Having a swimming pool in your backyard has many benefits; it is a readily available exercise resource, and a fast way to cool off during the hottest days of summer. It can serve as the focal point for a number of social occasions, and may help to increase the value of your home. The downside is that all pools, regardless of whether they are above ground or below ground, come with recurring maintenance tasks and costs. This includes occasional repair costs. Vinyl pool liner leaks are not uncommon, and with a little knowledge, the investment of some time and a modicum of effort, you can locate and seal up any leaks that the liner may have without calling in a specialized repair person.
Confirming a leak
The first step in the process of finding a pool liner leak is to confirm or preclude a liner leak. Fill the pool up to its proper operating level and mark that level with a crayon, marker, or piece of tape. Check that line once in the morning and once in the evening for one or two days. If the pool loses more than 1" of water per day, odds are you have a leak and are not losing water because of evaporation or the water getting splashed out.
The next step is to do a thorough visual inspection of the pool, the surrounding area and all pertinent equipment. Look for standing puddles or small rivulets of water that appear to originate from the pool wall. If the suspected leak has been leaking for any period of time, the grass in the area of a leak may be darker green and may have grown more rapidly than the rest of the lawn. When checking the pool equipment, be sure to include any pumps, hosing, filters, fittings and seals, including covers and cover screws. If there is sand under the liner, look for sinkholes where sand may have washed out from the area immediately adjacent to a leak. Carefully check the liner where any ladder feet may be resting, and in the corners and around steps where the liner may be stretched very tightly.
Internal pool inspection
If all of these checks fail to find a leak, it may be time to get in the pool with a pair of goggles or a swim mask and visually inspect the entire liner. Pay particularly close attention to any seams in the liner. Frequently, small tears or cuts in the pool liner will look like a miniature smile or small line. Any suspected leak can be tested by the use of the red dye that comes in the pool water testing kit, or by using red food coloring. If you place a few drops near the suspected leak (within 1/4 of an inch), the dye or food coloring will exit the pool at the site if it is indeed a leak. Once the leak is found, there are a number of options that can be used to seal the leak without completely draining the pool.