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200 S. Ivy St. - RM 177
Medford, OR 97501
Phone: 541-774-2435
Fax: 541-774-2555
Contact: Julie Smitherman, Customer Service & Water Efficiency Manager
Email: julie.smitherman@m. . .
Hours: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Medford Water Commission

Medford Water Commission - 541.774.2430
Plugging pool leaks

A question often asked is how much impact a pool has on the water usage levels of a residence. Obviously, when a pool is initially filled, it will clearly be noticed on the next water bill. However, thereafter a pool need not result in much impact to overall water usage if it is in good repair and well managed. In fact, if kept covered when not in use to minimize evaporation, it may actually use less water than if the pool and decking area were planted in lawn.
 
Since it is generally recommended for pools to remain filled year ‘round, if water quality is reasonably maintained, complete refills should be unnecessary. Some water loss will also occur from splashing when in use, but this too can often be reduced by keeping the pool level slightly less full. On the other hand, pool leaks can be a huge source of unknown water loss. It is estimated that a pinhole sized leak in a pool plumbing system can lose about 1000 gallons of water per day.
 
Since some pool water loss will occur from evaporation and splash-out, how might you know if the amount of refill water is normal or the result of a leak? Sometimes there are obvious hints, from water on the floor of the equipment room to settling of the pool structure into the ground. If such clues aren’t present, the following is a simple test that can help you determine whether the amount of pool water loss is simply due to evaporation. At a time when you don’t anticipate using the pool for a day or so, place a bucket on the top step of the pool and fill it with water to the same level as the pool. (Put a few rocks in it first to add weight.) If your pool has an automatic refill feature, prop the float to inactivate it while doing the test. Compare the water level of the pool and the bucket after 24 hours. If the water level in the pool is lower than the bucket, you are losing more than can be attributed to evaporation and you probably have a leak. 
 
You can further identify whether a leak is likely in the pool structure or the plumbing by doing the bucket test with and without the pump running. If the loss appears to be associated with the pump, the plumbing is likely the cause. If you see bubbles in the return water when the pool’s pump is running, it can be a clue that there’s a leak in the suction side of the filtration system. Businesses with specialized leak detection equipment may be able to quickly locate plumbing leaks with minimal disruption.
 
Another way to determine the possible location where water is being lost is to turn off the filtration system and see if the pool only loses water down to a certain level. For example, the area around the skimmer can be the source of leaks.  If so, the pool will cease to lose water below that point. You might also be able to locate a leak by pouring some non-permanent colored liquid such as laundry bluing into the pool at different locations and observe color trails that show where it is moving. Watch to see if the color goes to a location on the pool wall and disappears. 
 
While some leaks may prove difficult to find and/or repair, others can be relatively simple. In some cases, the addition of certain chemicals to the water has been found to be effective at sealing small cracks or leak. Contact your pool company for further ideas and assistance. 
 

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