Do You Have a Leak?

The best way to determine if your pool, spa, or fountain is losing water due to a leak--and not natural evaporation--is to perform a bucket test. The following instructions are for a pool but will just as easily work in a spa or a fountain.

Bucket Test

Step 1: Place a 3-5 gallon bucket on the bench or first step of the pool. The water in the pool should reach two-thirds the height of the bucket. Put a stone or large brick in the bucket to hold it down. 

Step 2: Fill the bucket to the level of the water in the pool. In other words, the water inside the bucket should be at the same level as the water outside the bucket.

Step 3: With a piece of tape, mark and date the level of the pool water on the side of the bucket.

Step 4: Run the system on its normal timed cycle and check the pool water level after 24 hours.

If the water in the pool and the water in the bucket have decreased but are at an even level, the water loss is from evaporation only. If the pool water level is lower than the bucket water level, the pool is leaking. Maximum evaporation in the hottest part of summer is a quarter inch per day. Anything more than this indicates a leak.

Other Steps You Can Take

If you have a combination pool/spa, isolate the pool and spa by closing the valves between the two and see which one leaks.

Warning: Never let your pool drain to empty. As little as two pounds of ground water pressure can lift a gunite pool out of the ground. Thorough testing requires that the pool and/or spa are filled to normal operating level. 

We price our leak detections according to the type of system you have. So the price for a basic pool will be less than the price for a pool/spa combo, which will be less than the price for a system with multiple pumps and features, such as fountains or a disappearing edge.

Note: We do not test portable spas. We do not resurface pools, and we do not perform major structural repairs. We are happy to refer you to a reputable, fully licensed contractor for such services.

Leak Detections

Our technicians test all types of systems, from standard single-pump pools to the most elaborate multi-pump backyard water wonderlands. Testing a basic residential pool, including both the structure and the plumbing, costs $350-450. For larger and more elaborate systems, call or email our office for a quote.

By pressure testing each line separately, we can isolate the specific leak. We inspect the structure both from the surface and underwater using scuba equipment. Our technicians inject non-toxic dye throughout the structure to determine if a gap or crack is cosmetic or the source of leakage. Our leak detections have a 30-day guarantee, so if a secondary leak occurs and your pool is still leaking, we'll come out free of charge to locate that one, too!

Salt or Chlorine

All pool and spa systems must be treated to prevent bacteria and algae growth. Typically, treatment means adding liquid or tablet chlorine. Bromine systems work similarly. Salt-water systems provide chlorine treatment, but use an entirely different delivery method. Electrolysis separates the salt into its elementary parts: chlorine and sodium. Many homeowners enjoy the feel of water treated with salt and conditioner.

When a salt-water pool or spa leaks, it loses salt and conditioner, too. With the addition of new water, the system becomes diluted, necessitating the addition of more and more salt throughout the year. With bromine and chlorine systems, chemicals must be added continually to keep up with water leakage. Heavy use of salt or chemicals is a strong indication that you have a leak.

Pool Plumbing Systems

A standard pool has a suction line and a return line. The first pulls water out of the pool. The second pushes water back into the pool. A leak on one of these lines can occur anywhere between the pool port or skimmer and the pump.

A spa adds an additional suction and return line to the mix. As do a fountain, disappearing edge, and waterfall. When scheduling your appointment, we request a thorough tallying of all the features on your pool/spa in order to provide accurate pricing and time allotment for testing.

Pool Structures 

Pool surfaces can be Pebble Tec®, gunite, fiberglass, or vinyl liner. Each ages and shows signs of wear differently. A leaking crack in a Pebble Tec® pool might camouflage itself for months whereas a glaring crack in a gunite pool might be only cosmetic and not leak at all.

Our technicians thoroughly test the entire structure, including pool walls and floor, steps, benches, lights, tiles, ports, and skimmers. If the structure leaks, our next step is to patch it with two-part marine-grade epoxy. Temporary patches help us narrow our leak search and stop immediate water loss. They are not a permanent or guaranteed solution.


Whether your pool has a single-pump or a multi-pump system, we always begin by inspecting the equipment for wear and leakage. While we are not licensed to repair pool pumps, we can identify leak sources and guide you to a reputable, licensed contractor for such services.

Call 916.760.8944