How to Fix a Swimming Pool Main Drain Leak

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Main drain leaks can be costly but must be repaired.
Main drain leaks can be costly but must be repaired. (Image: Swimming pool and pool house image by Jim Mills from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

The main drain of an in-ground swimming pool is one of the most crucial parts of the pool’s mechanics. An improperly functioning or broken drain can be an owner’s worst nightmare because usually the pool must be completely drained and the concrete or plaster at the bottom must be destroyed in order to fix the leak. Although this method might be a costly solution, replacing the drain pipe ensures that leaking will not reoccur.

Things You'll Need

  • Submersible pump
  • Small bucket and cup
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire
  • Shovel
  • Jackhammer
  • Claw hammer
  • Pipe
  • Epoxy
  • Glue
  • Concrete mix
  • Trowel
  • Plaster compound

Determine the exact location of the leak. You can do this with the naked eye or by hiring a leak-detection service. The service will have the tools necessary to detect this sometimes hard to find type of pool leak. Make sure the leak is around the main drain, which is located at the bottom of the pool and empties underneath the pool. The drain's line leads to the pool pump, along with the skimmer line.

Turn off all circuits and power to the pool equipment. Use a submersible pump to drain the pool completely of all water. You might need to use a small bucket to remove any leftover water the pump was unable to drain. Remove the cover from the main drain with a screwdriver. Use a small cup to remove any water in the main drain. The area needs to be as dry as possible before repairs can take place.

Place a long, flexible piece of wire in the main drain opening to determine which direction the drain pipe runs. Mark the area above the pipe and break away any concrete around the leaking area with a jackhammer. Remove the broken concrete and use a shovel to remove some of the dirt from around the main drain pipe.This will allow the pipe to be exposed during repair.

Use a claw hammer to break away any leftover concrete from around the pipe. Remove the broken pieces and any other debris. Pinpoint the leaking spot and cut out the pipe above and below that area. Cut a new section of pipe identical in length to the one you removed. Seal the pipe with epoxy and glue the new section in place.

Pour mixed concrete into the area you dug to expose the pipe. The concrete should be level and about an inch below the pool surface. Allow the poured concrete to dry overnight. Mix plaster and spread it over the poured concrete. Use a trowel to smooth the surface so that it aligns with the rest of the pool. Fill the pool with water.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the leak reoccurs, the drain line either was not replaced correctly or there is a leak from another source. Check the pool walls for any cracks.
  • Wear earplugs when working around jackhammers.

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