Gunite inground leak in cement skimmer encasement

  • Last Post 10 July 2023
StlouisBob posted this 07 July 2023

Opened the pool this year without issues. Skimmer worked fine, good suction when vacuuming. 2 weeks ago had air bubbles coming out in return line and suction was bad so I know I have a pressure side leak. Replaced all the above ground pipes and fittings same issue when skimmer is on. Use main drain only, no issues. 

leak detection company is booked up all year. I've called plumbers and none will give a pool a look. I rented concrete saw to cut near the skimmer, cut, broke the cement, dug and found the skimmer and return 1 1/2 pvc almost on top of each other. I lowered the water below the skimmer and ran a hose from sink to skimmer with hot water, used laser temp gauge, bottom pipe. Cut a piece of metal, put between the 2 pipes and then noticed that the cement encasement that holds the skimmer basket to the gunite pool was damp, and the clay around it was wetter than other areas. This was 3 days after I used a wet concrete saw, which I would have to guess would have dried up from using the hose attachment keeping the blade cool. 

I cannot find anyone so far that can look, or replace the skimmer basket. I'm not even sure how to size a replacement except for the mouth opening. The pool is probably over 30 years old and don't see any manufacturing info on/in the skimmer. 

does anyone have any ideas?  I can still cut into the pvc pipe like I was planning, I was then going to reroute with new schedule 40 between the cement deck and a retaining wall, but am really leaning to the issue being at the skimmer basket connection to the pvc. 

thanks in advance for any help. 

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InyoRich posted this 10 July 2023

Hi Bob, we are very sorry to hear about that.  

Let me ask a few questions - is the pool level actually going down or do you suspect a leak due to the bubbles from vacuuming?  Did you change anything (your pump, filter, pool hose) from last year (there could be a leak in the pool hose as well)? The bubbles could be from cavitation from the pump trying to pull more water than it can get.  Is your vacuum hose crimped, collapsed, or damaged?

Skimmer leaks tend to be either at the connections or a crack in the skimmer body.  Use 2 part epoxy if you see a crack in the skimmer body or if there is a leak where the face of the skimmer meets the pool (dye can help find it).  You may need to use something like the Skimmer Saver if there is an issue with the pipe or fitting 6" or less from the skimmer bottom.  

Please keep us updated!

StlouisBob posted this 10 July 2023

The water level has gone down more than normal evaporation.  I did not change anything prior to the return bubbles and lack of suction, then I changed all of the above ground unions, valves, pvc, as well as the pump cover seal.  When the main drain only is on there aren't any air bubbles.  The skimmer body doesn't appear to have any cracks so I suspect it to be below the water line, especially since when I insert the vacuum hose there is little suction compared to earlier in the year.  the vacuum hose is not crimped or kinked.  I used pool dye and there wasn't any leak in the skimmer body.


The skimmer saver may be an option depending on the length of the skimmer saver, but I don't blieve there is 6" from the base of the skimmer/ bottom water line down. But I will measure later today.

InyoRich posted this 10 July 2023

I hope something works for you, since repairing or replacing the skimmer is quite a task.  I might recommend going to your local tool rental place and looking for a drain camera/snake to see if you can locate the leak.  It might be easier to find after vacuuming, assuming it sucks in at least a little dirt (the pipe would be clean up to the leak).