Bucket Test

The bucket test is a simple yet accurate test designed to identify a leak in a swimming pool or other large water container. This page outlines a step-by-step process on how to complete a bucket test, including how to accurately read the results.
[ We will use the term pool to categorize any large container of water. The bucket test can be used on containers that are not swimming pools as well. ]

  • Step 1: Bring the pool water level to it's normal set level.
  • Step 2: Fill a 5-gallon bucket with water until it is two-thirds from the top.
  • Step 3: Set the 2/3 filled bucket on the first or second step in the pool, and make sure it is stable. Make sure the bucket is immersed in the pool at least six inches or more, and make sure it is out of reach of animals that will try and drink out of it.
  • Step 4: Using a dark permanent marker, mark the water level inside the bucket.
  • Step 5: Shut off the pool pump and turn off the auto-fill.
  • Step 6: Using a dark permanent marker, mark the pool water level on the outside of the bucket.
  • Step 7: Do not swim in or use the pool for the next 24 hours.
  • Step 8: After 24 hours, compare the water level change inside and outside of the bucket. If the pool water outside of the bucket (outside mark) goes down more than the bucket’s inside water level, there is a leak. If the change in level is equal, then only evaporation has occurred.
  • In case of rain, repeat the bucket test. Expect water loss from normal evaporation. Test is invalid after 24 hours.

Typical evaporation:
A quarter-inch of water loss per day is most likely evaporation. The evaporation rate in your area will depend on humidity, sunlight intensity, barometric pressure, wind and the level of activity in the pool or spa.

After the bucket test is complete, you can calculate how many gallons the pool is leaking compared to evaporation.