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How to Find a Leak in an Above Ground Pool (8 Proven Ways)

Leaks can ruin an above-ground pool in a matter of weeks. The vinyl liner isn’t designed to handle spreading tears and cracks. So, how to find leak in pool?

It’s best to locate the leak as quickly as possible to prevent it from ruining the vinyl, draining the water, and causing structural damage.

You want to know how to find a leak in an above ground pool? follow these steps:

  • Use food coloring
  • Check for plumbing leaks
  • Inspect the equipment
  • Check the vinyl edges
  • Use a leak detection chemical
  • Look for bubbles in the vinyl
  • Follow air bubbles around the pump
  • Smooth the liner wrinkles

Throughout this post, I’ll explain each step to help you find and repair the leak in your above-ground pool. I’ll also show you what causes leaks, which products work, and how to prevent the leaks from returning.

Use Food Coloring

Add food coloring to your above-ground pool to quickly locate a leak. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book because it’s as easy as it gets. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Turn on the pool pump to move the water and dye.
  2. Place several drops of food coloring into the pool around where you think the leak is.
  3. You know there’s a leak if the dye moves toward anything other than the pump.

This suggestion works because water naturally follows the path of least resistance. You can track the dye to know the closest outlet, which should be the skimmer basket.

How to find a leak in a pool liner? Check for Plumbing Leaks

People often think there’s a leak in the liner. However, above-ground pool plumbing is prone to leaks due to the weight of the water flowing down into the system.

In-ground pools are below the equipment, whereas above-ground pool plumbing handles the full weight of the pool water. Look for drips and wet surfaces in the following locations:

  • All of the hoses or PVC plumbing
  • The unions on the pump, filter, and salt system
  • O-rings and seals in the equipment

You should replace dry, cracked, and broken seals and O-rings quickly. Don’t forget to get new hoses and unions if there are cracks or chipped pieces. Epoxies don’t work on pool equipment (in most cases).

Inspect the Pool Equipment

Your pool equipment can leak if there’s too much pressure or if it’s handled improperly. Pool pumps leak when they have misaligned O-rings, but mishandling and misplacement can quickly damage the equipment pad.

Follow these steps to inspect the equipment:

  1. Look for cracks in and around all of the equipment.
  2. Lubricate the O-rings annually to prevent them from cracking.
  3. Tighten the drain plugs on the pump and filter.
  4. Ensure all of the brackets are tightened on the hoses.

Monitor the Edges of the Pool

Vinyl pool liners leak around the edges when there’s too much pressure around the outer ring. This issue also occurs if wrinkles go unchecked. The added weight of the wrinkled stretches the edges, which weakens the material. The vinyl will dry and crack, leading to minor leaks that quickly expand.

You should be able to put light pressure on the edges without water pouring through any cracks. Patch them as quickly as possible.

Boxer Adhesives Peel & Stick Vinyl Patches work underwater and provide enough resistance to prevent future tears. Each box comes with a handful of patches to repair the pool. You can use these patches without draining the pool, saving you time, money, and energy.

Boxer Adhesives Peel and Stick Vinyl Plastic Pool Patch

Add a Leak Detection Chemical to the Pool

Leak detection chemicals work slightly better than the food dye suggestion. The thick liquid follows the path of least resistance and shows you where the leak sits.

The Leak Master Leak Locating Dye has a syringe to pull and pour the solution around the leak. Choose between blue and yellow dye for the best visibility.

Every bottle contains enough solution to fill the syringe up to 40 times, making it perfect for multiple uses. You can use it anywhere in and around your home that requires leak detection.

Leakmaster Pool DYE Leak Detection (Blue | 8 oz)

Look for Bubbles in the Liner

Bubbles in the liner are caused by water leaking through the vinyl. The water pools below the liner, lifting it into a bubble. Stepping on the bubble or poking it with a sharp object will instantly lead to a massive tear, so these leaks must be identified and repaired immediately.

Vinyl liners last long, but one leaky bubble can ruin it immediately. Use one of the aforementioned leak detection methods, then patch the leak. If you find a big bubble under the liner, you might have to create a small incision to reduce the pressure. Patch it right after the bubble goes away to prevent more water from leaking.

Follow the Air Bubbles in the Pump

Leaks almost always put air bubbles into the plumbing. These bubbles gather in the pump’s lid. You can follow the bubbles to know which direction they’re coming from.

For example, if the bubbles come out of the outlet in the swimming pool, there’s likely a leak in the plumbing. If bubbles are under the pump’s lid but not in the pool, there’s likely a leak in the unions or liner.

You can also use leak detection chemicals and dyes to follow the bubbles. Pour the dye on the bubbles and see which direction they go for a better idea of where the leak comes from.

Smooth the Wrinkled Vinyl Liner

Wrinkled vinyl liners can ruin the pool by causing leaks far too big for most patches. The following issues cause these wrinkles:

  • Jumping off the edges of the pool
  • Old age wearing the vinyl and pushing it inward
  • Poor liner installations

You can smooth and correct the wrinkles by wearing rubber shoes, standing on one side of the wrinkle, and pushing the other side away from your body with a clean toilet plunger. You could also fix the wrinkle with a shop vac.

How Do You Find A Leak In An Above-Ground Pool Ring?

To find a leak in an above-ground pool ring, follow these instructions:

  1. Push the pool ring down until it’s below the water. It needs to be low enough for the leaky vinyl to be submerged. You’ll have to walk around the pool and push the ring repeatedly until you find the leak. Remember that you’ll inevitably lose a few gallons of water.
  2. Circle the leak with a marker to indicate where it is. It’s important to mark the leak to make it easier to find when you get the patch. Most small leaks in above-ground pool rings are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. It’s quite easy to lose the hole if you don’t circle it.
  3. Dry the above-ground pool ring and apply a vinyl repair patch kit. I recommend the mentioned Boxer Adhesives Peel & Stick Kit because you can use it multiple times, so you don’t have to worry about messing up. Furthermore, the patches can get wet without losing their adhesive.

Pro Tip: Round the edges of the vinyl patch to prevent them from getting caught on different items in the pool. The rounded patch will blend seamlessly with the rest of the pool ring. Ensure the patch is at least an inch bigger than the hole on all sides.

Unfortunately, not all above-ground pool rings can be patched. Check the hole to ensure it’s not a long tear. These tears often get bigger, even if you apply a patch. The weak vinyl sits inside the ring, making it impossible to stop it from spreading. If this issue occurs, you’ll likely have to replace the pool since they’re built into the ring.

If you prefer a video guide for this process, review this helpful YouTube video:

How Do You Find A Hole In The Bottom Of An Intex Pool?

To find a hole in the bottom of an Intex pool, look for air bubbles coming out of the liner. Most vinyl leaks send air into the pool at a slow rate. You can also use colored dyes and leak detectors to quickly locate a small leak in almost any Intex swimming pool. Once you find the leak, clean it and apply a patch to stop it.

Intex pools are unique, durable, and reliable. However, they’re not immune to leaks. Try my quick method for identifying and preventing leaks in your Intex pool below.

  • Look for sharp objects poking through the liner. You shouldn’t feel anything sharp when walking around the pool. Stickers, thorns, rocks, and twigs slowly break through the liner. The weight of the water pushes the sharp tips into the liner, causing leaks and other problems.
  • Check for water puddles around the outside and bottom of the pool. Many leaks push water to the edges of the vinyl. You’ll notice a thin layer of water on one side of the pool, letting you know you’re getting close to the leak. You can use this tip to focus your efforts on that pool quadrant.
  • Follow the lighter shades of vinyl. Most vinyl liners get lighter at their weakest points. This common problem occurs when the liner stretches. The thin material lightens the blue coloring, making the vinyl look lighter than the rest of the Intex pool. Rub your hands over the light portion of the pool, feeling for dryness, cracks, and leaky holes.
  • Make sure all of the corrugated plastic hoses are tight and leak-free (including the vacuum hoses). Intex pools almost always have plastic hoses. They’re lightweight and flexible, but the constant exposure to sunlight and chlorine can make them brittle. Look for drips of water and lose connections to stop the leaks.

Some stabilizers will damage your vinyl liner, so preventing them from settling is important. Liquid and powder stabilizers must be circulated to keep them from sitting in one spot too long. Their acidic pH and low alkalinity corrode and weaken the vinyl, encouraging leaks, rips, and tears.

How to find a hole in a pool liner

A hole in a pool liner can cause water loss and damage the pool structure. To find a hole in a pool liner, you need to follow these steps:

  • Check the pool’s water level and mark it with tape or a marker. You may leak if the water level drops more than 1/4 inch per day.
  • Inspect the pool liner for any visible signs of damage, such as tears, cracks, holes, or wrinkles. Pay attention to the areas around the skimmer, return jets, stairs, and corners.
  • If you cannot find visible damage, you can use a dye test to locate the hole. Fill a small bottle with food coloring or pool dye and squeeze a few drops near the suspected area. If there is a hole, the dye will be sucked into it.
  • Once you find the hole, you can patch it with a vinyl repair kit. Make sure the pool liner is dry and clean before applying the patch. Follow the instructions on the kit and let it cure for at least 24 hours.

Does Flex Seal Work On Inflatable Pools?

Flex Seal doesn’t work on inflatable pools, but the company’s Flex Tape product can seal a vinyl leak. Flex Seal isn’t waterproof enough to handle the water pressure in a swimming pool, especially if the leak is on the bottom of the pool. You can lay a thin strip of Flex Tape over the hole while waiting for your vinyl patches to arrive.

Place a strip of Flex Seal’s Flex Tape on the inside and outside of the vinyl where the leak is. Press and hold the tape for about a minute, then let it go. For the best results, round the edges of the tape to prevent the corners from sticking up.

This method also helps the tape blend in. Remember that you can layer this tape over a pre-existing vinyl patch.

Flex Tape Rubberized Waterproof Tape, 12 inches x 10 feet, Gray

Before you use Flex Tape (or any Flex product) on your vinyl leaks, remember these helpful tips:

  • While Flex Tape can be applied underwater, it works best when vinyl is dry.
  • Flex Tape doesn’t last as long as vinyl repair kits; it shouldn’t be seen as a complete patch replacement.
  • Flex Tape has many different types and imitators, so ensure you get the Flex Seal brand tape.
  • You can also use Flex Tape on pool floats and other vinyl surfaces around the swimming pool.
  • Flex Tape comes in many sizes, so ensure you get the correct size for the leak in your pool.

Flex Tape is an excellent choice for those who don’t have a vinyl patch at their house. However, it’s less efficient and useful than a traditional vinyl repair kit. It’s better to choose a kit designed for swimming pools if you intend to patch it for many years to come.


Is there a drop in water level?

One of the indicators of a possible leak in a plumbing system is a drop in water level. A drop in water level means water is escaping from the pipes or fixtures somewhere in the system. This can lead to wasted water, increased bills, and potential damage to the property.

You can use a water meter, a pressure gauge, or a visual inspection of the pipes and fixtures to detect a drop in water level. If you notice a drop in water level, contact a licensed plumber as soon as possible to locate and fix the leak.

 Are there any cracks or holes in the pool liner?

The most important steps in maintaining a swimming pool is to inspect the pool liner regularly for any signs of damage. Cracks or holes in the pool liner can cause water leakage, which can damage the pool structure and equipment and increase the risk of algae growth and chemical imbalance.

To check for cracks or holes in the pool liner, you should follow these steps:

  • Drain the pool water to a level where you can see the entire surface of the pool liner.
  • Use a flashlight to examine the pool liner carefully for any cracks or holes. Pay special attention to areas where the liner meets the pool wall, floor, or fittings, as these are more prone to wear and tear.
  • Mark any cracks or holes you find with a waterproof marker or tape.
  • If you find any cracks or holes in the pool liner, you should contact a professional pool repair service as soon as possible to fix them. Do not attempt to patch the liner yourself, as this may void the warranty and cause further damage.

Is there any water seeping out of the pool equipment?

Signs of a pool leak are water loss from the pool equipment. Inspect the pump, filter, heater, and other components to check for any signs of water seeping out.

If you notice any wet spots, drips, or puddles around the equipment, you may have a leak that must be repaired immediately. Leaking pool equipment can cause damage to the surrounding area and increase your water bills.


  • Jonah Ryan

    Jonah has worked for several years in the swimming pool industry installing and repairing equipment, treating pools with chemicals, and fixing damaged liners. He also has plumbing and electrical experience with air conditioning, ceiling fans, boilers, and more. When he's not writing for Temperature Master, he's usually writing for his own websites, and

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