Pool care for the dumb and/or lazy

I bought a new house last year that happens to have an in-ground fiberglass pool. I’ve spent plenty of time wrestling with pool chemicals in an attempt to keep everything balanced, but never paid attention to the water level, as it seemed to be somehow maintaining itself.

Needless to say, over the past month or so the level has definitely gone down a couple inches. I’m not sure if there’s a leak (god forbid) or what.

By what mechanism could an in-ground pool maintain water level? Is there something I can check for obstruction/whatever before calling a pro?

Thanks for any advice!

Ever thought of “evaporation”? You need to refill the pool every few days–the last pool I had had a tap that you could turn on to fill the pool. In lieu of that, use a hose. A pool doesn’t fill itself! Rain will replenish the water to some extent, but you must fill it yourself!

well sure that would be my first inclination, too… but i’ve been living here almost one year and NEVER ONCE filled the pool. never. it barely rains in San Diego (recent weather notwithstanding) so it couldn’t be naturally refilled as a result of precipitation.

Well there’s your answer. :slight_smile:

Seriously though, I don’t know how the weather works in San Diego but there may have been a sudden increase in the evaporation rate. It’s just going up into the air.

Most pools are filled manually (with a hose). Some pools have an automatic filler, usually hidden underneath what looks like a skimmer cover - the filler will have a float and valve, similar to a toilet.

BTW, pools can develop leaks - mine did, and it was a tree root that grew up next to the return pipe and cracked it. It would lose an inch a night.

definitely hasn’t been that drastic-- yet, anyway-- but how did you discover the leak? presumably that requires a specialist of some sort to dig around in your yard?


No, just some sluthin’ :stuck_out_tongue:

Since it’s really dry out here, I have to top off the pool every weekend. I started to notice that the level was getting lower and lower each weekend, so I finally realized I must have a leak. I did some research, and found that the majority of leaks happen around the skimmer, the pool light, the drain, and any return hoses. I got my bottle of PH indicator (the red stuff), and squeezed some in the skimmer (the pool motor needs to be off), and didn’t see anything odd. I then went to one of the return vents, and when I squeezed the bottle, the dye was obviously sucked into the vent. I then went around the edge of the pool and poked a long screwdriver in the ground - when it came up wet, I started digging. The hard part was chipping away the cement around the pipe so I could fix it, but it wasn’t anything that required a lot of brains - just work.

1/ fill in your pool
2/ swim in a community pool

In summer months it is not unusual to have to add an inch a week or so.
In my first year of pool ownership I had the same fear, figuring that it must have been a leak.

A cheap and cheerful way to see if it’s evaporation is to fill a bucket with water and set it near the pool, marking the level of the water.
In a few days, compare the pool level change with the bucket level change.

I found through experience that even small holes leak copious amounts and drop the level more than an inch or two. I have come home to find six inches of water gone, due to a leak in the liner.

If you have a slow leak, you can use the food-coloring technique described by beowulff to find it. For a cement pool there are only a few failure points; for a pool with liner, there are many.

So my roommate and I just moved into a house that has an above ground pool. When we got here, it had gone to hell. We completely ripped out the liner, replaced it, and refilled it. Now, I’m wonder why with such a small pool, we need to add any chemicals besides shock and chlorine to sanitize it. Its only 12ft/48 in. Is it seriously going to ruin my pool if I dont add stabilizer, pH down, etc?
Thank you!

The smaller the pool, the more important these things are. Adjusting pH helps chlorine to work effectively, among other things, including moderating bacterial/fungal growth and making it more comfortable for swimmers. Your pH should be 7.2-7.6 and alkalinity should be 120-150 ppm (if memory serves) to buffer the pH. In a small pool, controlling chlorine is always going to be a problem. Plus, if pH gets totally out of control, it can corrode the pool, pipes and/or engine parts. (This corrosion may take months or years, but how often do you want to replace a pump?) I’m assuming there aren’t any cement or tile components, so setting the calcium hardness may be optional.

I’d second that. Keep your chemistry in line, else you will have a green pool before long.

For those who want more information, I frequent what I feel is a very helpful pool site Trouble Free Pool. The “Pool School” area has great information. There’s also a forum with friendly and helpful people.

The greatest OP on a pool-oriented message board seen (by me, so far) has been:
My Ph is: nnn, chloriine is nn, this chem is <snip>. Why is my pool green?

Duh - because having good numbers does NOT guarantee pure, clear water?

I also inherited a (in this case, LONG-abandoned) pool/spa.
I looked at everything I was supposed to know/do for the beast and decided to simply drain the damned thing.
Good luck!