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Need A Good Leak Detection Company In San Jose, Ca :(


bejpool
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I have a very unusual pool leak...

Gunite pool was built in 1980, roughly 18k gallons with an attached 300 gallon spa. Two returns in the pool with a skimmer and main drain, the spa section has three returns with a drain. Automatic pool sweep with booster pump, fairly new heater, 1 1/2 year old Pentair Intelliflow pump. Two lights: one in the pool and one in the spa.

So now that you know what type of setup I have, here's the problem: Last year same exact time in December, I noticed that the water level in the pool was dropping a lot quicker than normal. Usually I would only have to fill once a week during the summer. I was losing anywhere from 1" to 1 1/2" a day. It was never a constant rate of loss, and I got the same results whether or not the filter was running. I tried the "bucket test" and sure enough...the bucket level never dropped, but the level outside the bucket dropped an inch. I dye tested around the skimmer throat and skimmer, nada..nothing leaking.

I did some looking of reviews online and came across American Leak Detection. I had the guy come out and paid him $275 to try to find out where the leak was. He actually spent two days trying to find it, but couldn't. He said the pool wasn't leaking, but he suspected that maybe the pool light might be leaking off and on. I should also add that he didn't check the main drain in the pool because he said he didn't think that was a problem. I kinda agree with that because if it was, I think I'd be losing a lot more water than I am due to the pressure at the bottom and I don't get any air in the pump when it's running or anything. He gave me a 90 day warranty and left.

Amazingly enough, the leak stopped right after he left. The entire summer the pool was tight and no noticeable dropping of the level. However a week or two ago, I noticed the same problem: the leak is back. I'm losing anywhere from 1" to 1 3/4" of water a day. Tried the bucket test yesterday around 2PM and at 11:30 that night, the level dropped an inch.

I'm at a loss and don't what to do. Is there anyone around the San Jose area that can recommend a good leak detection company? I just want this @##$# leak fixed without burning a hole in my pocket.

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I should also add that he didn't check the main drain in the pool because he said he didn't think that was a problem.

Translation: I aint gettin in that pool! It's too durn cold...

I think he calls himself: Precision leak detection, guys name is Randy. Tell him what is happening (with the on again, off again leak). It's who we use.

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Based on your description, it sounds like a leak in the shell, or the light conduit. If the leak was in one of the pressure/return lines, you'd notice greater water loss when the pump runs. If it were in one of the suction/skimmer/MD lines, it would tend to leak less with the pump running. The type of leak you describe can be very difficult to locate, as they don't always show signs such as wet spots around the pool, and make no noise like a pressure or suction leak would make. There are a couple of other threads on here about similar leaks where customers are letting the water level drop until it stops, which is the elevation of the leak. Not the best solution, but might save you a bunch of money & water.

It's frustrating that the leak comes & goes. I think this too, points to the shell or conduit, although ALD probably checked the shell carefully. I wish I could offer better direction, but these are tough sometimes.

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I should also add that he didn't check the main drain in the pool because he said he didn't think that was a problem.

Translation: I aint gettin in that pool! It's too durn cold...

I think he calls himself: Precision leak detection, guys name is Randy. Tell him what is happening (with the on again, off again leak). It's who we use.

I called and left a message. I think he's way up in Antioch. Maybe too far for him to come, although his site says he serves the entire Bay area..

I just realized today that my little attached spillover spa is dropping at the same level as the pool. The spa and pool share the same common pump and filter. I never run the main drain in it unless I go for a soak (which has been a couple of months) so that valve's been closed for some time. There is also a light in the spa as well as the pool and they're both tied into the same circuit. I closed the return valve to the spa and marked the level in the spa as well. If it still continues to drop along the same level as the pool, then would you think maybe it's coming through the pool light conduit?

BTW: Thanks for the tips and responding to my post. I really appreciate it.

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I just realized today that my little attached spillover spa is dropping at the same level as the pool.

Unclear, is it dropping at the same rate as the pool? Or does the spa drop to the same level of the pool (raised spa)?

Yes, he comes to San Jose!

Although the lights are on the same circuit, they don't share the same conduit.

If your spa is leaking to the level of the pool, then you don't have a leak there. What is happening is a valve, or a check valve is leaking internally, from the spa back to the pool and you aren't "loosing" any water. But you may have another issue/leak if you need to keep filling the Pool.

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You should get someone to dive down and check the main drain and hydrostat. The main drain can be plugged with a plug that has a small hole and dye tested. The diver can dye test the light conduits and any other underwater areas such as cracks in the plaster, grout or around fittings.

Yeah, that's what the local pool man thinks too. He just stopped by because he knew I was having trouble to see what he could do. He dye tested the lights, return openings and skimmer. He thinks it's more than likely in the main drain...

I'll keep you all updated when the leak tester comes over next week as to what he finds.

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You should get someone to dive down and check the main drain and hydrostat. The main drain can be plugged with a plug that has a small hole and dye tested. The diver can dye test the light conduits and any other underwater areas such as cracks in the plaster, grout or around fittings.

Yeah, that's what the local pool man thinks too. He just stopped by because he knew I was having trouble to see what he could do. He dye tested the lights, return openings and skimmer. He thinks it's more than likely in the main drain...

I'll keep you all updated when the leak tester comes over next week as to what he finds.

Thought I'd give an update on what the leak detection company found: nothing. They pressure tested everything, dove in and checked the drains and lights, dye tested everything, etc..

Strangely enough, the leak has disappeared just like last year. I'm at a complete loss as to what could be going on, as is my pool guy.

Well, as long as the leak is tight until next year same time, I guess..

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If your plumbing holds, then it's probably in the structure, i.e. where things stick through the plaster, like between the return line, and the plaster (outside the pipe), or between the light niche and the plaster or the light conduit. Areas like that, or perhaps a crack in the plaster that you cannot see from standing on the deck. Only problem is that usually those will leak and not stop, but i suppose it's not out of the question to have intermittent leaks in those places.

You don't happen to have a filter with a backwash valve with a line that you can see the end of, to make sure that it's not leaking, do you?

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If your plumbing holds, then it's probably in the structure, i.e. where things stick through the plaster, like between the return line, and the plaster (outside the pipe), or between the light niche and the plaster or the light conduit. Areas like that, or perhaps a crack in the plaster that you cannot see from standing on the deck. Only problem is that usually those will leak and not stop, but i suppose it's not out of the question to have intermittent leaks in those places.

You don't happen to have a filter with a backwash valve with a line that you can see the end of, to make sure that it's not leaking, do you?

There's no question that the pool is old and in dire need of a replaster and retile. Tile is cracked in numerous places above the water line and the plaster's really badly etched and spotted. I keep the pool clean, so there's no debris that could be sticking to a hole or anything on the bottom. Home was purchased almost two years ago from the bank and I seriously doubt the previous owners took care of it. It's going to be a few years before I can afford to get it remodeled.

I have a Sta-Rite System3 cartridge filter setup, so no backwash valve. Everything at the filter pad is nice and tight. It's just really weird that it always seems to leak around this time of year for 2 or 3 weeks then seals itself up.

I guess I'll have to wait for it to start leaking again next year around Christmas... :(

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I would suspect the hydrostatic relief valve. If the main drain gets covered, there can be enough suction to cause the hydrostat to open and it can get stuck due to debris. The valve can then reclose on its own.

This time of year, there are more leaves, which might be covering the main drain. How much suction do you have on the main drain? Do you ever run the vacuum head directly over the main drain? That can also cause it to lift up and leak.

SP1056-hydrstat.jpg

Hydrostat in the open position.

Do you know what your local water table is? If you dug a hole in your backyard, how deep could you go before hitting water?

Another thing to consider is that if the water is heated and uncovered, then it will lose substantially more water due to evaporation when the air temperature is lower.

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I would suspect the hydrostatic relief valve. If the main drain gets covered, there can be enough suction to cause the hydrostat to open and it can get stuck due to debris. The valve can then reclose on its own.

This time of year, there are more leaves, which might be covering the main drain. How much suction do you have on the main drain? Do you ever run the vacuum head directly over the main drain? That can also cause it to lift up and leak.

SP1056-hydrstat.jpg

Hydrostat in the open position.

Do you know what your local water table is? If you dug a hole in your backyard, how deep could you go before hitting water?

Pool is usually pretty clean, even with all the wind and falling leaves around, so there's not a lot that usually gets stuck to the drain cover.(except dog hair...my 2 dogs shed like crazy and it ends up everywhere) I'm running an Intelliflo pump, so it's usually running at a very slow speed...plenty of suction, but not anything like a pump running at full speed.

I *have* noticed however that the drain cover is not screwed down. The screws are broken off. And last year the pool sweep pushed the cover off. I pushed it back on with the vacuum brush, but I haven't had that happen this year.

I'm not really sure about the groundwater situation around here. I think we got a few good days of rain so far, but nothing big.

Is it possible that the hydrostatic valve may be wearing out? I read something somewhere that it should be changed every 5 years in a pool.

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As you can see in the picture, the valve is a pretty simple device. There is a main body and a cover plate. The cover plate slides up and down on a center pole. There is an O-ring at the top of the main body, which you can see in the picture. There is a spring on the center pole that helps keep the plate down.

SP1056-hydrstat.jpg

The valve is threaded into the main drain. When there is more water pressure under the valve than above it, then the valve will open to allow water to go from under the pool into the pool.

Usually, if the valve gets pulled up by suction, it will fall back down and reseal. However, sometimes grit will cause it to not fully seal and there will be a leak. Sometimes it can reseal on its own.

The valve can leak at the threads and it can leak if the O-ring becomes deteriorated. The diver probably should have replaced it while he was down there, especially if it is the original one.

I usually try to keep minimum suction on main drains. Most of the time, I leave them turned off.

The main drain cover needs to be replaced with a new cover and properly secured before anyone uses the pool. A loose, broken or missing cover is a serious safety hazard. The new cover needs to be compliant with the new safety standards.

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