How to Repair Leaky Pumps and Cracks in Your Pool

Pools rely on a pump to circulate water, filter out dirt and organic debris, and balance the chemicals. Professionals can fix problems like a leaky pump lid, broken seal plate or motor shaft.

Pool Repair

Surface cracks in a concrete pool may not look like much, but they can cause structural damage and leaks. A pro can repair these cracks and replaster the pool if needed.

A pool leak can be a huge problem for your backyard swimming experience. Not only does the loss of water lower your overall pool chemistry, but it can also damage the structure of your pool and surrounding area. Thankfully, pool repair experts can quickly pinpoint the source of your underground leak by using sophisticated equipment like hearing and pressure testing devices or even the old-fashioned garden hose.

Oftentimes, a pool leak is caused by a crack in the concrete of your pool or one of its components. These include the skimmer, the drains and returns, or the pipes that are underground. The most common location of an underground pipe leak is at the equipment pad or near the skimmer, but they can also be found elsewhere in your plumbing system.

Cracks in the structure of your pool can also cause leaks, especially if they are left unattended. Whether it’s smaller surface check or shrinkage cracks on steps, or larger structural cracks that run across the pool walls, these must be repaired quickly to avoid any further damage.

Structural leaks can be more difficult to detect, and oftentimes are a result of ground movement. These can happen over time due to soil shifts or if your pool was improperly installed during construction.

To help pinpoint the source of the leak, you can use the bucket test. Place a bucket on the second step of your pool and mark it with a water line, then shut off the pump and allow the bucket to sit for 24 hours. If the water in your bucket is lower than the mark you made on the side, there’s a good chance you have a leak. Another method involves spraying the suspected area with food coloring. If the food coloring is sucked into the crack, there is a leak.


Some people are tempted to leave cracks in their pool unrepaired, because they don’t care about aesthetics or they’re into that Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi (embracing imperfection). But if you have cracks in your pool that show up faster than you can plaster them, then it’s time to talk to an experienced professional. That’s because those cracks might be a sign that your pool isn’t being well designed or installed, and it’s vulnerable to deeper structural problems like bad leaks.

Pool Cracks are usually divided into two categories. The first are surface cracks in the pool’s plaster that don’t extend further than the plaster surface. These are pretty common and aren’t particularly serious for most pools. The second category are structural cracks that run through the shell of your swimming pool and could be indicative of a leak or a structural problem.

Most of the time, smaller cracks can be fixed easily by draining your pool and removing any loose material with a metal tool like a flathead screwdriver. Next, you can widen the crack a little and then use putty made specifically for swimming pools to fill the crack and smooth it out.

Bigger cracks are a little more complicated, since you will need to drain the pool all the way down and open your relief plugs. You will also need to chisel around the crack and widen it further, and you will need to sand down the area. After that, you can use a fiberglass layer and then another gel coat to seal the crack. You can use store-bought products to repair cracks, but they don’t last very long and you’re better off with an experienced pool contractor who offers high quality concrete solutions.


Tears and punctures in vinyl-lined pools are generally easy to repair, but you must shut down the pool water and drain it to the level below where the damage is located. Then, you need to sand the damaged area and apply a bond coat and mixed polyester putty. Once the putty is dry, you can use a fiberglass layer to complete the crack repair.

This is a good method for repairing small tears or holes in your vinyl liner and can work on liners up to 10 years old. However, if your liner is older and you are noticing more punctures or tears, it may be time to purchase a new one.

If you notice a sizable bulge in your pool, it could be a sign of structural problems that need to be addressed immediately. These issues can include leaks, cracks in the structure of the pool and even collapse.

You can find the location of a tear or hole by walking around your pool with a pool dye test and looking for wet areas. You can also squirt a little pool dye near fixtures such as lights and returns, to determine whether the problem is in or around those areas.

If you can’t find the source of a leak, it may be a plumbing issue that should be addressed by an experienced professional. It is important to hire a company that has experience with this type of repair to ensure that it is done properly and is long-lasting. A company that specializes in concrete, gunite and fiberglass shells should be able to handle this type of issue with ease. They should also be able to advise you of other structural repairs that may be needed to protect your investment.


Many pool owners are surprised to find that despite regular filtering, chemical monitoring and occasional frog skimming, their pools will eventually begin to show signs of deterioration. In addition to the usual cosmetic problems like cracks, erosion marks and discoloration, deterioration can cause serious structural problems and even a hazard to swimmers.

Over time, your pool will inevitably crack, especially if it’s been built on expansive or poorly compacted soil, and if it wasn’t designed or constructed properly in the first place. Structural cracks are often more difficult to repair than surface cracks, and can quickly grow into larger areas if left unattended.

Cracks that are too deep may lead to structural leaks, and repairing them is a much more in-depth project than patching. When water passes through structural cracks, it can weaken the supporting soils around your pool, and this can result in further damage to the structure and even a collapsed pool.

Staining is also a sign that your pool may need to be resurfaced. It can be caused by hair clips and other non-pool toys, but it’s also common for garden and lawn fertilizers to contain high levels of iron and other metals. These metals can enter the water and cause stains, but they are not usually permanent and can be corrected with acid washing or sanding.

One last sign that it’s time to resurface is when you see pebbles on the bottom of your pool. These loose pebbles are a symptom that the old plaster is degrading, and you’ll need to have the entire pool shell resurfaced. This is a major job that requires proper surface prep, including the use of sandblasting or chemical surface etching to create a bond with the new plaster.


Spalling is when your plaster starts to chip and peel, which can happen to any type of pool. When it does, you need to decide between resurfacing your entire pool or patching the problem areas. Unless your plaster is in really bad condition, you should try to do the latter as it is a less costly option.

A common mistake by many pool owners is to confuse spalling with delamination, which happens when an entire new layer of plaster separates from the underlying surface. This can occur due to improper surface preparation for bonding the new material to the old, lack of rebar in the structure, ground movement during construction and other reasons.

To repair a spalling area, you can chisel away the loose material with a hammer and a chisel. It is important to use safety goggles, ear protection and a heavy duty work glove when doing this. Rinse the crack with clean water before you replaster it. If you are repairing a large area, you can also sand it down and prime it before replastering it. If you are using a concrete patching product, it is best to add some sand to the mix so it can grip into the crack more securely. Also, cover your patches with wet bed sheets if you won’t be filling the pool for 4 to 6 hours to keep them from drying out and shrinking before they can cure underwater.