Leak in Return Fitting

by Rob
(Chattanooga, TN)

I just installed a new liner, skimmer box and return jet. The return jet has a very small leak on the outside of the pool. In between the edge of the backing plate and the wall of the pool, there is a very small leak, maybe one very small drop of water every 20-30 seconds. It seems to be soaking in the sand at the bottom of the pool and not even causing a damp spot at the bottom.

Should I be concerned? My solution would be to drain the pool below the jet, disassemble, clean out the jet, apply silicone and install. I'll do it if I need to, but I'm just not sure that it's warranted to dump the water and start over. If it can go for now, I figure that I can do it when I drain the pool slightly for winter storage.

Hi Rob.

I'm not one to be overly concerned about every little drip on my own pool, but some people are. Leaks in the skimmer or return fittings on an above ground pool could lead to a rust issue if left unattended. If your return has a butterfly gasket, a one piece gasket that wraps around the pool wall, the water is not coming in direct contact with the inside of the pool. It is only dripping down the outside which is not a concern. Without this type of gasket to protect the wall I would be a little more concerned. This is an area where you would have to use you best judgment.

The other problem with leaky returns and skimmers is the water eroding the ground on the outside of the pool and possibly causing the pool cove to wash out. You have indicated just enough water to keep the sand moist so this is probably not an issue, just something to keep in mind.

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Leaky Return Fitting

by Joan
(Olive Branch,Ms.)

The liner is in and we filled the pool and it looks great, one tip that we found helpful was after putting the liner in we placed a shop vacuum 1/3 of the way down between the wall of the pool and the liner in the skimmer location and taped it shut along with the return hole and turned on the shop vacuum and it pulled out all the air and we could see where the liner would sit when the water was in.

We have a slow drip on the out side of the pool at the return hose. We replaced the part and new gaskets but it still has a slow leak. Can that be over tightened? What do I try next?

We have a deck going around it and 75% of the pool is in the ground some what because our yard is on a slope.

Hi Joan.

I'm glad you found using the vacuum helpful with installing your liner. It does work.

There are many different types of returns but the most popular is the Hayward. This information will work on other brands that are similar but this is mostly geared towards the Hayward above ground pool return fitting.

The biggest issue people have is not using the gaskets correctly. One rubber gasket goes on the inside of the pool, between the liner and the return fitting. The other rubber gasket goes on the outside, up against the wall. The cardboard looking gasket goes on the outside of the rubber gasket and up against the outside nut. The hard gasket keeps the rubber gasket from twisting as the nut is tightened.

I use the large 460 Channel Locks to tighten the outside nut, so it will take a lot of tightening.

With used return fittings that will not seal up it is usually a hairline crack where the threads meet the inside flange. When this happens the whole unit needs replaced.

Another consideration might be the surface of the wall at the return opening. Things like rust, sharp edges, left over silicone and other stuff could prevent the fitting from sealing.

Comments for Leaky Return Fitting

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May 17, 2014
leaking return line fitting
by: Anonymous

I have a leak in the return line around the gaskets or nut. I'm not sure, do I put thread tape under nut on threads?

Hi Tape might help but if the fitting is cracked it will still leak. It might need to be replaced.

Jun 25, 2014
small leak in outside of jet
by: Anonymous

A small drip every 5 secs..can I try a silicone sealer around black outside gasket or do I need drop water and replace?

Hi Replacing is better but silicone might work.

Jul 03, 2018
by: Marilyn at a loss!

I installed a new liner, filled it up and there was water on the outside. No water on the outside wall. Drained it below the return and skimmer and it dried up. Same man came and replaced skimmer face plate and gasket and the return gasket and silicone. Filled it back up and water on the ground again. So depressing!

Hi There is no way I could help without seeing it, I hope you figure it out.

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