Water loss is among the most wide-spread problems with pool ownership. There are a number of reasons behind the problem, among the most serious of which is aging of drains and associated plumbing. When the pool requires more than 2 inches of new water per week, it becomes necessary to seek out and repair the leak. The bottom drain serves to remove debris from the bottom of the pool and is one likely source of leaks.
Evaporation is a normal part of owning a pool, and is the leading cause of water loss in most regions of the United States. Though this problem is not related to drains, plumbing or leaks, it is responsible for removing several hundred gallons of water per month, and should be the first correction made when water loss becomes an issue. Evaporation is most serious with large pools in hot areas. The larger the pool, the more water will be lost during the hot months of summer. Installing a cover and putting it in place when the pool is not in use can greatly reduce or eliminate evaporation. If this addition doesn’t treat the water loss, it is likely the result of a crack or leak in the pool.
If water loss persists after the addition of a pool cover, it is likely the result of a leak. The bottom drain is a fairly common source of leaks, and requires the pool be drained before it can be repaired. There are several ways to locate a leak within a pool, the specific method can vary depending on the location of the leak. A pressure test can find leaks in the plumbing and requires a specialized device that targets the plumbing system. A dye test requires a few drops of food dye be dropped around the area of a suspected leak. If the color is pulled out of the water, it is indicative of a leak. Both methods will work with a bottom drain, depending on where the leak is located.
If the pressure test and dye turn up nothing, the next area to check is the sealants that surround drains and plumbing. All swimming pools are equipped with water-tight sealants, but these materials wear and break down over time, leading to large amounts of water being lost. Any piece of plumbing and all drains require new sealants be applied as the pool ages, including the bottom drain. New sealant materials are available from just about any pool specialty store. An additional option, particularly for older pools, is to remove and replace all plumbing with new materials. Though this process requires more time and money, the risk of having to repeat the process again on another leak is diminished.
Cracks, like leaks, are fairly common problems as a pool and its drains age. The body of the pool is not usually the source of cracks, with the exception of damage from an earthquake or similar problem. If there is a crack around the edge of the drain, the pool must be emptied and dried completely before being coated with PVC cement. This material is only useful if cracks are minor. More serious cracks require the drain be replaced.
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