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AADVANCED LEAK FAQ

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Normal water loss?
  2. Evaporation rates?
  3. Water goes where?
  4. Sinkholes?
  5. Pool popping?
  6. Length in business?
  7. Licensed & insured?
  8. Payments accepted?
  9. Duration of detection?
  10. Presence required?
  11. Add water before detection?
  12. Leave pump off?
  13. Vinyl and/or fiberglass?
  14. Aboveground pools?
  15. House, irrigation or other leaks?
  16. Warranty duration?
  17. Another company's diagnosis?
  18. Air bubbles=leak?
  19. Sand on bottom=leak?
  20. Low salt levels=leak?
  21. Unbalanced pool chemistry=leak?
  22. Pump dry conditions?
  23. Chlorine tabs in skimmer?
  24. Light repairs?

What is considered normal water loss? Water loss can occur from evaporation (addressed below), water change-out (from back-washing, splash-out or replacing over-hard water) or leakage. Both evaporation and water change-outs can be considered “normal” while leaks aren't. (FYI, a 1/4” per day leak in the average 350 sq.ft...... pool equals 55.6 gallons—or over 1,700 Gallons/Month.) back to top

What are the current evaporation rates? Evaporation rates can vary depending on the time of the year with the most evaporation occurring during seasonal change i.e. autumn and spring (& immediately post-frontal winter). Find out yourself by performing a leak/evaporation test or getting a general idea by checking out these charts. The main factors affecting evaporation rates are:

  1. Air temperature—a warmer air temperature (relative to the water temperature) only minimally (directly) increases evaporation, but will eventually warm a pool’s surface water (which will in turn slowly increase evaporation). Warm air is not as dense as cooler air and has less humidity carrying capacity. Predominate warm air conditions (relative to cooler water temperatures) occur significantly during mid-winter and mid-summer. Rule #1—Warmer air + cooler water=less evaporation.
  2. Water temperature—a warmer water temperature (relative to the air temperature) does increase evaporation. Approaching 60% of water temperature loss is expressed via evaporation. Ironically, pools “sweat” like people to lower their temperature. Predominate warm water conditions (relative to cooler air temperatures) occur significantly during early-to-mid autumn, mid-to-late spring, and wintertime instances (when a cold front initially roles in). Rule #2—Cooler air + warmer water=more evaporation.
  3. (Relative) humidity—the more humidity there is the less evaporation will occur. Humidity essentially measures the air’s water holding capacity. If the air is saturated with water (in vapor form), it has less capacity to take on more water. The presence (or absence) of clouds is a quick & simple method to determine humidity in the air—a lot of clouds indicate a lot of water vapor saturating the air (and, therefore, less evaporation). Low(er) humidity conditions occur during spring, winter & fall—when cooler, dryer air is present.
  4. Wind—air speed (breeze) over the water substantially increases evaporation. It acts kind of like a conveyor belt. Simply put, the quicker it (the air) moves, the more (moisture) gets carried away. As little as a 4 mph increase in average wind speed across the pools surface can double its evaporation rate. Predominate wind conditions occur during spring, fall, and (immediately) post-frontal instances in winter (which coincides with Rule # 2 above). back to top

Where does the water go when it leaks out of the pool? Immediately underground...usually just outside the shell. Florida soils tend to be sandy and porous and typically allow ample drainage into the surrounding vicinity. back to top

Will a pool leak cause a sinkhole issue? Not normally…a substantial pool leak would coincidentally need to be located over an empty limestone cavern. More certainly, however, wet soils (e.g. caused by a leak) tend to compact and shrink away from underneath the pool deck or shell. Settling damage (cracks/leaks) eventually occurs when leaks aren't addressed. back to top

How do you "pop" a pool out of the ground? Popping a pool is like totaling a car in an accident. Even though you can spend a considerable amount of money in repairing the damage, it will never again attain its original condition. Pools pop out of the ground (lift up a few inches to a few feet) when the surrounding ground water engages the pool's inherent buoyancy. Usually this happens during extremely low water conditions in conjunction with a high (ground) water table. Though some enterprising pool owners in high-and-dry neighborhoods drain their pools occasionally (in order to re-paint, swap-out a light etc), some make the mistake of discharging the wastewater too close to the pool. The ejected water temporarily encapsulates the pool shell & creates a micro high-water environment and…viola a wrecked pool. Note that large pressure-side (return-side) plumbing breaks can also cause the same temporary high ground water/ low pool water conditions described above. On the other hand, large suction-side plumbing breaks are less likely to cause pool-popping conditions. At worst in this scenario, since they aren't pressure driven by the pump, the pool's water level can only go down as much as the surrounding ground water table (which can sometimes mean an empty pool). In extremely rare instances, large suction-side plumbing breaks in a high ground water environment will actually gain water during pump operation, but then lose it again when the pump is off—very amusing to diagnose. Please note that when confronted with a large water drop in your pool, make sure to shut off the pump. As mentioned earlier, the water level will only go down as much as the surrounding water table (equalize) and NOT present a pool popping situation. back to top

How long have we been in business? Close to 20 years. We started as Pristine Pool Service in 1990 and quickly evolved/migrated into the leak detection business as Aadvanced Leak Detection Inc. back to top

Are we licensed and insured? We are a state Certified Florida Pool Contractor (LC# CPC-056992) and carry (customary) commercial vehicle, liability, and workers’ compensation insurance. back to top

What kind of payments do we accept? We accept personal and business checks, most major credit cards, and (of course) cash. back to top

How long does a leak detection take? Leak detection times vary for each pool depending on the complexity of the system. The duration can also be extended by the existence of multiple leaks or the pinpointing of tricky plumbing leaks. The simplest pool can take anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours (or more) depending on the above mentioned factors. back to top

Do I have to be home during the leak detection? It is not required for you to be there during the leak detection as long as payment arrangements have been made with the office ahead of time. (e.g. via Credit card). If you are not present upon work completion, we always make an effort to follow up with both a verbal (over the phone) report and an actual written invoice/report. back to top

Should I add water to the pool before you come? Yes, the pool will need to be full (at or above the middle of the skimmer), and it will also need to be clean and clear. Our technicians dive the pool and need good-to-excellent water clarity to see during the leak detection process. (A simple clarity test would be the ability to discern heads or tails on a coin placed by the main drain.) We are not able to do a leak detection on a pool that is significantly green or can perform a thorough (fully warrantable) inspection on a pool that is low on water. back to top

Can I leave the pump off until you get here? It is important to keep the pool clean while you are waiting for your leak detection appointment. It may be necessary to run the pump to prevent the water from turning green or getting dirty. If it helps, you may reduce the number of hours you run the pump during the day. Keep in mind, however, that leak characteristics change (may temporarily be reduced—especially during the pollen season) if the pool water is not filtered. The same holds true for emptied bodies of water (e.g. spa), which are filled just prior to the inspection. For the best outcome, consistently filtered, full systems provide the optimum environment for leak detection and repair. back to top

Do we service vinyl liner pools? Yes...as well as acrylic spas and fiberglass pools. As long as it’s clean & clear and there are no large obstructions (e.g. rock formations) or animals (e.g. fish ponds) we’ll detect it. back to top

Do we service aboveground spas & pools? Yes, we service both in-ground and aboveground spas...the same, of course, for pools. back to top

Do we locate leaks in houses, irrigation lines or other leaks (e.g. roof leaks)? Sorry…we specialize in leak detection for Pools, Spas and Fountains only. back to top

How long of a warranty do we offer? We offer a 60 day leak detection warranty which allows our customers an ample 2 months to report any possible water loss after a leak detection. Unless otherwise stated, we offer an industry standard 1 year warranty on minor repairs and an extended 2 year warranty on our major repairs. back to top

Will we honor another company’s diagnosis? Based upon numerous instances where we have been called in to complete another company's work, we've found that rarely can we depend upon that company's findings. Large, financially impactful repair decisions cannot be made upon the observations of a company with questionable abilities--or who does not repair leaks themselves. For the latter, they lack the years of valuable repair experience that is integral to achieving more accurate leak diagnoses. When choosing a leak detection company, make sure that they perform all detection and repair work in-house. Remember that it will usually cost more money (and time) if you decide to switch companies in the middle of diagnosing/repairing a leak problem. back to top

Do air bubbles coming back through the pool returns mean that I have a plumbing leak? Well…yes, but not necessarily in the way you might think. Air in the returns usually means that there is air coming into the system on the vacuum side (in front) of the pump i.e. low water per skimmer, pump lid, pump fittings, valve fittings, pipe fittings, etc. (Interestingly, you can have a few types of air leaks on the pressure side of your pump e.g. residual solar-panel purge air, inline chlorinators, and other venturi-engineered fixtures—similar to spa jet assemblies.) Sometimes, however, the vacuum leak can run further back into the plumbing i.e. actually in the skimmer/drain/cleaner line itself. At this juncture, a plumbing pinpoint is necessary to locate such a pipe leak. To make sure you don't have a simple air leak in front of the pump (confirmed by visible air bubbles under the pump lid), perform this easy air leak test. Turn a garden hose 1/4-on and sheet the resultant low-volume flow first over the (running) pump lid and then slowly in front of the pump over all the fittings. All the while, you'll want to observe the pump lid to determine if your water stream has intercepted the inlet to the air leak and reduced the volume of air under the lid. More often then not, you'll be able to determine the air entry point by this simple method. Please note that obstructed suction-side plumbing (e.g. a clogged cleaner line) will significantly reduce water flow and can cause cavitation conditions (air under pump lid) signified by loud/strained pump operation. For that matter, cracks in old cleaner lines can also be a source of air in your system. back to top

Does sand in the pool mean there is a plumbing leak? Only occasionally does sand in the bottom of the pool indicate an actual plumbing break. Oftentimes, D.E. (diatomaceous earth) filter powder (which looks like sand) can blow past a torn filter grid and settle out onto the pool floor. The same holds true for other filter types. Sand and fine debris can blow past a somewhat porous ("holey") filter system and recycle back into the pool. The important question to ask when you suddenly see sand on the pool floor is "Is my pool losing water?" If it isn't, you've probably just got filtration issues. back to top

Dropping salt level readings indicate leakage…right? Technically, a “salt-water” pool can lose salt primarily via water loss--and less likely via fountain-like high aeration (coupled with low cyanuric--low stabilizer) conditions. We have documented in numerous cases, however, that salt-losing pools (which are relatively calm and cyanuric-dosed) are not water-losing—that is, they aren't leaking. Please do not jump to the conclusion that you have a leak due to lowering salt levels. Rather, let the pool's water level be your guide. Set up a leak/evaporation test if you aren't sure. FYI…a 10% /week or more drop in your pool’s salt level (for instance) would require a concurrent 10% or more loss of pool water. Why? During refilling, you will dilute the remaining pool water with the 10% (by volume) of salt-free make-up water. In an average 20,000 Gallon pool you would have to lose (and make-up) 2,000 or more gallons to account for the respective salt loss—a water amount easily discernable visually. back to top

Can unbalanced pool chemistry cause leakage? Yes it can. More specifically, pool water that is too acidic (low pH) or too soft (not enough Calcium) or both will create aggressive water conditions. Aggressive water will seek to balance itself by getting what it needs from its surroundings. Gunite (concrete finish) pools are most susceptible to aggressive water, but vinyl-lined and fiberglass pools can also be impacted. Make-up (fill) water is automatically aggressive (too soft), and over time will exacerbate structural leaks—see reason three (in the five reasons to get your leak fixed on the "Why?" page). back to top

How long can the pump run “dry” before damage occurs? Fresh from the factory, a dry running pump would incur damage within about 10 minutes. That’s why you'll read stringent warnings stating such within the pump’s warranty. How does damage occur? Damage occurs originally near the single point of friction…the Buna rubber (bellow--accordion-like) part of the two-part ceramic/graphitic pump seal. In the field, however, pumps can run “dry” for 1 or more hours (& sometimes days or essentially forever) before internal impellor temperatures reach seal degrading levels (above 212 F). Why the discrepancy? Pumps fresh from the factory have no water whatsoever in the sump area while pumps in the field do. Even minimal amounts of water (mixed with air) help dispel considerable friction-derived heat in unprimed pump conditions. An unprimed pump out in the field will cycle air/water mixtures for extended periods of time and dispel the normal seal heat-friction derived from motor revolutions. Signs of excessive heat from extended, unprimed pump conditions include distorted strainer baskets, leaking/distorted MIP (just in-front/on-top of pump) fittings, distorted valves/pipe/fittings in immediate pump vicinity, and, of course, an eventually leaking pump seal. So how does a pump motor go bad? Well…if the seal breaks, water can infiltrate the motor’s front bearing and eventually compromise its lubrication. Many homeowners won’t notice a leaking seal for several days…when it’s too late. That’s when the loud pump (bearing) noises begin. The motor is still not dead however. The bearing has to totally freeze-up or otherwise totally degrade before the pump stops running. Keep in mind that loud/degraded bearings occur naturally within a pump’s life cycle. Unprotected pumps (against rain or moisture) experience bearing degradation years earlier than their more protected counterparts. Also, pump seals occasionally fail for no other reason than being presumably faulty. back to top

Should chlorine tabs (pucks) be put into the skimmer? No...for several reasons. First, chlorine tabs are extremely caustic due not just to the chlorine, but also to the acidity (pH around 2). Overnight, when the pump is off, this toxic acidic/chlorine brew tends to waft out of the skimmer and attack/degrade the vulnerable adjacent grout/vinyl/caulking (depending on whether it is a gunite, vinyl, or fiberglass pool respectively). Over time, this skimmer mouth deterioration will cause chronic leakage. Similarly, avoiding degradation of adjacent leak repairs (e.g. epoxy) is a second reason for keeping chlorine tabs out of the skimmer. Finally, some skimmers (undetectable from above) have a section of vulnerable flex pipe plumbed-in adjacent to the skimmer body (see flex line failure) making it even more prohibitive to place tabs into the skimmer. back to top

Why don’t we change out lights?…We don’t carry the needed parts inventory (bulbs, gaskets etc) nor do we diagnose/repair their associated electrical problems. We normally recommend proven repair firms for such work. FYI...sometimes just resetting the light's GFCI breaker (usually by the pump) will resolve the issue. back to top