If your pool is losing an inch or more water per day, you know that it is leaking somewhere. Water loss is a major telltale sign that there is a leak, and usually, the skimmer lines, which draw water from your pool to be filtered, cleaned and returned, are the culprit.
Leaks in your pool’s skimmers can cause structural problems if you do not pay attention to them immediately. They also cost lots of money to repair, so finding out if your pool leaks are coming from your skimmers and fixing them right away are crucial in maintaining the health of your pool—and your pocket– in the long run.
Tips for Finding Skimmer Leaks
The purpose of a pool skimmer is to catch the larger debris from your pool water as it begins to circulate through your filtration system. Since a huge percentage of your pool water flows through the skimmer as it makes its way to your filter, a leak in this part of your pool poses serious problems to your property. If you have a gunite pool, you can find the skimmer encased in concrete within your pool’s bond beam.
If you keep on topping off your pool because its water levels are constantly dropping, then you know that the issue is not merely water evaporation due to the summer heat but a pool skimmer leak. If you suspect that your swimming pool has this problem, don’t fret. These leaks are easy to fix as long as you detect them early and your pool’s skimmers are not yet physically damaged. Most leaks coming from the skimmer are easy to fix because they are only caused by the skimmer pulling away from the concrete.
Before we discuss the actual steps in finding leaks in your skimmer, here are a few things you need to remember:
- Switch off your pool pump. Before you begin finding the leak in your skimmer, the pump of your pool must be shut off. This will make it easier for you to find leaks around the skimmer box area.
- Prepare to add water if necessary. If you are going to inspect your skimmer for leaks, the water level in your pool should be high enough to reach the area where the skimmer box is located. It will be impossible for you to determine the source of the leak if the water level does not reach the skimmer box, especially if you are going to conduct a dye test. If the water level is not high enough, add more water to your pool so that the water level is about an inch higher than where your skimmer box meets the pool wall.
- Uncover your skimmer. Removing your skimmer cover from the skimmer area will make it easier for you to inspect the area where you suspect a leak. Usually, skimmer-cover boxes have more screws that you will have to remove before you even uncover them. Some models don’t have screws but have plastic snaps or handles which you must simply disengage in order to remove the skimmer box.
Steps in Locating Skimmer Leaks
To confirm that your pool’s skimmer is leaking, mark the side of your pool with a pencil and closely monitor the mark over a few days. If after several days you notice that your pool water is already several inches lower than the mark, it’s time that you suspect a leak.
Usually, leaks in the skimmer are indicated by the water stopping right at—or just below—the mouth of your pool’s skimmer. You may identify the source of the leak by first turning the filter pump off, taking the lid off the skimmer, and removing the pump basket, the skimmer weir, and the diverter to see if there is any leak. It is easier to find the source of the leak if you visually inspect all the interior surfaces of your skimmer for cracks and breaks.
Conducting a dye test will also help you determine where exactly your pool is leaking. To conduct this test, all you need to do is to fill an eye dropper with red food coloring, squeeze a small amount of the dye near the area you suspect might be cracked, and disturb the water. If you see the dye pulling into cracks or crevices, then those areas where the coloring is drawn into are where the leaks are.
It also helps to inspect the plumbing seals to find the leak in your skimmer. To do this, look down into the bottom of your pool’s skimmer, where you will find either one or two holes. These holes are usually where the pool plumbing attaches to the skimmer. You will most likely find threads inside the holes in your skimmers, as well as a copper or PVC threaded fitting screws into the ports. If you try to squirt dye above the holes and notice at least any of it being pulled down into the holes, then that is a clear indication of a leak.
Most of the time, a leak in this area of your skimmer is caused by a poor seal between the fitting and the skimmer threads. To know how well the skimmer threads are sealed to the fitting, try putting your finger into the holes. If you feel where the top of the fitting meets the skimmer threads, then they are sealed just fine. Otherwise, you need to do something about it.
If you don’t find any leak from any of the abovementioned areas in your pool’s skimmer, it’s time you inspect your skimmer throat. Look over the edge of your pool into the skimmer’s throat and inspect the area to see if there are cracked tiles. As you do this, pay attention to the corners and the seal between the plastic skimmer and the concrete shell of your pool. Squeeze small amounts of dye on the areas where you find the cracks or gaps and mark them with a grease pencil.
Fixing the Skimmer Leak
You can easily repair cracks in your skimmer body by using an underwater epoxy mix known as Pool Putty. You may use this on the front three sides of the skimmer, where it meets the concrete pool to fill in the gaps and cracks.
When using Pool Putty, you need to chip out all the loose or cracked material, mix equal parts of resin and hardener with pool water, then roll it into a snake. Push the putty in place and that’s it. You may also pack in new plaster at the interface of your skimmer and concrete pool wall to seal up the area again. Ideally, plaster mix is very easy to work with because all you need to do is add and stir it to a spreadable consistency and apply it to the area with a putty knife.
Regardless of how big or small a leak in your pool’s skimmer is, remember that pool leaks are always worth your attention. They do not only waste your precious treated pool water, they can also lead to other issues such as rusted pool walls, sandy pool floor, and erosion if left untreated.
If you need a pool company for your pool leak detection needs, call us at Nelson Company at 941-256-4079. Our pool professionals will get your pool back in tip-top shape again.