Swimming pools are a great addition to any property. Whether you use your pool for exercise, entertaining or simply to lounge by the pool, they are always a welcome sight at the end of a long day. Swimming pools provide a stunning aesthetic to your landscape, and they also increase your home’s desirability.

Whether you do the pool upkeep yourself or hire a service, it’s important to check for leaks in your pool periodically. If you’ve been noticing a regular decrease in the water level of the pool, then it’s imperative to ensure you don’t have an issue that needs immediate attention.

There’s an easy way to test your pool for a leak with the bucket test. To perform this test, you’ll need a clean five-gallon bucket, a permanent marker or waterproof tape, a plastic cup, and a large rock or brick. The object of the bucket test is to see if your water level is going down at a faster than normal rate.

To prepare for the bucket test, make sure to turn off any auto-fill systems, pumps or waterfalls. In order to complete the test properly, the water must be as still as possible. Don’t start the test while there are still swimmers in the pool or during inclement weather, since the test results may be inaccurate.

When you’re ready to start the test, then place your bucket on your swimming pool’s top stair. Fill your bucket to the top with pool water (not hose water) and mark the outside of the bucket to match the pool’s water level. Now that your bucket test is set up, leave the pool unused for 1 day for a proper reading. After the day has passed, then look at the water level in the bucket. Measure how far down the water inside the bucket has dropped due to evaporation and compare that to how far the pool water has dropped on the outside of the bucket.  If the water level inside the bucket is in line with the pool water outside of the bucket, then your pool is good to go. If the water level outside of your bucket is much lower than the level in your bucket, it’s possible your pool does have a leak.

Evaporation is a normal part of owning a pool, especially in the heat of the summer. On average swimming pools can lose from 2-4 inches of water per week. Depending on the location of your swimming pool and the time of year, the evaporation rate will vary. For instance, if your home is in sunny Arizona the evaporation levels will be at the higher end of the spectrum. In the winter, the evaporation levels stay the same if your pool is heated due to the mix of hot water and dry, cool air. Keeping a cover on your pool during the winter will help to decrease the evaporation.

If your bucket test shows a big change in your swimming pool’s water level, then it’s wise to have your pool looked at by a technician. Leaks will erode your pool over time, and break down the structure of the pool.