Skip to content


Home / Blog / Find and Fix a Swimming Pool Leak
Find and Fix a Swimming Pool Leak

Find and Fix a Swimming Pool Leak

We all love taking a dip in the pool on a hot summer day! Pools are a great addition to any home, and you want to make sure you are getting the most out of your swimming pool. Any pool will need to be refilled regularly, it’s part of the routine maintenance and upkeep. It is important to stay knowledgeable about your pool’s water levels.

During the hot summer months, pools lose water to evaporation, or when people are using the pool a lot, water will also be lost to splash-out. On the other hand, pools will gain some water with rainfall, especially in the wet Georgia summers.

However, if you are frequently adding more than two inches of water a week, you may have a leak. It’s not always easy to find and fix a swimming pool leak. While there are more simple ways to tell if your pool is leaking, finding and fixing the swimming pool leak is more complicated. The professionals at The Pool Butler can help find and fix a swimming pool leak!

Determine If a Pool is Leaking

There are lots of ways a pool could lose water, and a leak is only one way. So how can you tell if you really have a leak? An easy way to find if your swimming pool is leaking is by how much water you are adding in order to keep the water level at the correct height. If you are adding more than two inches of water a week for a few weeks in a row, you might have a leak. But there are some simple tests to help determine if you actually have a leak.

Bucket Test

One method for finding a swimming pool leak is the “bucket test”. This will help you decide if the loss of water is from normal evaporation or a real leak. You will only need two supply items for your experiment: a 5-gallon bucket and a heavy-duty, waterproof marker.

First, place the bucket on the second step of your pool. Fill the bucket with water until it matches the water level of the pool. Then, use the marker to mark the water level inside the bucket. Now, turn off the pump and wait 24 hours.

When you come back to the bucket, check the water level. If the water levels in the bucket and the pool have both gone down, but they remain at even levels, you are losing water due to evaporation. However, if the water level in the pool is lower than in the bucket, then you probably have a swimming pool leak. Now that you have identified the pool is leaking, you have to find out where the swimming pool is leaking from in order to fix it.

Testing with the Pump On

Whether or not the “bucket test” experiment shows a leak, you will still want to repeat the test with the pump on to be completely sure. Running the test with the pump both off and on can give you a lot more information than the bucket experiment alone. Sometimes the swimming pool leak can only be seen if the pump is running. This is not uncommon.

If you still seem to be losing a lot of pool water after completing the original bucket test with the pool pump off, the swimming pool leak may only be occurring when the pump is switched on. If the first test did help you to find a swimming pool leak, rechecking the pool with the pump on will help you find out where the leak is located.

For the second bucket test, you will want to start over with an equal water level in the bucket and your pool. Mark the new water level. Now, turn on the pump and wait another 24 hours. Just like in the last test, if the water level in the pool drops more than in the bucket, you know that the swimming pool leak is happening when the pump is turned on.

This helps with locating where the leak is coming from, and in turn helps to know how to fix the swimming pool leak. Read on to see how to continue learning how to find and fix a swimming pool leak.

Find and Fix a Swimming Pool Leak [infographic]

If the Pool Leaks Only With the Equipment On

If the pool is leaking only with the pump on, the likely culprit is a pressure-side return leak. This means that the leak is located in the piping on the other side of the pump, where pressure forces the water back into the pool. What might be a small drip with the pump off can become a fast leak when the pump turns on and increases the pressure.

Think about it as if it was a garden hose. When the hose is kinked to stop the water from coming through the hose completely, it has a small leak. When the twist or kink is removed from the hose, the water rushes through easily because of all the pressure build-up from the other side of the kinked hose. The same situation happens with the swimming pool pump!

At this point, you can start looking for signs of a pressure-side leak. Check the backwash or waste line for any continuous drips. You can also search for underground leaks by checking the soil. Look for moist or soft patches in the area of your yard above the pipes that return water to the pool.

If you suspect you have a pressure-side leak, it is best to call in a professional to find the exact location of the leak. It will likely take some serious repair work to find and fix a swimming pool leak if the leak is coming from underground. The experts at The Pool Butler are experienced in pool leaks, and we can help you find and fix a swimming pool leak to get your pool back up and running for you to enjoy. Contact us online or call us at 770-874-4531 and we’ll come to your home to help find and fix a swimming pool leak and pressure-side leak in no time!

If the Pool Only Leaks With the Equipment Off

If the pool seems fine when the pump is on, but leaks when the pump is turned off, you may be able to tell where the leak is. This is likely a suction-side leak. In other words, the leak is located on the intake side of your pump system, before the pump. The reason the pool doesn’t leak with the pump on is that the pump creates a vacuum. The suction of that vacuum draws water away from a crack or hole and keeps the water from escaping. But when the pump is off, water can leak out of a small hole or crack in the pipes.

If you think you have a suction-side leak, you will have to check the length of the pipeline for leaks. If the pipeline is underground this can be difficult, especially if it is under the pool decking. If all of these tests seem too complicated to figure out yourself, remember that the professionals at The Pool Butler can help find this kind of leak.

If the Pool Leaks With the Equipment On and Off

After completing both of the bucket tests and it seems like the swimming pool is leaking with the pump both on and off, you may need to look beyond the plumbing. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t an issue in the plumbing, but it does raise concerns about other areas.

One common location for a non-plumbing leak is the skimmer where it connects to the pool. Especially in concrete pools, the skimmer can separate slightly from the concrete and create a leak. Underwater lights can also leak. These types of embedded items that are built into the sides of the pool can come away from the sides over time. The good news is that both of these structures, the skimmer and the lights, can be fixed pretty easily with some pool putty.

You can also search a plaster or concrete pool for any obvious cracks. In a vinyl pool, look for tears in the vinyl. If you think you’ve spotted a leak, you can use a dye test to verify the leak. With the pool pump off and the water as still as possible, put some dark-colored food coloring in the pool and watch to see if the dye is pulled toward the crack or tear. You can also use specialized leak detection dye you get at a pool supply store. If the dye is being pulled toward a crack or tear, you have found your leak.

Let the Pool Drain

Unfortunately, some swimming pool leaks are not as easy to find. If you don’t think the problem is the skimmer or lights coming away from the sides of the pool, and you can’t find a crack or tear in the concrete, plaster, or vinyl linings, you may be able to simply let the leak drain the pool. Close the skimmer valve and run the pump off the main drain. Let the leak do its work and watch the water level drop. If the water level goes below the skimmer and keeps dropping, the leak is likely not at the skimmer. Let the pool continue to drain until the water level stabilizes.

The level at which the water stops draining is where your leak is located.

Check to see if the water stops at a wall fitting, wall step, or pool light. If it stops at any of these, check them closely for evidence of a leak. In any case, carefully inspect all around the pool just above the water level. Since the water level has dropped below the leak, you won’t be able to use the dye test as the leak is no longer covered with water. You can look for other signs of suction.

Inground swimming pool in a gorgeous backyard garden

Inground swimming pool in a gorgeous backyard garden

If you see small debris in a crack, that could be a sign that there was suction from a leak drawing in small debris. The crack or tear may be tiny, so you will need to do a thorough inspection to see where the leak is located. Finding a swimming pool leak is a lot of work, so we always recommend calling the professionals at The Pool Butler to do the work for you! Now that you have found the swimming pool leak, you still have to fix it!

Fixing a Pool Leak

In a vinyl pool, fixing a leak can be a DIY project. Simply cut out a patch about 1 inch larger than the tear on all sides, apply some glue, and place the patch over the tear. If the patch is applied above water level you can simply place it on and apply pressure for two minutes. If the patch is below water level, apply the glue to the patch, then fold it in half. This minimizes the exposure of the glue to the pool water. Position the patch underwater next to the tear. Then, in one smooth motion, unfold the patch and slap it over the tear. Keep pressure on it for 5 minutes to set. It may benefit you to drain the pool until just below the leak’s location. This way the patch is easier to install, and there is less room for errors occurring since you are not working underwater.

For a fiberglass, concrete, or plaster pool, repairs are more involved. Unless you are particularly handy, this is probably a good time to call in the professionals. The experts at The Pool Butler are trained to find and fix a swimming pool leak in all types of pools. So whether your pool is vinyl, fiberglass, concrete, or plaster, you can count on us to fix it correctly. Contact us online or call us at 770-874-4531 if you think you have a leak. We’ll confirm your suspicions of a leak, we will find and fix a swimming pool leak so you can go back to enjoying your pool for the rest of the summer season or to make sure it is up and running at the beginning of the next swimming season.

The Pool Butler