Tip & How-To about Pool & Spa

Bucket Testing to Locate Leaks In Your Swimming Pool

How To Conduct a Swimming Pool Leak Detection Using A Simple Bucket Test

In Arizona, you can see up a 3/4" per day loss through evaporation and it is suspected that during the course of a year, that nearly 3/4 of the pool would have been replaced due to evaporation.

Evaporation will vary greatly depending on a several factors; water temperature, air temperature, wind, dew points, barometric pressures and just overall changes in seasons. Also, if you heat your pool, you will also notice variations in evaporation. Because of these factors, evaporation rates can fluctuate from day to day, pool to pool, and of course, from parts of the country to others.

It is amazing how many people call in with concerns of leaks in their pool. They really are not sure why they are concerned but something has caught their attention and caused concern.

Before becoming too concerned about a leak, or spending the money on an expensive leak detection, conduct simple bucket test to determine if water loss in your swimming pool is due to a leak or is just evaporation.

In a nut shell, a bucket test exposes water in a bucket to the same conditions as those affecting your swimming pool. By comparing the water loss in the bucket to that in the pool, it is possible to determine if the pool is leaking or if supposed leaks are just the result of water being lost to the air.

Before undertaking any test, make sure your automatic water leveler is turned off!
Bucket Test Procedure:

  1. Bring the pool water to its normal level
  2. Fill an empty bucket with pool water to about one inch from the top of bucket. (By filling the bucket close to the top you are ensuring that air movement over the surface of the bucket will similar to that of the pool.)
  3. Place the bucket on the first or second step of the pool. To keep it from floating away it may be necessary to place a few bricks or rocks into the bucket. (By placing the bucket in the pool water you are ensuring that the water temperature of each body of water will be similar).
  4. Mark the water level inside the bucket with a permanent marker on the outside of the bucket.
  5. Mark the water level of the pool on the outside of the bucket, on the pool wall, or skimmer face plate. I recommend the bucket, because then you have something tangible to look at.
  6. Operate the pool for 24 hours as it had been operated when a leak was first suspected, in most cases, this will be the normal run times.
  7. After 24 hours, make a second mark on the bucket to indicate the level of the water in the bucket and do the same for the pool level.
  8. Compare the two levels. If the pool water has changed more than the inside water level, there is probably a leak. At this point, you should contact a professional leak detection agency.
You are probably wondering how this works when the body of waters are so vastly different in size. It all comes down to surface area. No matter how large or how small, environmental factors act the same on the surface area of the body you are testing.
Further Diagnosis: Establishing suspected leak locations with a "Pump on/Pump off test"

Comparing the results of the bucket tests with the pump on for 24 hours to the results with the pump off for 24 hours can provide additional information as to the type of leaking you may be experiencing.

Conduct a second bucket test with the equipment sitting idle. Do the same steps as noted above. Any leaks during this time are now called static leaks.

Water loss pump on > water loss pump off = suspect return plumbing leaks (Pressure side plumbing)

RESULT #1: Water Loss Active greater than Water Loss Static

PROBABILITY: Skimmer/main drain or other plumbing leaks (return lines, infloor system, aerator)\

RESULT #2: Water Loss Active equal to Water Loss Static

PROBABILITY: suspect shell, liner or fitting leaks, (non-plumbing)

If you have an in floor cleaning system, water feature or specialty items on your pool you should also conduct independent tests with each of these in the normal operation and compare them against other results when they are not in operation.

These types of tests are not 100%, but they do provide you with enough information to determine if further leak detection is necessary and to provide the leak detection company with some great information!


We hope to have been of service to you!

The Ugly Pool Guy, www.WeFixUglyPools.com

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Evaporative Emission System codes


check ur gas cap for tight and proper seal that is the most common problem for the the evap codes if cap is good check fuel and vent lines for damage or leaks from gas cap under vehicle up to engine compartment

Oct 18, 2009 | 2006 Mazda 3

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