Inground Pool & Broken Pipes

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Pools rely on plumbing systems to supply water and circulation.
Pools rely on plumbing systems to supply water and circulation. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

In-ground swimming pools have many of the same plumbing needs as above-ground pools. They require pipes to supply clean, filtered water, as well as a network of pipes to carry away pool water for filtering and the addition of chemicals. However, in-ground pools have their plumbing buried under the ground, which complicates the process of identifying and remedying broken pipes.

Diagnosing the Problem

When an in-ground pool's pipes first begin to leak it may be impossible to detect the problem. If the break is below soil or grass, the area may become visibly wet or soggy to walk on. If it is below a concrete deck, it is likely to be invisible. Broken pipes will allow dirt into the pool's plumbing, which will show up in the filter or in the pool itself if the break is in the return line.

Excavation

In many cases the only way to repair or replace broken pipes for an in-ground pool is by excavating the area around the pool. The depth of your pipes, which depends on your climate and local building codes, will determine how extensive and costly the excavation is. In addition, if you can target a specific area where the leak is coming from, you can reduce the amount of deck area, plants and grass you need to remove to reach the pipes.

Repair Options

Excavation gives you direct access to broken pipes, which you can replace with new ones to solve the problem. Some pool repair services offer pipe liners, which are flexible plastic tubes that seal off leaks. These can be inserted when there is a leak without excavation. Liners effectively replace the old, broken pipes with a new series of slightly narrower pipes. When excavation is impossible or cost prohibitive, this alternative may be appealing.

Prevention

The best way to avoid broken pipes for an in-ground pool is to hire installation professionals who have experience with in-ground pools and know the proper installation procedure for a pool's plumbing. Drain the pool to the recommended level every fall and shut off the water before draining the pipes to prevent them from freezing and bursting over the winter. Inspect pool pipes an replace them as necessary when you uncover them during landscaping or other building projects to prevent unplanned excavation in the future.

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