Pool Troubleshooting

The Complete Guide to Pool Leak Detection

Have you noticed your swimming pool beginning to waste more water than usual? Here’s your complete guide to pool leak detection and how to prevent it.




By Allen Hayward

If you want to keep your swimming pool clean and sanitary, then a good pool cover is essential. A pool cover serves as a barrier between the water underneath and the debris outside. It’ll prevent animals, insects, children, and other unwanted guests from getting into your pool and having an accident.

The best type of pool cover is an automatic pool cover. Although it is priced higher than a manual pool cover, you won’t have to strain yourself when removing the cover and putting it back on. Of course, automatic pool covers have their advantages and disadvantages when compared to regular pool covers. Let’s explore them further so that you can better understand what these covers are all about.

Overview of Swimming Pool Covers

In some jurisdictions, a pool owner is legally required to have a fence installed around their swimming pool. An automatic pool cover is almost like a fence around your pool, except that it is a horizontal fence instead of a vertical fence. In addition, this is a fence which moves and can be controlled with a remote-control device.

Automatic pool covers work almost the same as flagpoles and cranes because they use cables and pulleys. They also use tracks, reels, and a motor to supply power for the automated movement of the cover.

Two straight tracks with cables (or ropes) running through them can be found across the edges of the swimming pool. They’re attached to two reels which support their movement.

As the cover is opened, it unwinds the smaller reel while winding the main cover reel. This is how the cover gets pulled back. As you go to put the cover back on the pool, this process all happens in reverse by winding the smaller reel and unwinding the main cover reel.

The motor is what automates the movement. When you push the proper button, the motor causes the reels to turn on their own. It is much easier than manually cranking it open, right?

Pool Cover Aesthetics

Automatic pool cover installations require someone who is knowledgeable and experienced. There are a lot of electronic elements involved, so this is not some DIY project that you can simply learn by doing. Plus, there are many ways to go about the installation. They depend on your budget, objective, and current pool setup. Therefore, don’t do the installation yourself unless you know what you’re doing.

There are plenty of experienced contractors you could hire to perform the installation. As they’re installing the tracks and reel system, you can request for these components to be concealed or to be left out in the open. Again, it depends on your budget and the visual appeal you’re going for with your swimming pool.

The Good and Bad

Modern society is becoming more automated each day. Everything is about making things easier and more convenient for people. Grocery stores now have self-checkout registers and videos are now purchased or rented over the internet through digital streaming.

But like anything else, automation has its ups and downs. The same applies to automated pool covers.


It is fascinating to watch an automated pool cover open and close over your pool. But here are the real benefits of this:


Automatic pool covers are sturdy and much better at keeping out unwanted elements and people from your pool. They are also great at trapping heat and water in your pool too. Thanks to their heavy vinyl material, most accidents can be prevented. Plus, a reasonable amount of weight can be supported.

The American Society of Testing and Materials has set a safety standard which requires pool covers to support a minimum of 485 pounds of weight for every 5 square feet of pool space. This is the average weight of a child and two adults.

Use a pool cover pump and cover together to stop excessive water buildup in your pool and to increase safety for the people who use the pool.

Save Heat 

The open-air absorbs most of the heat from the pool. But if you block the open air from the water with the pool cover, the heat stays trapped in the pool. Then you can enjoy more warmth when you’re finally ready to get into the water.

The cover also prevents pool water from evaporating, so you won’t need to add as much sanitizing chemicals to balance the water out.

Easier to Keep Water Clean 

Automatic pool covers prevent debris and leaves from blowing into your pool water. That means you won’t need to do much skimming at all.

Keep Out Rain 

Rain will naturally fall onto your pool water if there is no cover to block it. Automatic pool covers can prevent most unexpected downpours from adding rainwater to your pool. Rain, of course, contains a lot of pollutants, dust, dirt, and other small particles of debris that are collected while falling from the clouds.

If you live in a populated location, you can expect a lot of acid rain to fall down from the sky. This type of rain will increase the acidity level of your pool water. Because of this, you’ll need to spend too much money and time balancing out the water and removing the debris from it. Save yourself a lot of aggravation by purchasing an automatic pool cover instead.


So, what could the disadvantages of an automatic pool cover possibly be?


A lot of automatic pool covers are on the pricey side. You can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 for the cover and installation costs. The typical automatic cover lasts between 2 to 5 years. That means you’ll have long-term maintenance expenses in terms of replacing and fixing components of the cover when they go bad. This adds between $2,000 and $4,000 more in expenses.

Not Winter Friendly 

Automatic pool covers are not too friendly to snow and ice. These natural elements add a lot of weight to the cover, which they can’t always support. To combat this issue, you’d have to keep your automatic cover open throughout the winter and simply apply a standard security cover over your pool water.

Make the Right Choice for an Inground Pool Covers

Your budget and preferences will determine which automatic pool cover you select. Most automatic pool covers have the same aesthetics and function in the same way. Just go with the most affordable option from a reputable supplier, and you should be okay. If you can push a button to open and close your pool cover, then it is all that matters. This will give you a lot of convenience by reducing your maintenance costs and efforts considerably.

Your swimming pool is filled with water. Because of this, a leak may occur just about anywhere on the interior or exterior of your pool. Don’t always assume that leaks come from your pool walls. You should first check your chlorinator, heater, filter, pump, and other pool accessories to see if they’re responsible for the leak.

As for inground swimming pools, they can still leak if they have an underground pipe that is cracked. In this case, you’ll need a professional pool technician to test the piping and see if a crack really does exist in it.

Sometimes evaporation causes a loss of water in pools too. You must make sure that evaporation is not the cause of your water loss. This is the first step.

Detecting Pool Leaks with a Bucket

You’ll need a large black magic marker and a plastic bucket (5-gallon capacity)

Go to the steps of your pool. Put the bucket on the second step and let the water fill the inside of it. You’ll want the water level of the bucket to match the water level of the pool. Make a mark to indicate this level within the bucket, using the black magic marker.

Deactivate your pool pump and all auto-refilling accessories or devices. Let the water sit for 24 hours.

Compare the water levels of the bucket and pool. If there is less water in both, but they’re still at the same water level, then evaporation is the reason for your water loss. On the other hand, if you have less water in the pool than in the bucket, then your pool has a leak.

If you end up having a leak somewhere in your pool, then conduct another bucket test and wait 24 hours. Only this time, make sure you turn on your pump.

If you notice a higher water level in your pool, then the leak is coming from its plumbing somewhere.

Detecting Pool Leaks with Ink

You’ll need a snorkel, red food coloring, and a pair of goggles with anti-fog and anti-leak properties.

Look around the walls of your pool on the outside and see if there is any wetness. If you see wetness, then you must have a leak somewhere in that area of the pool. The height of the leaky area is the current height of the pool water level because the water stopped leaking there. Based on these two factors, you should be able to find where the leak is coming from. Get into the pool and see if you can find the leak from within there.

The red food coloring can help you find the leak. Move to the area in which you suspect the leak to be at. Try to perform slower movements which don’t make the water too wavy. When you approach the wall, squirt a little bit of red food coloring at the possible leaky area. If the leak is present, then observe the red food coloring and watch it flow right into the leaky area of the wall.

If the leak comes from an area of the wall that is underneath the water, use goggles to find it and apply the food coloring the exact same way. Again, move slowly in the water because you don’t want the food coloring to run all over the place.

If you’re unable to detect where your pool leak is coming from, then don’t struggle with this task any further. Take the safer option by calling a professional and letting them deal with it.


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