Pool leak Episode II


I have previously posted about a possible pool leak, and a few posters were extremely helpful, so I figure I will post epsiode II here.
To recap...I have recently purchased a property and the in ground pool appears to be leaking. The water sits at the level of the skimmer lip, and if I fill up a few inches, the water will slowing drop to the skimmer lip elevation overnight. It will then stay at that level without dropping any further.
The main drain at the bottom and the skimmer drain line are independent PVC lines that emerge from the foundation about thirty feet away, each has a shut off valve there and then merged to go inside the pool filter and then the pool heater then return to the pool via two separate lines and the filtered water are discharged via four separate jets in the pool.
I hired a pool leak detection expert to investigate. By shutting off the skimmer line and the main drain line independently and did some visual examination into the first six inches or so of skimmer line via some tiny mirror, he told me the leak is not in the skimmer line, the valve is ok, and it is having suction.
He suspect the problem is in the main drain since it seems to be sucking air sometimes. He further speculates that the leak is in the elbow where the main drain is near the surface, causing the pool water to drop to that level so as to maintain hydrostatic pressure. The problem is locating where that elbow is.
What makes this tricky is that the house is a "U" shaped configuration with the pool in the middle of the "U". This means there are rooms on three sides of the house, Between the pool and the filter on the outside is about ten feet of pavers sitting on 4" reinforced concrete slab, then about fifteen feet of the house's east wing which is also sitting on a 8" thick reinforced concrete slab with a footing on each end. Not knowing exactly where the leak is makes the repair very tricky.
The leak detection expert told me he is fairly certain they would have build it "this way" or "that way" and most likely the elbow is around "here" but if not "there". Most of the time the leak is in the albow and never along a pipe, so he advised that I hire him to fix the leak by digging up the paver bricks and jack hammer the concrete slab.
I am a bit concerned about putting a hole in the slab without really knowing where the leak is. He said he is 80 to 90 percent sure he is right on. I said I thought his service is to locate a leak not just guess at it, he says that's the best they can do and he is confident.
My question is therefore...(1) there is no technology to pin point the location? I remember plumbers have cameras to send down the line, can't they use a camera to send back through the filter valve and locate the leak and then try to measure it? (2) Am I right in being concerned about breaking slabs when I have no idea where the leak is?
Thanks,
MC
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wrote:

Easy way to test that is turn off the skimmer, run the system, pulling from the drain only and see if the water level still drops. With suction on that line you may see bubbles but the water will not be getting out.
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Miami,
Have you tried finding any engineering drawings of your pool. Maybe the installer has some? Maybe the Dept of Pools ;) at the local town hall.
Dave M.
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I have a blueprint of my pool the piping is just a common sense diagram to get water from A to B no measurements. The bad part there is probably ten ways to pipe it.
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I'm not in the business but my guess is that even if you got a camera at the point of the leak, unless the pipes are completely undone, you're not going to see the leak.
This is water under pressure, you only need a small hole to lose a lot of water.
Lifting pavers is easy. You can pry them up with something like a screwdriver, or buy a tool for it. I'd do that part myself.
Well, I'd rent the jackhammer too. No big deal.
A pool is something like a boat. A boat is a hole in the water you throw money into. With the pool, you just throw the money right in the water.
Our pool is above ground. It drained completely this winter. I'll be patching the liner, I suspect chipmuncks or some other varmint is tunneling under there.
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wrote:

I can only guess. South Florida pool. Water table already below sea level. Is the aquifer affecting this pool you bought?
Andrew may have lifted plenty of pools up; thus a pipe leak. Before you bought the house, of course.
Find those best qualified to decide the merits of this. -- Oren
"If things get any worse, I'll have to ask you to stop helping me."
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If it draws air at some times, a camera could look for bubbles to find the leak.
There are companies that somehow clean out iron water pipes, then spray some kind of plastic on the inside to coat them and make them last longer. Perhaps a similar technology could seal your leak?
Bob
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It's a big jump, but, you must TRUST the contractor. I'm sure after meeting with you and talking to you he is aware of your concerns and prays nothing will go wrong. Be prepared, it takes a good sized hole to make a small repair.
Bill
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MiamiCuse wrote:

I know squat about pools. But the leaked water has to be going SOMEWHERE.
Have you noticed any new puddles, er, ponds?
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I answered you once before and you didn't take the time to answer me back or answer the questions you asked. You're on your own now. Good luck.
Steve
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Steve:
Yes I remember your responses. We went back and forth a few times and I believe you said I needed to hire a pro to find the leak which is exactly what I did. I am now dealing with his finding which is a bit confusing as well. In any event thanks for your advise.
MC
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Did you ask about sending a Camera down the pipes ? Maybe you should get some other opinions, other leak detectors. Have you talked to any pool contractors or got there advice? Dose the pool have an automatic drain, Mine is just a 1/2" PVC pipe sticking up in the skimmer with an open end water runs in that and no idea wear it ends up. Also I would be very concerned about wear the water is going , it can't be good could undermine something. How come this was not disclosed at closing? The bad part is it's going to be costly, even more so if you jus start digging aimlessly, but that might be your only choice. The only Idea I can suggest is plug all the jet outlets skimmer outlet then fill the pool to make sure the pool is not leaking itself. There is a wide variety of deferent type plugs that will do the job contact a plumbing contractor.
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I am calling around for other leak detection services to see if they can do better. I already paid this guy $325 for his leak detection. He said it is definitely the main drain line leaking at an elbow at the same elevation as the skimmer lid. He inspected the skimmer opening and determined no leak is there. I do not believe he inspected the return line. I believe he concluded the main drain line is leaking because of:
- When the skimmer line valve is shut off and the main drain line valve is opened, the pump is getting water and air. - When the skimmer line valve is opened and the main drain line valve is shut off, the pump is getting water and no air. - The water stopped leaking at the skimmer opening level he concluded was a coincidence the skimmer line is not leaking but the main drain comes up with a 90 degree elbow somewhere at the same elevation may be broken there.
This is not disclosed by the seller. However I believe this is not deliberate. The seller is an elderly couple in their 80s and not really using the facility much and are in nursing home at the time of closing.
I went back and look at the inspection report and noticed the inspection company reported on the water's clarity, pool filter and pump operation, timer and pool light, but no leak or pool heater is inspected, and stated explicitely.
MC
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Your in a tuff spot. If you can pin point the leak that's will reduce the repair cost . So maybe a little more cost up front will save a lot more in the end. Like I say ask them up front if they can send a camera down . Anyway good luck post what happens.
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"MiamiCuse" wrote

I don't think you got a real expert.
Around here, there's this company my neighbor hired. I know I've read they did a lot of work for the city also. Maybe they have a franchise in your area. But, then maybe you already hired these people. http://www.americanleakdetection.com /
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I will check them out and see if they can help me. Thanks!
MC
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MiamiCuse writes:

Sometimes? All pumps appear to suck air sometimes.

Absurd conclusion. This could just as well be a crack in your shell underneath the waterline tile.
Ask this "contractor" if he'll guarantee to fix the leak for whatever number of dollars, and then don't pay him until it is proved fixed.
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