The customer noticed that a lot of sand was being blown into the pool and that there were bubbles in the air filter, so a problematic skimmer line was isolated and shut off. However, even after closing and plugging that problematic skimmer line there were still sand and bubbles being blown back into the pool.
When we arrived to the pool, the skimmer line was plugged and a Leakalyzer test with the pump off showed no water loss. That made us suspect that at least the portion of the plumbing below water level was good. We then pressure tested the other two skimmer lines to confirm the whole line was good and they held pressure. The main drain was eliminated as the source of a problem without getting in the water through our Leakalyzer test that covered the plumbing below the water line and an air lock test that included the line that was above water level. Eliminating all of these other areas left us to examine the problematic skimmer line as the only potential problem. Upon further inspection, the valve used to shut off the line wasn’t holding, which explains the continued bubbles and sand in the pool even after the line was taken out of use.
To determine the specific location of the leak within the faulty skimmer line, we induced air into water saturated soil to listen with the XLT30. At first the bubbling and gurgling sound of a leak was faint, but just by turning the volume up on the XLT30 we were able to identify a distinct noise where the leak was. It was fairly easy tonarrow the leak location down to a 6’ diameter, but in order to get down to within 2’ of the leak we needed to use the advanced filtering capabilities of the XLT30. Once the high filter was turned on, there was a clear spot with the most distinct noise. As sound waves travel they get more and more muffled, so the sound will be crispest and most distinct right over the leak. The sound did fade a little as time went on, but re-saturating the soil by inducing more water into the line revitalized the sound.
The customer estimated that the skimmer line was 18” to 2’ deep, but when we cut the concrete and dug down to that level there wasn’t any moisture or pipe. To confirm we were in the right place we turned the pressure back on and still heard the leak so kept digging and finally found the broken pipe at just over 4’ deep. Before we replaced the cracked fitting we cut the pipe and pressure tested both ways to assure the rest of the line was good.
Learnings (are there any key takeaways or learnings from how this leak was found?):
- Combining a Leakalyzer test with an air lock test of the main drain can confirm that line is solid without getting into the pool.
- If you notice a once strong leak noise fading, you may just need to add more water to re-saturate the soil.
- Trust your equipment! If you’re confident you heard a leak in a specific place, you may have to dig farther than expected to find it, but it will be there.