How to Pinpoint Suction Side Air Leaks In A Pool

This guide will help you to find the source of an air leak. Air in a pool system can cause a number of problems. Losing the prime on a pool pump is the biggest issue because the pump could run dry and burn up. Signs that you have an air leak are bubbles in the pump strainer, a low PSI reading on the filter gauge, and bubbles at the return jets.

1. Air leaks are found on the suction side of the system. Common areas would include the pump lid, pump intake, diverter valves, fittings, and vacuum hoses.

Steps 2-5 discuss different methods on how to find the suction side air leak.

The pump should be running when looking for air leaks.

2. Smoke - Using the smoke from lit incense stick is one way to find an air leak. Hold the incense close to a suspected air leak. If there is a leak, the smoke will be drawn in. 

This method works well but it works best on a non-windy day.

3. Shaving Cream - Take some standard shaving cream and spread it around a possible leak area. A strong leak should draw in the shaving cream. You'll see little holes develop within the shaving cream.

This is an old trick from pool service professionals but we haven't had as much luck with this method.

4. Soapy Water - Mix some dish soap and water until it creates some good soapsuds. Spread the soapsuds along the suspected leak areas. If there is an air leak, the soapsuds will be sucked in.

This is our favorite method. It's very easy to recognize the movements of the bubbles if there is an air leak.

5. Water - Run water over the suspected leaks near the pump. If the bubbles disappear, you know you've found the leak.

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