As a leak detector, you’re always looking for ways to creatively isolate and test different pool elements to make your jobs more efficient. So, if you’ve already got a pool light covered to run the LeakTrac, try this tip to determine if the light is leaking using the Leakalyzer.
Once you arrive to the job and before setting up your LeakTrac, run a Leakalyzer test to establish what the baseline leak is. Then, once your LeakTrac is set up and the light cover is on, run a second test while you’re doing a scan with the LeakTrac. If the test shows less of a loss or no loss, you know to remove the light cover and investigate the light further.
Check out the below Leakalyzer reports to see how this technique worked on a recent job. Even if you don’t have a LeakTrac, the light cover can be purchased individually.
We were called to examine a new build that was losing 4” of water per day. It hadn’t been leaking for the first four days that it was filled but recently started rapidly losing water. When we arrived to the pool the water level was down below the skimmers, but the skimmer bowls were still full of water – indicating that those lines were not leaking.
Suspecting that the problem was in a plumbing line, we did a quick dye test of the returns and cleaner line with the dye testing cones, but they also were not drawing water. Our Leakalyzer test had been running during these initial observations, and indicated a loss of 3.5 inches per day. A quick scan with the LeakTrac showed no leaks in the liner, so it was time to dive down to the main drain. A dye test with the dye testing cones showed that line was the source of our water loss.
We then plugged the main drain lines while we were diving and ran a pressure test from the equipment back to the pool. The water pressure test confirmed the line was leaking, so we then started inducing air for sonic location. It took a while for the air to reach the leak, indicating that the leak wasn’t close to the equipment where the air was being induced. So, we used a hydrophone attached to our XLT30H listening device to start listening along the main drain lines where they ran close to the shell of the pool. We could hear the loud bubbling/gurgling noise of air escaping into water saturated soil near the base of the wall in the middle of the deep end.
Since the main drains were plugged we ran another Leakalyzer test to verify that the rest of the pool shell was not losing water and the main drain line was the only issue.
A main drain leak at the base of the wall is not a repair anyone wants to make, so to verify the sonic leak location we used a tube level. We attached a clear plastic tube to the end of a standard open plug in the main drain. Now, instead the leak draining water from the pool it drained the water in the tube. The tube leaked down to the level of the leak and then stopped. We colored the water in the tube with Leakmaster Fluorescent Dye to be able to clearly see the water level. The water level stopped right at the level that we had identified with the hydrophone.
The crew dug up the leaking plumbing line and found a stake had been driven through the pipe!?!
A hydrophone with digital sound graph is helpful when listening for main drain plumbing leaks through the shell of the pool.
The Leakalyzer helps verify the rest of pool isn’t leaking while pressure testing and pinpointing leaks in plumbing.
A simple tube level can help verify the depth of the leak before digging. Be creative with the materials you have on hand!
As the popularity of no-drain winterizing grows, it’s no surprise that there are new plugs to facilitate this process on the market. To help you understand how to evaluate these options, we set up a simulated pool plumbing system and tested the Duck Plug against our primary competitor’s blow-through plug. The tests were designed to imitate three key elements of the blow-out process and each test was performed using the Big Blue Blower. Check out our findings!
Water Purge Rate
At the initial stages of the line purging process 2-5 lbs of pressure is required to push water from the lines. During this phase Duck Plugs purge lines more than twice as fast as competitor’s plugs because the duck billed valve opens to a much larger unobstructed aperture. The competitor’s plug does not even open at lower pressures. This is especially a problem if using a lower performing blower and/or when some lines start blowing air and back pressure is reduced for the remaining filled lines.
Because Duck Plugs open to a larger aperture, and do so at lower pressures, they also allow substantially more air flow as lines begin blowing air. Air flow is important to clear all water from lines even in low spots. As more lines begin blowing air, the flow rate increases at the main line (trunk) but decreases at each spur (branch). To increase flow at spur lines, Duck Plug valves can be easily blocked with simple paper clasps whereas competitor plugs have no way of being blocked.
The lower flow rate of the competitor’s plug creates a higher back pressure during the clearing stages of the process for a longer period of time. The blower therefore labors harder and longer to clear lines. This will cause the blower to heat up faster and wear out sooner.
A final important difference was noted consistently during testing. The competitor’s plug slowly leaked water back into the purged line after the blower was turned off. This resulted from the conical seal being pulled back into the funnel shaped opening at a slight angle. Duck Plugs, on the other hand, have been tested in thousands of pools over the toughest of winters without any known case of valve failure.
Want to see the Duck Plug in action? Check out this video to see for yourself how Duck Plugs and the Big Blue Blower work together to clear plumbing lines quickly and effectively.
Wrinkles in vinyl liners are a common place to find leaks, but are much more challenging to repair than flat tears or holes. There are several products and techniques that can be used depending on conditions of the leak and wrinkle.
If the wrinkle can’t be pulled out, Flexible Sealer works well on its own. Once you squeeze it out onto the hole, it can be pushed down and spread with your finger to fill in the cavity of the wrinkle. Flexible Sealer will stretch and move with the liner so it lasts longer than more rigid repair materials.
If the liner has become thin or frail and it seems as though the hole or cut will continue to spread, Leakmaster Pool Glue provides an aggressive bond to vinyl and is strong enough to keep the vinyl from pulling farther apart. Pool Glue is only available in white, so it is best used with lighter liners or when aesthetics aren’t as important.
We were at least the second company to take on this job, so the homeowner was concerned about how we could be sure that all the leaks were found. She was also convinced that the leak was in the return side plumbing.
We started pump on/ pump off test with the Leakalyzer and found that the pool was losing more water with the pump running. This usually tells us to suspect pressure side plumbing.
We had two techs on this job, so one tech began running a pressure test while the other ran a vinyl scan with the LeakTrac 2400. The pressure test on the pressure side plumbing held, but the LeakTrac was getting a stronger than normal signal coming from the skimmer. We did a quick dye check of the skimmer and sure enough the bottom of the skimmer bowl was cracked. The movement of water in the skimmer, or possibly even a slight shift in the suction pipe when the pump was running caused more water loss. This was a rare situation where higher water loss with the pump running wasn’t an indication of a pressure side leak.
We repaired the skimmer bowl with Leakmaster Pool Glue and fiberglass mesh, which provides a permanent repair that will be able to handle the movement of the pool as time goes on. We charged the homeowner an additional fee for this repair. Once the repair was done, a final Leakalyzer test confirmed the now repaired skimmer leak was the only leak.
Remember that pump on/pump off tests only provide suspicions of where the problem is. Further tests are needed for confirmation.
LeakTrac can indicate a leak in the skimmer with higher than normal intensity.
Count on your own observations, diligence and reason more than what other people tell you.
Skimmers are one of the more complex plumbing components in the pool and when they leak many contractors default to suggesting a full replacement. But if you have the right repair materials you can offer repair options that will save your customers this big expense and build their trust in you for future jobs. We’ve outlined repair solutions for some of the most common skimmer leaks below.
On concrete pools, epoxy putty is a versatile option for repairing small cracks where the skimmer mouth meets the shell of the pool. Leakmaster Quick Set or Pool Repair putties are a cost-effective, convenient choice, while the color selection and workability of A+B Putty makes a good choice when aesthetics is especially important. Putty is so inexpensive that many leak detectors include putty repair as part of the detection cost. It is, however, a somewhat temporary repair and may have to be replaced seasonally.
A more permanent solution for skimmer mouth issues is to use a foam injection process to seal the cracks and fill voids around the skimmer body. Closed cell urethane foam fills and stabilizes voids around the skimmer body to make sure that further damage doesn’t occur while also sealing leaks around the mouth. Our complete Crack Repair Starter Kit includes everything you need to to do a skimmer injection plus tools to expand into concrete crack injection, or our Skimmer Injection Kit provides the materials you need to inject 2-3 skimmers without an investment in the more expensive tools needed for crack injection.
For a cracked fitting or pipe within the first six inches from the bottom of the skimmer bowl, the Skimmer Saver is a unique and easy option. Part of the popular Fitting Saver line, this device allows water to bypass the cracked area of the plumbing while still maintaining regular circulatory function. It can be used as a permanent repair or as a temporary solution until another repair can be done.
Due to movement in the ground around the pool, skimmer bowls are especially susceptible to cracks that can be particularly challenging to repair. Leakmaster Pool Glue provides a versatile solution. The two-part glue hardens like an epoxy putty but is much more adhesive, meaning it will be able to weather the movement of the pool without coming loose. While it’s able to seal smaller cracks on its own, it can also be used with fiberglass mesh strips for extra reinforcement on large cracks. Check out this video to see how the repair is done.
Anderson Manufacturing was recently featured in an article about leak detection in Pool Pro Magazine. The article explores some of the things to consider when making the decision to add leak detection as a service offering.
We believe that if you’re determined and willing to learn, leak detection can be a profitable and rewarding service offering for your company. As mentioned in the article, all of our training materials are available for free in our Resource Center and we also offer in-house training. If you’re looking to purchase equipment we have pre-set packages to get you started or you can give us a call to put together a custom package that’s perfectly suited to your needs. We value the opportunity to be your partner in leak detection success!
After opening the pool for the summer the customer noticed significant water loss and gave us a call. When we arrived to the job the Leakalyzer reported nearly 6” of water loss per day.
The first two leaks were found right away while we were gathering information. One was clearly visible while we were inspecting a return fitting and the other was found around an equalizer line while we were scanning the pool with a hydrophone. We were able to repair both leaks with Leakmaster Pool Repair Putty.
After the initial leaks were repaired a new Leakalyzer test reported 2.35” of water loss per day. We used dye to find two more leaks – one at another return fitting and one at the tile line.
Once these leaks were repaired the Leakalyzer was still reporting a loss of 1.84” per day. So far we had found and repaired four leaks but were still losing a significant amount of water. We ran a quick pressure test to eliminate the plumbing as the source of the remaining water loss.
Finally a crack in the tile line deeper down in the pool was found and fixed getting us to a no water loss test. Five leaks found, five leaks repaired. Between the multiple Leakalyzer tests, pressure tests, electronic microphone use, extensive dye testing and even diving in freezing spring water this job was more work than most. Once it was all said and done we felt good that we didn’t just solve one of their problems and move along. The property manager was thankful and eager to get us set up as a vendor for all their properties. They even mentioned that we’d done more than other companies had ever done.
Large leaks in concrete pools can be found with a hydrophone, but it may not pick up smaller leaks.
Using the Leakalyzer throughout the job meant we were there longer finding additional leaks, but it saved us from a costly callback.
Extra effort and a job well done gets noticed and helps drive future business.
Did you know that you can crop data in the Leakalyzer reporter program to make your reports clearer and more accurate? While seeing how the graph responds to a variety of environmental factors is helpful most of the time, there may be situations where an otherwise good test goes awry. Say a diver gets in the pool toward the end of a test and causes the water level to rise, but you still want to be able to include the test in a report for the homeowner. To avoid confusion you can remove the affected data from the .TXT file before it uploads into the reporter program. Here’s how it’s done.
Below is a good, clear test but it wasn’t stopped before a diver got in the water at the end of the test to make a repair. You can see the sharp rise and drop toward the end of the test – this is the portion we want to cut out.
The same test in the Leakalyzer reporter program is below. Note that the detail information is inaccurate due to the surge when the diver was in the water.
To create a reporter file without the misleading data at the end you can cut those data points out of the .TXT the Leakalyzer creates to upload the tests. Open the .TXT file, which should look similar to below:
Find the points that correspond with the data you don’t want on the test and simply delete and re-save. The portion below is what was deleted from the test:
Save the new text file and import the updated version into the Leakalyzer Reporter Program. This will produce a much more accurate report of the water loss in the pool. This is what the report looks like after the data was cleaned.
The estimates for inches per day and gallons per day are now more accurate and the graph is more indicative of what was actually happening to the water level of the pool.
There is no question that pinpointing underground pipe leaks in swimming pool plumbing can be tricky, especially when first starting out. While many different scenarios pose many different challenges, generally issues with pinpointing leaks fall into one of two categories:
Not hearing a noise
Hearing a noise in a large area and having trouble narrowing it down
Below are a few solutions to these common issues.
If You Can’t Hear A Noise:
First of all, don’t overlook just turning up the volume on your listening device. This can often be the fix for deeper leaks. However, more often than not adjusting your technique to make the correct leak noise is the solution to the problem. Remember, the noise you’re trying to achieve is a distinct bubbling gurgling noise that comes from air escaping through the leak into water saturated soil. For a refresh of the basics of this technique check out our “Pipe Leak Location” slideshow in the Resource Center. Below are the two most common problems that keep you from making a good leak noise.
1. Air is not reaching the leak
Even though air is being induced into the plumbing, it may not be reaching the leak due to leftover water in the pipe. Especially if the leak is on the bottom of the pipe or in a lower section of the plumbing it can take a long time for the induced air to push all the water out of the leak. Remember that water in the pipe will stay at the bottom of and in low sections of plumkbing. Air can only reach the leak if all of the water above leak level has been purged from the line. Only once you’re sure that air is escaping from the leak is it time to start listening. There are two ways to be more confident that air is reaching the leak:
One way to be sure air is reaching the leak is to remove the lowest plug from the line and completely purge all the water out of the line with air before reinstalling the plug and building air pressure. Since the location of the leak and how the plumbing runs is unknown at this point this can be a time-saving solution.
Another way to make sure air has reached the leak is to slowly push the remaining water out through the leak by inducing air into the line. Once enough water has been pushed out and air starts escaping from the leak you’ll see a dramatic drop in pressure on your pressure gauge. This happens because air escapes from a leak faster than water does, so when the air reaches the leak that cushion of air escapes rapidly . . producing the telltale pressure drop. Once this happens it’s time to start listening. On top of not having to remove and then replace plugs, another benefit to this approach is that you further saturate the soil outside of the leak, producing a better environment for a better noise. For safety, always watch the pressure gauge so that too much pressure doesn’t build up.
2. The soil is not saturated with water
Once you know that air has reached the leak, if you still can’t hear a noise you may be dealing with a situation where the soil is not saturated enough with water. If this is the case there are a few options:
The first option would be to saturate or re-saturate the soil by inducing more water into the pipe and letting it escape out through the leak. Once the soil is saturated, switch back to inducing air and listen with your listening device.
If you are in a situation where there has been washout or the pipe is in gravel-y soil it can be difficult to maintain saturation outside of the pipe. In this case a technique of inducing water from the lower end of the plumbing and air from the high end with the goal of making them meet at the leak can make a great noise. You will need two means of inducing pressure, but this is a technique that can be quite effective. This is often used on big breaks in lines where you can’t even build up pressure. If it is a smaller leak; take extra care to not build up too much pressure, this would be an indication that water is being put into the line faster than it is escaping and that air can no longer reach the leak . If you see the pressure gauge rising reduce the rate of water flow into the line.
If You Hear A Noise Everywhere:
Many times the leak noise is so loud that it can be heard in a large area, so honing in on the precise location is a challenge. Like above, volume controls can help. Just turning the volume down can reduce the area in which you can hear the leak. Also adjusting the amount of air being induced might give us a more distinct or crisp bubble or gurgle sound. If you’re still hearing the noise in a large area, these are some things to keep in mind as you listen:
The noise should be loudest AND clearest where the leak is. As you listen, don’t just look for loudest but also the clearest sound. Just as sound levels soften the further you get away, sounds also begin to muffle and aren’t as clear the further you get from the spot.
Find and mark the outer edges of the sound area. As you move around you will eventually see a drop off in noise volume. Marking these boundaries can give you a good visual of where the center or source of the leak noise is.
Using the Frequency Filters on your XLT30 or XLT17 is one of the best ways to hone in on the leak sound. These filters provide significant help in reducing the search area, minimizing background noise and helping us hear a clear and distinct sound. For more detailed information on using filters check out this blog post.