Whether it’s a small drip or a major rupture, a leak in your pool’s plumbing system must be addressed promptly to prevent further damage. Over time, pool leaking pipes can cause the pool water level to drop, require frequent refilling, and possibly cause structural issues if left unrepaired.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through identifying where your pool leaks from and providing the steps to fix common pipe problems. We’ll explain how to inspect and repair cracked or damaged PVC pipes, fix leaky fittings and connections, address ageing rubber gaskets, and more.
Following the tips and advice in this blog post will have you back to enjoying your pool without the hassle of constantly battling a dropping water level.
Understanding Pool Pipe Systems
All pool plumbing systems have a basic setup. Understanding how yours is configured will help pinpoint where a leak may be located. The most common pipe system consists of main return lines that bring filtered water back to the pool and main suction lines that remove water from the pool for filtering.
These main lines connect to smaller pipes that crossover under the pool and join back to complete the circulating loop. Additional lines connect skimmers, main drains, and pool cleaning systems.
Knowing where these pipes are buried, and the flow of water through the system is important for effective troubleshooting and repair. Examining your pump room may also provide clues from the layout of the pipes and any previous work or modifications that could influence where an issue develops.
Identifying Pool Pipe Leaks
Leaks can occur in pool plumbing systems in a few different ways. One of the most common and apparent signs is a loss of water level in your pool over a short period.
This indicates a larger rupture somewhere, allowing a steady flow of water to escape. A simple water test by fully circulating the pump can also help spot leaks as you physically inspect all buried pipes and connections above and below water.
Skimmer leaks - the most common leak is a separation between the plastic skimmer and the concrete pool. This is easily fixed with pool putty. Some smaller, more gradual leaks may only be noticed by water constantly damp around the pool, an area of the yard, or the pump running excessively. Visual inspection can reveal wet or soaked spots in the soil or worn-out rubber components that have developed cracks.
You may also see mineral deposits or discolouration forming on pipes from water slowly seeping out. Using a pool store plumbing leak detection dye that temporarily colours the water is also an effective way to trace the source.
Add the dye and closely check all returns, fittings, skimmer baskets and equipment areas over the next few hours to pinpoint the leakage point. Narrowing down the location is important before attempting the repair.
Tools And Materials
You will need a few basic tools and materials to repair common plumbing leaks successfully. A selection of pipe wrenches and channel lock pliers in different sizes are essential to disconnect and tighten fittings.
You’ll also need a utility knife to cut PVC pipe as required. For gluing new PVC joints, you must use primer and PVC cement specifically made for pool pipes. It’s a good idea to have several sizes of elbows, unions, couplings and cleaning bushings on the supply side in case a replacement part is required.
Rubber washers and o-rings will be needed if replacing old gaskets. Epoxy putty or PVC solvent weld can do the job for minor cracks.
It would be best to have rags, buckets, and a wet or dry vacuum handy for cleanup. A wire coat hanger can help snake clogged lines. A leak detection kit with dye tablets makes pinpointing the exact spot simpler. And, of course, always wear proper safety equipment like gloves, eye protection and breathing masks when working with chemicals.
Step-By-Step Repair Process
Repairing leaks in pool pipes is important to maintain your swimming pool. Small leaks can turn into big problems if not addressed promptly.
Here are the step-by-step procedures to repair pipe leaks in your pool:
Step 1: Find the leak
Whether the leak emerges from a pipe connector below the pool deck or under the skimmer, fixing leaks from underground plumbing takes work. Before you can fix the leaks, you need to determine if the leaks are coming from the pipes by shutting off the pump and plugging all the lines.
This may require draining some water from the pool to expose the pipework. Carefully inspect all pipes and fittings for any signs of cracking, corrosion or visible leaks. Sometimes, you may need a leak detection solution to pinpoint small or intermittent leaks.
Once the leak location is identified, drain more water from the pool as needed for access. Be very careful when draining water, as pipes may further weaken without water pressure. Support unstable pipes properly to avoid additional damage.
Step 2: Prepare the repair area
Clean away any dirt, debris, algae or calcium deposits from the pool leak site. This is important for proper adhesion of replacement materials later. Chisel or remove rough edges for large cracks to facilitate a smooth repair.
Step 3: Select appropriate repair materials
For small hairline cracks, an epoxy putty may suffice. You may need to cut out and replace the damaged pipe section for larger cracks or holes. Have PVC pipe, solvent glue, fittings, clamp-style repairs or flexible patches on hand based on the type and extent of the damage?
Step 4: Apply primer or solvent as directed by the product manufacturer
This helps ensure a strong bond between the pipe surfaces and repair materials. For epoxy patches, clean and roughen the pipe surface as specified.
Step 5: Apply the repair material and securely fasten it in place
Carefully measure and cut the new piece to fit tightly for replaced pipe sections. Apply solvent glue and rapidly assemble while the adhesive is still wet.
Step 6: Allow adequate curing or drying time as per product instructions
Epoxy patches may take a few hours, while solvent-welded PVC joints take 24 hours to cure fully. Support or clamp the leak repair in the interim.
Step 7: Refill the pool and monitor the repair area closely for a few days
Add appropriate chemicals and balance water as needed. Check for any new concrete pool leaks - if found, repeat the repair process.
Step 8: For extensive damage or old corroded pipes, full pipe replacement may be necessary
Ideally, you want the leak to be high on the pool wall to avoid draining the entire pool. This is a more involved process requiring dewatering the entire pool. But it ensures long-term leak prevention.
Proper tools, materials and patient execution are key to successfully repairing pool pipe leaks. Don’t delay repairs, as minor problems can worsen exponentially if ignored. With the proper process, anyone can fix common plumbing issues and enjoy their pool again!
Different Types Of Pool Pipe Materials
The most common type of material used for pool piping systems is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which accounts for the vast majority of residential installations. PVC is affordable, durable, and chemically resistant, making it well-suited for pool pipes that will be buried underground.
It is available in various schedules, with Schedule 40 being the thickest and most rigid. Another option is chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), a variation better suited for hotter climates as it has increased temperature resistance over standard PVC.
For commercial or high-end swimming pools, fibreglass may be used, which offers additional strength but at a higher cost. More rarely, copper, stainless steel, or polypropylene pipes have niche applications in unique setups or for replacing older pipe materials that are no longer manufactured.
The type of material should match what your existing plumbing is made of to ensure compatibility when cutting in new piping sections or fittings. Understanding the material properties can also aid in selecting the best glues, cements or repair methods.
Prevention And Maintenance Tips
The best approach is to prevent leaks from occurring in the first place through regular maintenance and inspection of your pool’s plumbing system. Carefully examine all exposed pipes and connections monthly for any signs of cracks, splitting, damp spots, or corroded areas.
Pay close attention to where pipes enter fittings and how they lay across concrete. Provide proper support if movement is detected. Also, mark your calendar to replace rubber washers, o-rings, and gaskets every 1-2 years before they dry out and become brittle.
Catching small issues early can save time and money by preventing major repairs or full replacements.
Seal The Leaks, Preserve The Bliss
With the right tools and materials and following the steps outlined in this guide, you should feel confident finding and fixing common leaks in pool plumbing systems. Preventing issues through regular maintenance will save you repairs down the road.
However, if a leak has you stumped or a more complex problem arises, don’t hesitate to contact the pool pipe experts. WP Plumbing in Melbourne has decades of experience solving pipe repairs, burst pipes, and replacements.
Whether a simple gasket replacement or a full re-pipe of your system, our licensed technicians can handle any job quickly and professionally. Contact WP Plumbing in Melbourne today to schedule an appointment. Your pool pipes will thank you!