Does Your Pool Have a Leak?  

by Pool Builders on 07-23-2013 in Articles

If you are filling your pool more often than usual, have a higher than average water bill or your AWL is constantly running, it is probably due to a leak. Fortunately, there is a simple test procedure you can follow to test your pool's levels.

The "bucket test" is a simple, cheap and accurate way to determine if your pool is leaking. This test will also reveal evaporation rates, which are particularly important to monitor in the summer months. Follow the steps below:
STEP 1 - Fill pool up to normal operating level - about 1/2 way between top and bottom of skimmer mouth.
STEP 2 - Get a standard 5-gallon bucket and fill it 3/4 of the way full with water.
STEP 3 - Set filled bucket on first step of pool - partially submerged as shown.
STEP 4 - Mark the level of the water on the inside of the bucket using a marker, crayon or duct tape. Mark the level of the pool water on the outside of the bucket in the same manner. Make sure the water is as calm as possible when making your marks. Turbulent water will create inaccurate markings which can lead to false positives.
STEP 5 - If your pool has an automatic water leveler (AWL), shut off the water flow that leads to it or prop the AWL float up so the pool does not fill itself during the 24-hour test period.
STEP 6 - Allow your pool to run as usual for approximately 24 hours, making sure the bucket and pool are completely undisturbed during that time period.
STEP 7 - Check your results. Using a ruler, measure the exact distance between the mark on the inside of the bucket and the inside water level. Do the same for the outside mark and the pool water level. If the pool water (outside marking) dropped farther than the bucket water, you have a leak that needs to be detected and repaired. If they dropped the same amount, you do not have a leak. If the bucket water level (inside) dropped farther than the pool level (outside), the test has been flawed. There is either a leak in the bucket, or the pool was filled during the test period somehow.
If it rains during your bucket test, the test is no longer valid and will need to be repeated in better weather.
Prevent pets from drinking out of the bucket or swimming in the pool while performing test.
The test is not reliably accurate if performed over a longer period than about 24 hours.
READING YOUR RESULTS: A common result for a bucket test would be a measurement of 1/2" drop on the inside and 2" drop on the outside. That means 1/2" of evaporation took place inside the bucket so 1/2" of evaporation would have also taken place inside the pool. When you subtract the evaporation, you are left with a 1.5" per day drop in water level (per day because test was over 24-hour period). If there are no visible leaks in the pool equipment and you are certain your bucket test was done correctly, you will need a leak detection service to locate it.
EVAPORATION: Typical evaporation rates vary based on many factors -- wind, sunlight/heat and humidity being the most common. In general, winter evaporation rates are negligible and summer evaporation rates are very noticeable (3/4" per day is not uncommon). A bucket test is great at revealing the exact evaporation rate your pool is experiencing because it is directly exposed to the exact same conditions at the exact same time. Evaporation will take place simultaneously across the entire water surface area. The size and depth of the body of water doesn't matter. The water in the bucket will always evaporate at the same rate the pool does.

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