Oh no, you just discovered a leak in your swimming pool! That dripping water has you worried – could a leak actually cause structural damage and ruin your pool? Don’t panic just yet. While left unaddressed, a leak can certainly lead to problems, prompt action should allow you to repair the leak and prevent any major damage.

The most common causes of pool leaks are cracks in the shell, damaged skimmer boxes or return fittings, and problems with the plumbing. A very small leak may not immediately cause noticeable damage, but over time, the dripping water can erode and undermine the surrounding structure. The continual water pressure and erosion can enlarge the leak and compromise the integrity of the shell or foundation.

If the leak is in the swimming pool shell, the damaged section may begin leaking faster. Cracks and holes can quickly grow bigger, allowing more water to seep out and washing away more of the surrounding material. Soon, the leak can turn into a sizable gash in the shell. The flow of water will weaken the structure and stability of the shell, making collapse or buckling more likely. Any major failure of the shell itself would require very costly repairs.

Leaking skimmer boxes or return fittings placed in the pool wall can also lead to damage. The leak itself may gradually wash away concrete and enlarge the opening. More critically, the constant moisture and erosion can corrode the metal housing of the skimmer or return. Rust and degradation weaken the fixtures, potentially causing them to become fully disconnected and creating much larger openings in the pool wall.

Finally, a leak in the plumbing lines could undermine the ground supporting the pool. If a pipe has cracked or separated, the leaking water can carry soil particles away, creating a cavity behind or beneath the pool wall. As this void grows, it removes critical support for the pool structure. The walls can begin to shift and settle, putting great stress on the shell. In a worse case, the ground could give way beneath part of the pool.

The good news is, that catching a leak early and repairing it promptly can absolutely prevent any major structural damage. Small leaks or cracks in the shell can be sealed with hydraulic cement. Damaged skimmer boxes or return lines may need replacement. Plumbing repairs will involve locating the leak, replacing any damaged piping, and backfilling any erosion around the line. Depending on the leak severity and location, repairs may range from simple to quite involved.

While a leaking pool can seem like a nightmare scenario, it doesn’t have to spell disaster for your pool’s structure. At the first sign of a leak, have a pool service professional inspect it and make any necessary repairs. Swift action is key to keeping your pool intact and preventing any large-scale damage. Don’t ignore the leak – with timely repairs, your structure should emerge just fine. Before you know it, you’ll be back to enjoying your beautiful and intact pool once again!

For more information on pool leaks, read our article on how to detect a pool leak.