Pool plumbing, and honestly all plumbing (if you’re not a plumber) can be intimidating. Talk of potential leaks can be one of the things that detour people from getting a pool in the first place. Although this is a topic that is scary and seemingly rather pricey, one should fear not, because installing new or replacement equipment into pool plumbing pipes is simple and rather easy. Not only is it simpler than one would think, there are a few tips and tricks that we will include to ensure you have extra money for that family vacation you’ve been saving up for.
On to the good stuff: Fixing Pool Leaks
Small leaks are generally not a cause for concern, they will not drain your pool, they really do not have to be fixed immediately, and they usually don’t get any worse. Larger leaks, though, can be a cause for concern and need to be fixed right away.
Pressure Side Leaks
The most common pool plumbing leaks on the pressure side are glue joints (90-degree, 45 degree, etc.) or threaded joints (where male and female links are made). Being under pressure, these leaks make it very difficult to patch a leak because you cannot use leak stopping tape, and you can’t stop the leak by pouring epoxy either. You will need to find where exactly the leak is so it can be cut out and replaced.
Suction Side Leaks
When discussing the suction side, we are referring to the plumbing before the pool pump impeller, which carries water under suction or vacuum. A leak on the suction side will bring air into the pipes when the pump is on and leak water out when the pump is off.
Suction side leaking can be caused from cracked or damaged valves, eventually needing replacement. It can be difficult replacing just one valve because all of the Tee’s and 90’s are bumped up against each other, or additional PVC fittings from previous pipe and fitting repairs make future repairs impossible. In these cases, it is necessary to replace the whole suction manifold.
Underground leaks are usually not from the pool pipes themselves, rather they can come from tree roots, freezing, settling, and shifting of soil or decks. If you find that your pool has flexible PVC pipes underground, then they may need to be replaced with rigid PVC pipes because the flexible PVC can be damaged by earwigs and chlorine.
If you are sure that the leak is coming from underground, it is a good idea to perform a pressure test and listen with specialized equipment to make out the exact location of the leak. If need be, it is not a bad idea to abandon the entire old pipe underground, replacing it with an entirely new pipe if it is in horrible condition.
Fixing a Pool Leak
Once you have detected where exactly your leak is, take a moment to plan your next course of action. Obviously, you’ll need to cut out the old and put in the new but make a diagram to note exactly where everything is and what exactly you need. There is nothing more frustrating than having to stop and go to the store in the middle of a big project.
- When cutting pipes, make sure the cut is straight and to lean up the edge with sandpaper or Emery cloth. Leave enough pipe to make a solid connection (2 inches).
- Remember, it is more accurate to cut new PVC pipe pieces as you need them. It is okay to pre-cut pipe segments, but even better if you can measure again just before cutting. Also, it is better to be too long than too short. It’s best to leave an extra ½” to measure.
- Use PVC primer before adding fresh PVC glue. The primer cleanses and softens the pipes, gently heating the plastic to make solvent weld.
- To get the angle correct when gluing 90’s and 45’s, glue them in place with a length of PVC pipe inserted (dry, not glued) into the other side.
- Smear a silicone sealant over the threads (Blue RTV works well) and then wrap the threads in several directions with Teflon tape, in a clockwise direction. Tighten a threaded fitting by hand, then give it another couple turns with large pliers.
As you can see, this is a hefty job but can save a lot of money with the time and effort one is willing to put in. It is a lot simpler than people think and it is a lot less expensive than people make it out to be. Do not let your summer be ruined by avoiding a potential pool pipe problem! Call Jackward & Sons today if you have any questions about your pool plumbing, or if you want to buy a pool and have concerns! We are here to help: 615-227-2811.