First rule of thumb when it comes to testing your pool for leaks, is not to jump to conclusions. A fair amount of water will be lost via evaporation and if family and friends have had a great time splashing water about, loss is ‘par for the course’. However, if you find that you’re routinely having to top up more than two inches of water per week, then investigation is called for.

Here is your Pool Leak Testing checklist to work through and fix yourself. The process ranges from simple to tedious, so like any smart detective, spare no effort, be patient and ‘tick off the troubleshooting boxes’ by process of elimination. Many of the following will be asked of you by the expert you may need to call on, so nothing is in vain.

  1. The Bucket Test – so that you’re not worried you have an overactive imagination, first assess evidence of a leak by measuring your pool’s evaporation rate.
    • TEST A: Turn off the pump and any other auto-refill device.
      Fill a 5 lt bucket with pool water and mark both the pool water level and the level in the bucket.
      Leave the bucket on the second step of the pool for 24 hours, then check the loss of both.
      If the pool loses more than the bucket does, there is a leak.
    • TEST B: Repeat the above test, this time with the pump on.
      If the water level of the pool is greater with the pump on, the leak is likely in the plumbing somewhere.
  2. The Ink Test – leak-finder ink is best but food colouring will also do.
    • The most common leaks occur due to separation of plastic skimmers and the concrete pool. Easily remedied with pool putty. Drop some test dye near joins while the pool pump is off and watch if it gets sucked into a leak.
    • Another common leak spot to test in pools are the underwater light fittings – especially in the conduit to the junction box. Fill the opening of the conduit in the back of the light niche with pool putty, black butyl tape, or a cord stopper.

Pools are meant to be water tight but it’s the sealants that will deteriorate first. All pool fittings and accessories are trouble spots to regularly inspect. It’s not a mistake, as part of pool leak checking, to don a pair of goggles and inspect the walls and floor of your pool. Testing is never as wasted exercise, so make the choice to always have a handle on it.

Pool leak testing: Part 2 will cover the worst-case scenarios of leaks in the walls of the pool or in the underground pipes.