Fix-A-Leak is an emulsion product that acts like platelets and plasma that forms a blood clot over skin cuts. Microscopic layers of sodium silicate pile on top of each other to form a clot, and seal up small holes, cracks and voids, up to 1/8″ wide.
It works. Although it may not always work, it can be a semi permanent repair if applied correctly. It all depends on the problem you are trying fix with Fix-A Leak. However, it is a thorough procedure that should only be used as a last resort.
The Fix a Leak procedure should only be used after thorough testing to locate a pool leak or to isolate the leak to a specific plumbing line such as a drain, skimmer or return line. It is best to locate the leak using a leak detection specialist, then to dig it up and to replace any broken PVC pipes or fittings. To find the leak in the pool’s shell or gasketing and repair it. Fix-A-Leak is the best option for the moment.
While Fix-A–Leak can repair small hot tub or spa leaks of any kind, it is not a quick fix. It does however require some process. You don’t just pour it in the pool and walk away. I spoke with the people from Marlig at a recent pool trade show event, and they impressed on me how important the process is, to correctly use Fix-A-Leak or Stop Leak in a pool or spa.
Pools with many very small voids or widespread cracking
There are situations where a vinyl liner can suffer track or golf cleats, or small slits from a skateboard or other non-pool toys. You can repair it with vinyl repair sealant. However, if you have very small holes (not tears or large holes), Fix-A-Leak treatment can be used. For gunite or fiberglass pools that have small, slow leaks, or seepers and weepers that have eluded your best leak detection efforts, you can also try the Fix-A-Leak “Shotgun” technique, and put enough of it (1 Qt per 20,000 Gallons), to hopefully plug the leak, or at least slow it somewhat.
1. You can bypass the filter. You can quickly clog your filter with Fix-A-Leak. For Push-Pull and Cartridge filters, set the Multiport valve for Recirculation. If you have a Push-Pull slide or Cartridge filter, take out the DE grids and filter sand and reassemble your tank tightly, but without using any filter media. Be sure your chlorine level is on the high side, as you won’t be filtering for a few days. 2. For ten minutes, soak Fix-A-Leak into a bucket of warm tap water. Mix the contents together by shaking for 30 seconds. 3. Add Fix-A-Leak immediately to the pump. 1 Qt (32 Oz) for every 20,000 gals of pool water 4. After Fix-A-Leak has been sucked into a pump, adjust the suction valves. Keep the skimmers closed for the most part, then open the main drain valve completely. Fix-A-Leak can be heavy, so adjust the valves to draw mainly from the main drainage. Or set up a pool vacuum head and hose, and place it in the most deep part of your pool. To stir up Fix-A-Leak, use your pool brush (without a bag). 5. For 8-10 hours, continue to run the Pump. After that, turn off the pump and continue to run it for between 48-72 hours. Continue brushing about 3-4 times per day to mix up the emulsion. You can add water as needed to maintain water levels. 6. Vacuum the pool to eliminate silicate material. If necessary, return filter to operation and shock the pool to increase chlorine level. If you are unable to vacuum to waste, take out the DE grids/cartridges from the tank and wash them with water.
Cracks or voids around wall and floor fittings
Anytime a pipe, drain, skimmer or pool light comes through a wall, there is a potential for leaks. To determine if there are leaks, these can be dye-tested (with the pump off). Once again, chipping out the problem area, packing it with plaster mix, epoxy pool putty or replacing the gasket around a leaking fitting on a vinyl swimming pool may be the best option. A squeeze bottle can be used to fix small leaks around rail sockets, light fixtures, rail sockets, skimmers, and return holes.
1. The pump should be turned off and the water allowed to remain still. 2. Put Fix-A-Leak into warm water for 10 minutes. Then, shake the container for 30 seconds to mix it well. 3. To administer the Fix-A-Leak underwater, transfer it to a squeeze bottle of ketchup or water bottle. 4. Slowly squeeze out any emulsion. If it is leaking it will be pulled into the crack with Fix-A-Leak. 5. After many treatments, test for leakage with dye. Give the pump 48 hours before turning it on.
Cracks or voids in PVC pipe
When you have isolated your pool leak, through a series of if-then testing, down to one or two particular plumbing lines, you can use Fix-A-Leak to repair cracked pipes or fittings, when damage is not extensive. The best way to repair a pool leak is to locate it using listening devices. Next, cut the deck and dig the pipe down. Or abandon an existing line and run a new one from the break back to the equipment pad. However, if you want to use Fix-A-Leak to seal up underground plumbing cracks, it does work when applied using what the manufacturer Marlig refers to as ‘reversing the water flow’.
1. You will need to cut the pipe that is leaking from the equipment at a place that you can reconnect easily later. 2. 2.) Plug the other end of your pipe into the pool to isolate the section. For threaded 1.5″ skimmers, returns or drains, use a SP1022C plug with o-ring, or use a #8 or #9 winter expansion plug, to plug the pool end of the pipe. For 2″ lines use a #9 or #10 winter plug. If necessary, ensure that the tapered rubber plug fits tightly. 3. You can fill the pipe with water using a gardenhose. After shaking it well, add 1/2 cup (16 oz.) Fix-A-Leak directly where you cut it. 4. Connect the Drain King to the garden hose and insert it into your pipe. The hose spigot should be turned on gently, approximately 1/4 turn, so that the Drain King expands enough to fit the pipe. Let the hose run at low pressure for several hours. Shut off the water, add half a bottle (16 oz), and continue the process. Increase water flow to 1/2-way open for thirty minutes, then 3/4-open for 30 mins, then fully open for one hour at 10-20 PSI pressure. 5. 5.Remove the Drain King and fill the pipe with water. Mark the water level. Cover the pipe to stop evaporation. Check it again within 24 hours. Repeat treatment if water level has fallen. Once water level has stabilized and is holding, let it set for 24 hours. Then reassemble plumbing and remove any plugs from pool.
You will use the water pressure from the Drain King to push the emulsion into a crack in the pipe. It is done slowly at first and gradually increasing the pressure as the layers build.
You don’t have to use a Drain King to pressurize the line, you could also use plumbing fittings to create a pressure testing stick or hose adapter rig, or you don’t even have to use water, you can use an air compressor to pressurize the line to between 5-10 psi initially, then up to 10-20 psi afterwards.
And, you don’t even need to cut the pipe, as long as you can disassemble a valve, or use a long hose and funnel to deliver the Fix-A-Leak into the pipe, and insert the Drain King into the pump (facing towards the pool). The valves can be used to pressurize one line only.