Is Your Pool Losing Water? Mine Was!

Don’t get me wrong. I love my pool. On a sweltering afternoon, there’s no place I’d rather be. Recently, though, I was ready to just truck in the dirt and turn it into a big planter.

It all started at the end of last summer. I found myself needing to add water to the pool on a daily basis because otherwise the level would drop beneath the skimmer intakes and too much air entered the pump system. I have a leak, I told my pool guy. Evaporation, he said. I wasn’t buying it.

Then the pool was closed for the season. We use a solid pool cover with an automatic pump to remove the accumulated rain and melted snow.

By the time the pool was reopened, there wasn’t much water left in it. I have a leak in the pool, I said again. No, the pool maven said. You probably have a hole in the pool cover and the pump was pumping out the water from inside the pool. I wasn’t buying it.

We refill the pool, turn on the equipment and set up the poolbot, an automatic floor vacuum. After several days, I find the pool needing water again on a daily basis. Pool guy replaces some “leaky” valves on the pool pump. But the water level still goes down daily. He looks and finds nothing wrong. Now he thinks I’m just a cranky customer. And maybe I am. But I’m still convinced there’s something wrong.

Then the water level really goes down: the poolbot line has sprung a leak so we shut it down. By now I have my ex husband, my contractor and all my friends and family offering up advice.

Get rid of the poolbot, they say. The wrong pipe was installed and it’s always going to leak. That’s been your problem all along. So, we fix the break in the line and plan to jackhammer up my beautiful stone pooldeck after the season to reinstall new hard pipe.

But the pool continues to lose water, about an inch per day.

Then, early one morning, I see that the water level is down about a foot and we rush out to find that a plug has failed on the water heater and water is just gushing out. A coincidence? Maybe. We fix the plug. But that doesn’t fix the daily water loss.

This is where I’m ready to throw in the towel, excuse the pun. There’ve been too many problems with this pool, and it isn’t even July 4th yet. I start each morning with a call to my pool guy who I’m sure is ducking me. But I know there’s something else wrong.

The pool guy is now talking about bringing in a diver, and all sorts of major and costly pool projects. But I keep telling him to check the left skimmer basket, which seems overly active to me. He sees nothing wrong but checks anyway.

In his hand is a 79 cent bottle of blue food coloring, which he proceeds to squeeze out in drops next to the pool wall tiles near the skimmer. He uses it to follow the water current. If there’s no leak, the dye remains where he put it. But if there’s a leak…I found it! he says. And he shows me: there’s a small hole between the pool tiles and when he squirts out some dye near it, the water is just sucked out of that hole so fast you can barely see the dye go in. In about 5 minutes, he’s used 50 cents worth of putty to plug the hole.

You guessed it: no more leaks.

So what’s the lesson for all of us homeowners? We should use our common sense when we suspect a problem and not let the experts lead us to a costly and possibly unnecessary solution.