Although inflatable plugs are extremely convenient and versatile, they’re also less durable than other types of plugs. To keep them in proper working order and avoid unnecessary replacement it is important to use them correctly. Be careful to inflate the plugs only to the specified PSI (pounds per square inch) designated for each one. While it may be tempting to overfill a plug to try to fill a slightly larger line, you’ll save money in the long run by using the appropriate plug for the pipe being tested. The best way to ensure proper inflation pressure is to use a hand pump with an attached gauge. Since not all sizes have the same required inflation pressure, we’re provided a chart below for easy reference:
Customer told us that pool leaked down to 1” above the skimmer pretty quickly, then seemed to hold at that level.
When we arrived at the job site we started our Leakalyzer test with the pump on which confirmed the water loss. After turning the pump off and marking the current test, we could see that the slope of the line continued to be the same as during the pump off test. Because of this we suspected a shell leak. Our observations of the pool equipment and plumbing system validated that the plumbing didn’t appear to be the problem.
Since a shell leak was suspected we began systematically dye testing the pool from the deck. By doing so we were able to find a crack in the skimmer bowl at the same level the customer indicated the pool water level held at. The size of the crack seemed consistent with what the customer and Leakalyzer indicated the water loss would be.
We then patched the skimmer with the Leakmaster Pool Glue Kit, which is adheres very well to the skimmer bowl and works underwater. After the patch we ran another Leakalyzer test to verify that the pool had stopped leaking. Although not as much as the first time, the test still showed water loss that was more than estimated evaporation.
With additional dye testing we quickly found another small leak in opposite skimmer. That leak was patched with Quick Set Putty.
We ran yet another Leakalyzer test and found the pool was losing less water than before, but still losing.
The digitalization and resulting miniaturization of cameras over the past years has led to a proliferation of inspection cameras for all types of uses. There is great benefit to being able to “get into” and see areas that have previously been inaccessible. Pipe inspection has been a major area of application and product development for this technology.
Naturally, because of the prevalence of underground plumbing, there is great interest and intrigue in applying this technology to the swimming pool industry. Indeed, an inspection camera may prove to be an important part of your equipment arsenal for finding leaks and other related problems. As you consider an investment in the wide range of options available, it’s important to consider the unique characteristics of pool plumbing and the types of problems you’re looking for, as well as establish a clear expectation of the real benefit and usefulness they will provide to your business.
One Length Does Not Fit All
Many leak problems can be identified within the first several feet on an access point. In these situations, affordable fiber optic technology can be applied to the problem. The Rigid Inspection Scope comes with a 3 foot flexible extension that allows you to get into easy to access small openings. Range can be extended with optional 3 foot extension (providing up to 6 feet of reach). Inspection Scopes are great for looking inside return fittings, skimmer throats, and light niches without having to get into the pool. Extension tubing for dye testers can be taped to the side of the extension with the tip extending in front of the camera in order to dye test in these hard to reach spots.
If you want to go further than the first several feet into a pipe you will have to add a Camera/Push Rod system to the Inspection Scope. These robust systems have become a staple item in the plumbing, sewer, and municipal industries. Their use on swimming pool plumbing, however, offers certain challenges.
Pool Plumbing: A World of Small Pipes and Lots of Corners
The first thing to consider about pool plumbing is that relatively speaking (at least in terms of where most pipe inspection cameras are used), it is on the very smallest end of range most cameras can be used on. Pushing a camera into this small pipe, especially around elbows and T’s presents problems. Bruce Roache of CT says that in 1 1/2″ plumbing his Rigid Micro Camera is “great on straight runs and can reliably get through the first 90 degree bend, but it has been so difficult to get past a second 90 degree corner that I don’t do it anymore for fear of getting it stuck or damaging it as I pull it out.” Christine Pearson of Excaliber Leak Detection in MD uses her Rigid Nano extensively and can get it through more than one elbow. But she admits that even this device can be damaged when pushed too far. “If you are hoping a pipe camera will enable you to quickly inspect an entire plumbing system you will be disappointed. A camera won’t replace other methods of detecting and locating leaks in the plumbing. But, if you want clear evidence of problems in the areas it can reach, the images and video it provides can’t be beat.” Actually being able to see things like big leaks, obstructions in the line, and crushed pipe can help determine the cause and repairability of the problem, and communicate clearly with the customer.
While small PVC pipes with elbows and T’s can pose problems, straight runs and flex-pipe are prime applications for a Camera/Push rod system. “It is awesome in flex-pipe,” says Roache. “Although I think flex-pipe is terrible, it is very common in my area. Nothing is more convincing to a customer, pool builder, or building inspector than a live video image of the leak, the problem, or the building code pass/ fail issue!”
“We use it extensively on flex-pipe,” says Christine. “It’s especially useful on skimmer lines where we can show evidence of the damage chlorine tablets in the skimmer basket produce, or even see bubbles being pulled through a leak while the pump is on.”
You Found the Leak, Now Where is the Camera?
Once a problem has been found with a camera, determining its location on the deck so a repair can be made is the next step. Depending on how far in you’ve pushed the camera, and your knowledge of where the lines run, you may be able to estimate the location. Otherwise, you’re going to need to invest in one more piece of equipment. A line locator detects a radio frequency signal emitted by a transmitter built into the camera head. The line locator will enable you to determine location, direction of run, and depth of the pipe. These devices can also detect signals in conductive pipes, tracer wires, electrical lines, or battery operated transmitters that aren’t incorporated with the cameras. For many pool leak specialists, adding a camera and line locator to their tool arsenal has been the catalyst to expanding their business into other lucrative location/inspection markets.
A Note on Purchasing Equipment
Once you have decided whether an inspection camera and scope system is a worthwhile investment, there are a lot of options out there for purchasing . A quick search on the internet will reveal a multitude of devices at all levels of sophistication, quality and country of manufacture. Because swimming pool use can be hard on cameras (pushing and pulling them through sharp 90’s) don’t compromise on quality. We distribute Rigid products because we feel most comfortable with their experience and knowledge of the swimming pool industry. Rigid has also proven to be responsive when repairs are needed. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
No information was provided prior to arriving at the job site, but when we arrived the water level was down to bottom of the skimmers and the customer confirmed that the water leaked down to that point and then stopped. A Leakalyzer test confirmed the water level had settled and was not dropping any farther. We established some suspect areas then put a hose in to fill the pool back up while we headed to our next job. We came back later once the water level was back up to finish the leak detection.
When we returned to the job site, we confirmed the pool was indeed leaking with the Leakalyzer, then started to dye test the suspected areas along where the water line had settled. Not all suspected areas drew dye when the water level was raised, but we did locate two leaks in the corners where grout was gone from the tile line. We repaired the leaking areas with Quick Set Putty, then confirmed that the leaking areas were no longer drawing dye and that the pool water level had stabilized with the Leakalyzer.
It’s extremely helpful to know if the water level stops dropping at a certain point.
Pool water level needs to be at normal operating level to efficiently locate leaks.
Some leak detections are very straight forward!
Job also led to a sale of upgrades in pool filter.
Every spring we get a rush of equipment sent back to our shop for repair before the summer pool season. What’s the best way to avoid this hassle? Proper storage between jobs! All of the electronic equipment we sell operates best if it’s able to completely dry out as quickly as possible after use. So, how do you make that happen while running between jobs all day? Check out this clever truck setup that allows the Leakalyzer to drain and dry out safely before putting it back in its case.
This simple to use kit enables you to quickly determine if a section of plumbing is leaking. Block off all but one opening of the line to be tested with the one-sized-fits-all cones that friction fit into any pipe or fitting up to 2”. In the remaining opening use the cone with a hole through it. Now dye test just outside this hole . . . if there is a leak in the line, dye will be visibly drawn into the hole. Use to test returns, jet lines, floor cleaning systems, spa therapy jets and double bottom drains.
Six total cones, including the one with the hole, nest conveniently into a compact stack.
Available from Anderson Manufacturing Company at their website www.leaktools.com or call 800-348-1316
When it comes those tough underground plumbing leaks, electronic listening devices are the backbone of the leak detection industry. While there are other methods the most reliable and consistent method is to make a noise at the leak with pressurized air escaping into water saturated soil, then listen for where the noise is coming from. This noise can sometimes be picked up by just an open ear but often a listening device is needed to help amplify the sound and filter out other noises to focus in on leak sound and pinpoint location.
Choosing the right listening device for your company is an important decision. When researching a product purchase, similar to listening for a leak, there can be a lot of “noise” to sift through. Here at Anderson Manufacturing we have combined research and testing with the experience of hundreds of pool leak detection professionals to find and keep the best option for a swimming pool leak listening device.
While there are many factors to think about such as cost, dependability and service after the sale. There are also some more technical criteria to consider when looking at purchasing a swimming pool leak listening device. Since listening devices range from your standard geophones to sophisticated technology here are some tips for what criteria to look at.
Important criteria to consider when comparing listening devices:
Sensitivity – how well the device amplifies sounds from the transmitting material
Frequency Range – how broadly the device can hear all the sounds created by a leak
Filtering – how effectively the device can filter out background noise enabling you to focus on a leak sound
The standard ground microphones that come with Fisher’s XLT17 and the XLT30H listening devices, use piezoelectric microphones because these are known to be the best type of microphone to use in situations where sounds are being picked up from liquids or solids. Virtually every company that makes serious equipment for locating underground plumbing leaks for municipal work incorporates piezoelectric technology. Accessing the technological knowledge of those who have experience in this area is one reason we have chosen to work with Fisher and utilize their products. This type of equipment requires more specialized expertise than standard microphone amplification (that used for music/voice etc.).
In practice you will find that sensitivity by itself however is not the only important performance criteria. Most any device will be able to amplify a sound to the point that it will hurt your ears. What’s more important is hearing the right sound and distinguishing it from background noise. That’s where the other two important criteria come into play.
Both pressurized underground plumbing leaks and static shell leaks in the pool make noises in a wide range of frequencies depending on a variety of conditions. We like to think of the sounds a leak makes in the same way we do instruments in an orchestra. You want to be able to hear everything from the shrillest piccolo to the deepest tuba. Although every leak is different, as general rule underground plumbing leaks make sounds in the lower frequency ranges while static leaks in the shell of the pool are in the higher range. If your listening device doesn’t pick up sounds at the top or bottom of this range you will be missing the fullness of the sound a leak makes or you may miss it altogether. Both the Fisher XLT17 and XLT30H pick up sounds in a frequency range of 20Hz to 6000Hz. In addition, the XLT30H includes a switch that enables the unit to work effectively both when sounds are in the low range (for underground leaks picked up by the Bigfoot microphone) and the higher ranges (for underwater leaks picked up by the hydrophone).
The final performance criteria, and what we consider to be the most important for swimming pool applications, is an area where Fisher devices particularly shine over all others we have researched. A listening devices filter allows you to specifically highlight (or eliminate) a specific range of sounds. Consider for instance that we only wanted to hear the violins in the orchestra of leak sounds we imagined above. Filtering is important because the devices are so sensitive that we will likely hear other sounds around the pool (it always seems as though the next door neighbor want to mow their grass when you’re trying to find a leak!). The filter helps us zero in on the leak sound without being distracted by the background noise. Additionally, different ranges of sound behave differently underground or underwater. Low frequency sounds travel much further than high frequency sounds. By selecting high frequency sounds once a leak sound has been identified the frequency filter can help in pinpointing leaks to a small area.
Fisher devices provide a wide range of filtering options to address most any scenario. The Band Pass filter allows selection of a narrow band of frequency anywhere in the range of sound. The Hi Pass filter focuses high frequency sounds providing adjustment of the low end of this range. The Low Pass filter does the opposite – focusing on the low end and providing an adjustable high end.. The XLT30H also includes a Notch Filter that allows the elimination of a specific frequency range (for instance to minimize the “hum” of a nearby air-conditioner) and can be used at the same time as the other filters.
Another noise minimizing feature available on Fisher devices is especially important when the unit is used for listening to pipes in the ground. The Bigfoot muffler utilized by Fisher to minimize outside noises transmitted through the air is the best we’ve seen. This rubber boot deadens outside noises preventing them from reaching the sensitive piezoelectric microphone which makes direct contact with the pool deck or ground through a heavy aluminum foot.
Ultimately, we are convinced, that Fisher Listening Devices as sold by Anderson Manufacturing Co. are the most technologically advanced, well rounded tool for all types of swimming pool acoustical leak location They have been continually improved through the years and currently represent the best package for addressing pool leak problems in both the plumbing and shell. We back our belief with the evidence of thousands of successful customers and a satisfaction guarantee that promises your money back if you are not satisfied with their performance.
If you have made it this far through this you have taken in a lot of information, hopefully it has been helpful in making decisions that will affect your leak detection success. Remember you can always call and talk through the buying process or for technical help regarding a leak or leak detection equipment. Thanks for reading!
Trade show season is here and to help you get ready for it Aqua Magazine put out an article titled Tips for a Better Trade Show. We couldn’t help but notice the nice picture of Anderson Manufacturing’s Lance Anderson in the booth talking over retail products with a customer.
In the post Ted Lawrence highlights tips from good notetaking to beating the traffic. Much of his article, however, was directed towards finding new products. While lots of our time, energy and promotion is spent on the leak detection equipment side of things we have many innovative and time tested leak detection and repair products that make great retail intems. Here is a highlight of a few retail items that you could sell to customers or stock your service crews with:
This dye tester is a crucial tool in leak detection both for the experienced leak detection crew or the homeowner that wants to try to locate themselves. It is a low cost but high value product that can move on a retail floor. Try the new florescent if you haven’t used it before.
Fast Curing, two part epoxy in a convenient single stick format. Quick set putty is great for cracked skimmers, cracked in the pool shell and has thousands of applications outside of the pool as well making it a desirable purchase.
We often get asked from current users of LeakTrac 2100 or 2200 units about the differences in the new LeakTrac 2400. The new device operates in a very familiar way yet offers a number of advantages which are the result the more robust, energy efficient, and feature rich digital circuitry.
Here’s what’s new:
1. Touch pad controls will reduce problems related to corrosion build-up on knob contacts.
2. Digitally controlled speaker enables pitch variation as well as click rate variation when you’re zeroing in on a leak. In addition to helping to pinpoint problems this feature also enable you to perform Jimi Hendrix-like LeakTrac solos when the audience demands.
3. The new unit uses a more robust and conventional wireless frequency (2.4 Ghz) for communication between the Booster and the SPU. This change will be especially important to our international customers who can now be assured that the unit conforms to international wireless standards.
4. The Power requirement of the Booster has been reduced from sixteen to eight AA batteries. These batteries can be more easily changed with brass knobs on the bottom of the unit rather than the screws on older units that were prone to stripping.
5. The SPU now uses 2 AA batteries which can be easily replaced by opening a snap-on access panel. No more awkward dis-assembly of the entire unit in order to replace batteries. One supply of AA batteries will keep you prepared to replenish both the Booster and the SPU.
Overall the LT400 provides the same accurate and dependable results our customers have come to rely on over the last 20 years to help build their leak detection businesses and find leaks in vinyl liners.
Even though we stay busy making, selling and servicing equipment and supplies for the trade we make sure to regularly get into the field and find leaks to stay sharp and test products. Just recently we were called by a local pool professional who had a customer with an elusive leak and a long history of water loss in their pool. Two companies had been out before us with no success so we knew we were in for a challenge.
Background information from the customer:
Water Loss dates back several years
New liner installed last summer. Light was abandoned.
Customer was suspicious of steps but said it had been thoroughly dye tested with no results.
Was losing at least an inch per day and pool owner revealed it had lost 3/4″ in the 14 hours prior to our visit.
Previous companies had done pressure tests and everything passed as leak free.
The first task for us was to gather our own information so the Leakalyzer was set up promptly upon arrival. The Leakalyzer is able to measure water loss to the 10,000th of an inch. It quickly (5 mins) confirmed that we were losing an inch or more of water per day. The initial test was done with the pump on – the way the pool was when we arrived. We then did another test with the pump off. The leak was consistent regardless of whether the pump was running or not. Since we were losing an inch or more per day we knew we were looking for a significant leak. Our calculations brought us to around a quart per minute.
The next step was to dye test the fitting and stair gaskets then get the LeakTrac going. A Quick 10 minute sweep of the pool with The LeakTrac confirmed there were no leaks in the new liner. All the gaskets passed their dye tests.
Even though a pressure test had been performed by others we wanted to do our own to make sure. We had a hunch it was the main drain line so we started there and did an air lock test. It held right at 4.5 pounds of pressure (generated from 8 feet of water column). We then tested the skimmer and return lines and they held pressure too.
Now with all the lines plugged the Leakalyzer was still showing us that the pool was loosing over an inch per day. The leak seemed be someplace other than the plumbing and the liner.
We decided at that point to check with the LeakTrac one more time before getting into the pool to dye test the main drain. As we more thoroughly swept the pool one return was screaming louder than the others. The return in the stairs. This shouldn’t be since the stair return doesn’t have screws penetrating through the fitting and it currently had a nylon plug in it eliminating any distracting connection to ground through the equipment. We shouldn’t be getting a signal here but we were. The signal was not around the fitting but right next to the plug.
A dye test confirmed that water was escaping right past the plug that was sealing the threads.
We needed a mirror to fully see the problem when the plug was removed. Inside the top of the fitting was a small crack that was pulling a lot of dye.
The customer was happy we had finally found the problem.
Quick Notes / reminders from the job:
Following a systematic process of elimination helped zero in on the problem.
Leakalyzer helped us understand the true nature of the problem and confirm we stopped the leak once fixed.
LeakTrac helped us confirm the liner was OK and pinpointed the leak at the stair fitting.