyl sheets 

Get started: 

  • Prepare the area 

Prepare the area by cleaning it of anything that might make it difficult to patch the leak. For example, dirt, algae, or cosmetic lotions. Use a cleaning sponge or pad to do this, clean around the leakage hole. 

  • Cut the Vinyl Patch to Size 

This step will only be necessary if you are not using pre-cut patches. If you are then, you can ignore this part. Cut the patch to the correct size using the scissors. 

  • Add the sticky adhesive 

If you are using pre-cut patches with a sticky adhesive, you don’t need to think about this step. However, if you are using patches that do not have any adhesive on them, add some adhesive using the application stick. 

  1. If you are using a pre-cut patch with a sticky adhesive, 
  2. Get it Ready

Get the vinyl-ready by folding it in half evenly. 

  • Stick it Down 

Place the vinyl over the top of the leakage hole, and press down firmly, get rid of any bubbles by firmly pressing down and moving your hand across the vinyl sheet. 

Use the Brick 

Use the brick to apply pressure to the vinyl. If the hole is at the bottom of the pool, you can do this. However, if the leak is situated on the swimming pool wall, then you won’t be able to carry out this step. 

  • Add More Vinyl 

Add more vinyl if you feel that the leak site needs more security. Repeat the same step with a larger piece of vinyl and leave it for 24 hours. This should secure the leak site however, at some point you might need to get the professionals in to secure it. 


Posted in pool maintenance

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