Leaks In Above Ground Pool Liners
Every type of swimming pool available has the potential to lose water from having a leak. Concrete shell, fiberglass, and in-ground vinyl lined pools are all susceptible to unwanted leaks and almost all of them will leak at some point in their lives. Above ground swimming pools are no exception to that. Concrete pools can only really leak from any openings made while the shell was formed. Openings for the return jets, skimmer, main drain, light niche, or any optional water features must be pre-made and are where the leaks occur more than 99% of the time. This makes it a little easier to find a leak in a concrete pool reducing the amount of area that you have to look. And with the exception of rare stress cracks, fiberglass pools are the same way. Vinyl lined pools like above grounds are a different story. They can have a leak anywhere in the body of the pool so its sometimes extremely difficult to locate the leak. Once a leak is located in a vinyl liner, its really very easy to repair though which can be sometimes the opposite when it comes to the harder shelled concrete and fiberglass pools. Here’s some info on how to locate a leak in an above ground pool.
The first step to locating and repairing a leak in the liner of an above ground is, I think the most important step. And that is to verify that there is in fact a leak AND its not leaking from somewhere else like around the skimmer or from somewhere in the equipment or that the air is just dry and the loss is from evaporation. Please first read my blog Does your above ground swimming pool have a leak?. O.K. now assuming there is definitely a leak somewhere in the vinyl, lets get started.
Step 1 – Verify that the pool is leaking at the liner
Step 2 – Look For Moisture
Walk all the way around the above ground pool and look carefully along the outside bottom edge of the wall. Finding any moisture may not point directly to where the leak area is but it could give you a good glue.
Step 3 – Visually Inspect The Pool Bottom
This is done best while you are still outside of the pool and the pump is off so the water is very still. Again, walk all the way around the pool looking down into the water at the bottom. Note any new or unusual indentions or divits. As water leaks out, it sometimes creates voids as the escaped water washes away some earth or leveling material underneath the liner. But not always. Make a note of where these spots are for the next steps.
Step 4 – Optain a diver mask, diver weight belt(or something to hold you down), a syringe or ear dropper, some type of dye or food coloring(preferably red), and a calm patient attitude. Oh and just in case you find the leak, get an underwater vinyl patch kit.
These are the things you’ll need for step five and hopefully step six.
Step 5 – Get in the pool to look for the leak.
Make sure the pump is off. You’ll want the water to be as calm as possible. Insert the dye in your syringe, get in the pool, put on the mask and belt, take a deep breath, and proceed to drop to the bottom. Get up close and personal with the liner and inspect any areas that look like there may be a leak closely. Now shoot some dye around those areas. Be careful not to stir up the water much with your movement as you are looking to see how the dye moves in the water. Check these areas thoroughly as holes in liners can be hard to just see with the eye. If you shoot some dye around an area next to the liner and the dyed water starts to draw into a hole, congratulations, you’ve found it. Immediately mark that area so to not lose the spot and come up for the repair step.
Step 6 – Repair the leak
This is the easiest part of the whole ordeal. Follow the directions from the patch kit which is nothing more than cutting a piece of furnished vinyl, applying the furnished glue to one side, and then going down in the water and pressing it over the leak spot. At that point, you are done and the patch should hold nicely for the rest of the life of the liner.
Take your time with this process. People can get frustrated easy and start to move too fast and then give up way too soon. Make sure the water quality is good and the pool is clean. Algae and dirt and debris will make the job of finding the leak go from hard to impossible. If you can’t find the leak or the water is too cold you can turn off the pump and let the pool continue to lose water until it reaches the level where the leak is. For example, if your above ground pool is leaking one inch a day but stops loosing water at a foot down, then thats the level where the leak is. Just don’t let the pool drain all the way down cause it will shrink and ruin the liner. Oh and finally, if the liner keeps getting leaks and is many years old, just replace the liner. You’ll be glad you did. I promise.