One of the many things we have noticed over the years of finding and repairing pool leaks is that many homeowners tend to ignore pool leaks for months, sometimes for years until they do something about it. When we would ask our customers when was the first time they noticed their pool to be leaking, we would often get an answer that goes something along these lines: “ Well, first time I noticed it was last spring when our leveler float was broken so we had to fill the pool manually, but then throughout the summer I just though water keeps going down because of the pool evaporation or leak, and then finally winter came along we fixed the auto- fill and our auto fill was running so much we could hear it going on all night. Then we figured that we must have a pool leak and it’s time to call somebody”.
Among our company techs we have always been wondering why people just keep ignoring this problem. If there was a leak in the house, seen or unseen, they would react right away; they would surely call a plumber or at least their city water department. We always knew there are associated expenses with an ongoing leak, both short-term and long-term cost, but we were unsure of how much exactly this increase is and how much it actually affects homeowner’s wallets. So, us at Leak Tech LLC, decided to calculate an estimate of how much it can cost you if you ignore your pool leaking for a longer period of time.
The first expense that comes to mind is the cost of water. At this time City of Phoenix and Maricopa county in general have some of the lowest water costs in the country. This is bound to change in the very near future, and in fact is already happening in some town across the Phoenix Valley. For example, water prices will rise 6% this year in the city of Phoenix and AZ Central claims that City of Surprise is expecting water rates to rise up to 48% over the next five years! There is no reason to think that the rest of the county and state won’t follow this pattern, after all, we all get the water from same source, Colorado River lower basin. Just using common sense, we can figure out that change in water is bound to happen, how a desert area can have lower water rates thanlet’s say a Midwestern or East Coast city that sits next to a large river.
All predictions aside, let’s try to figure out what that pool water leak is costing in water right now. As an example, we decided to use City of Scottsdale water department rates and a residential pool that is 20ft. x 40ft. in dimensions and which holds about 35,000 gallons of water. Let’s say that pool drops about 1in. over normal evaporation every day. This is a pool leak that an average autofill deals easily and that gets ignored so many times. Inch a day doesn’t seem so much, right. So, for every inch of water per day out of the pool of that size, every month you will have to add between 14,000 and 15,000 gallons of water. Translated into dollars, that water will cost you about $58.50 per month or $702 per year if you’re in the 3rd Tier of water usage (City of Scottsdale has tiered or increasing block rates for their water bills – think of the progressive taxes you pay depending on how much money you make, well this is very similar, the more water you use, the water prices go up). If you are in the 4th tier, that water will cost slightly more, $72.80 per monthly or $874 per year. Suddenly, that leak detection fee that companies like Leak Tech charge seems like a good deal. Another cost that is hard to measure is the cost of your pool leak to our environment. Water treatment is neither cheap nor environmentally friendly, so by cutting your water bill by fixing a pool leak you is not only helping your wallet, but also our precious environment.
These are current Scottsdale water rates in and if you look at the next table you will see the proposed rates for next two years. This proposal was made back in 2017 and we can see that water prices have risen over those initially proposed prices so we can expect Scottsdale water to rise even more. (source: scottsdaleaz.gov)
Water is already a precious resource in Arizona, city of Scottsdale is leading the way in implementing progressive (block) water billing structure which is a proven incentive that works for water saving purposes. People tend to save a lot more water when increased water usage hits their pockets harder. It is expected that other cities in Arizona will follow similar pattern by implementing progressive billing structures, so keeping an eye on your pool and acting fast when it starts leaking will pay off even more in the future.
Besides your water bill, your pool maintenance cost will increase on monthly base. Let’s say you still have that 14- 15 000 gallons monthly water loss in the pool, that pool water still needs to be treated with chemicals just like you need to treat pool water when you first fill it up. You’ll need chlorine and stabilizer at the very least. Liquid chlorine is still fairly cheap, but cyanuric acid that prevents chlorine breakdown is not. Leslie’s pool store charge about $30 for 2.5lbs pack of cyanuric acid (stabilizer or also called “conditioner”) which you’ll be spending every month until you get that pool leak fixed. Think about this, you’ll be pouring few pounds of harmful chemicals right into the ground in your backyard every month.
Other costs that sometimes occur and eventually become reality if pool leak is being ignored for a long time are cracks in the pool shells, hairline cracking of pool plaster, and issues with pool equipment that can result in costly expenses. From our experience one pool leak is usually followed by another. We worked on many pools where pool shell is cracked, but also, we find a broken pipe. It is impossible to determine which happened first, or how causal these events are, but the mere fact that we see these two leaks occurring on same pool is alarming enough. Logic tells us that water from a broken pipe can wash away the dirt under or on the side of the pool, causing stress on the pool shell. To repair one 5ft crack in the pool you’ll end up spending at least $1000 or more depending on the pool finish. Not to mention that crack will always be somewhat visible, since new finish very rarely matches the old one. Pool cracks are very similar to foundation cracks in the house, once it cracks even if you repair it with best stuff out there, there is always a risk of getting a new crack somewhere else or even at the same spot. Concrete slabs are notorious for settling and sometimes even a slightest ground settling will cause a new crack. If your pool is badly cracked, if it has more than 20ft of cracks, the only option you usually have is to have it completely remodeled and that costs thousands of dollars.
See how pool cracks looks like in pebbletec pool in this video:
Other expenses can occur when your pool leak drops the water level too low and cause your pump to cavitates, sucks in air and overheats. New pump will cost you around $500 for a single speed or $750 or more for a variable speed pump. That’s not including any labor charges your pool service person will charge you.
For all these reasons we think the math is really simple. Ignoring pool leaks will cost you a lot of money. In fact, the longer you ignore it, the higher repair and water bill you will end up with. For those reason, get that leak diagnosed as soon as you notice it. A lot of the time it is something that can be easily fixed, at least temporarily until the end of the pool season or until you feel ready to get a permanent fix. Either way, act fast and don’t end up with a lot more pool problems than you already have.