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Well, is your pool losing a suspicious amount of water?

A leak in the pool could be the cause. However, this is nothing to worry about. Holes in inflatable swimming pools can be easily patched with a vinyl patch. The beauty is that any pool owner can patch the pool.

Really, anyone can repair the pool liner. It’s not a matter for a professional, but a matter of a few minutes. The equipment needed usually costs not even 15€.

Most of the time it is not quite clear whether the pool has a hole at all. Because there are also natural causes of water shrinkage. More about that in a moment.

If you’re definitely dealing with a leak, you can jump straight to the repair instructions part. Otherwise, the bucket method is a good way to determine if the pool even has a hole.

Does the pool even have a hole?

Before looking for the pool leak, you should make sure that the pool has a hole at all. After all, evaporation, water loss during sand filter system backwashing, or splashing around with kids in the swimming pool all provide natural water loss.

Pool owners should expect about 3% to 5% water loss on a weekly basis for these reasons. Therefore, there is a constant need for fill water. A clever method to determine the cause of water loss is called the bucket method.

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For the bucket method, all you need is a bucket that holds about 20 liters, tape or a black sharpie. The procedure is quite simple:

  1. Place the empty water bucket on the first or second step of the pool.
  2. Fill the bucket with water until the water level in the bucket is on a level with the water level of the pool.
  3. Mark the water level with (waterproof) sharpie or tape.
  4. Turn off the filter system and the circulation pump.
  5. Wait for 24 hours. (Note: Do not perform the bucket method during heavy rain. The rainwater may skew the results).
  6. Now it is time to check the results. Compare the pool water level to the water level in the bucket. If both water levels are at the same level, evaporation is probably the cause of water loss in the pool. If the level in the swimming pool is significantly lower than in the bucket, it is probably indeed a leak.
  7. If necessary, run the experiment again to be absolutely sure. This time, run the pump system.

Note: By a significant difference in water level, we mean that the difference should be at least half an inch. Only then is a leak is likely to be the cause. If the water level drops 0.5 cm more every day than natural cause explains, your pool is losing a lot of water every day.

Locate the leak with the ink method

If the pool water is cloudy or you simply, for a long time, could not clean the pool, the location of the hole is not easy to determine.

Before the repair can begin, the hole must first be located. In some cases, a close inspection of the pool can locate the leak. In the case of larger holes, rivulets or puddles form at the bottom.

Sometimes the pool will steadily lose water due to a leak, but the exact location of the hole cannot be discerned. However, keen observation can determine the approximate location of the leak. This is because pool water can only drain until the level of the hole is reached.

When the water level stops dropping, it is clear that the leak is at the level of the current water level. If there is a hole at the bottom of the pool, this is annoying, because then the water will drain completely.

If the leak cannot be located even now, you should use the ink method. To use the ink methods, you will need swimming gear, a snorkel mask, and dark food coloring.

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Here’s how the ink method works:

  1. Check the pool walls and the area around the pool: before using the food coloring, narrow down the search area by walking all around the swimming pool looking for signs of moisture, rivulets or puddles.
  2. Put on bathing suits (and possibly a snorkel mask): Now it’s off to the water. Put on your bathing suits. If there is a leak at the bottom of the pool, a pair of goggles or a snorkel mask won’t hurt.
  3. Insert food coloring: Now slowly move to the area where you suspect the leak is. Squirt the dye near the pool wall. If the leak is near it, water will flow toward the hole. The dye will make this water flow visible.

Instructions: For an inflatable pool, repair the pool liner

For in-ground pools made of materials such as concrete, plaster or fiberglass, leaks can be repaired without professional help. In some cases, however, the professional experience of a pool builder is needed. On the other hand, anyone can locate a leak in an inflatable pool and then patch the pool liner.

Inflatable swimming pools are usually lined with vinyl foil. A leak in such a liner pool can be patched in no time with inexpensive materials. Another advantage is that swimming pools are usually smaller, which makes finding the hole even easier.

If there is a hole, it is not necessary to replace the entire pool liner. It is enough to seal the leak with a vinyl patch that can be purchased online. This is possible even if the pool leak is underwater.

The exact procedure for pool leak patching depends on whether the leak is below or above the water surface:

Patching a pool above water

  • Step 1 – Cut vinyl patch out in a circle: Normally, a typical vinyl patch repair kit includes a rectangular piece of vinyl sheeting. From this, you now need to cut out a circle that is at least five inches larger in diameter than the area to be sealed. The circle shape is useful because it prevents the patch from coming loose at the corners.
  • Step 2 – Apply adhesive: many sets already include a PVC adhesive. Alternatively, suitable adhesive can also be ordered separately. The adhesive is now applied to one side of the patch. Make sure that the strong adhesive substance covers the entire surface.
  • Step 3 – Clean the adhesive area: Before you apply the patch, the area around the leak must be thoroughly cleaned. This will ensure better adhesion later on.
  • Step 4 – Allow adhesive to dry briefly: If the leak is above the water level, you should now allow the adhesive to dry for a total of 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Step 5 – Apply patch: Now it’s time to apply the patch to the area with the leak. Apply pressure for another two to three minutes to allow the adhesive to bond well with the pool liner.

Patching a pool underwater

  • Step 1 – Cut out vinyl patch: The supply of a typical repair kit includes a square or rectangular piece of vinyl sheeting. Cut a circle out of it. The circle needs to be about five inches larger in diameter than the area to be patched. The reason for this is that the circular shape will prevent the patch from peeling off at the corners.
  • Step 2 – Apply adhesive: most kits come with an adhesive right out of the box. However, a matching PVC adhesive can also be ordered separately. When applying the adhesive, make sure that the entire patch is really covered with adhesive. Apply an extra thick layer of the adhesive if you have an underwater leak.
  • Step 3 – Clean the gluing area: from the inside, clean the area to be glued thoroughly with a pool brush.
  • Step 4 – Allow adhesive to dry briefly: Allow the adhesive to dry briefly for two to three minutes.
  • Step 5 – Fold patch: Fold the patch in half so that it does not come into contact with water if possible.
  • Step 6 – Apply patch: Open the patch just before the location of the leak and stick it to the pool wall or the bottom of the pool. Keep the pressure on for another five minutes so that the patch can bond well with Vinyl foil.

Patching pool liner with household products

Patching the leak with a proper PVC patch is definitely a better solution, but if you need to do it quickly and can’t find a patch at home, you can also patch a pool with home remedies.

All you need is a brush, regular parcel tape, construction silicone and a cartridge with a sprayer. Cut a piece of the parcel tape about 10 cm long and place it on a smooth surface with the adhesive side facing up. Now use the cartridge to press some construction silicone onto the center of the parcel tape.

Put on your bathing suit, take the improvised band-aid and get into the pool. Place the patch so that the spot with the leak is sealed by the silicone. Apply pressure for a few minutes so that the silicone can effectively seal the hole. Then the temporary repair will also last longer.

The parcel tape is also applied to the pool liner. The job of the parcel tape is to hold the silicone in place until it is solid. The silicone is fully cured after about 24 hours. Then you can carefully peel off the tape.

The interesting thing about silicone is that it does not dry, but reacts with moisture. Above water, the silicone uses the moisture in the air to cure and thus cross-links with a substrate.

In water, the same process happens: the silicone also hardens underwater, making it the ideal choice if you want to repair a pool leak with household products.

Conclusion

Repairing an inflatable swimming pool is almost child’s play – thanks in part to this guide.

With the right procedure and equipment, leaks can be repaired both above and below water. In addition to the professional kits with a suitable vinyl patch and an adhesive, there are household remedies that can be used to patch a pool leak.

Larry has been a true water rat since childhood. Pure pleasure turned into a passion. That's why he is the first point of contact for friends and acquaintances when it comes to pool-related problems. He is an integral part of the PoolHandbook editorial team.