Pools Leak, Grown Men Scream

Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.


That was the sound that shattered the mid-morning calm of my neighborhood.

We had two record-breaking days in the middle of April that saw the mercury break the 30 degree Celsius marker. This is most unusual for Ottawa in mid-April.

Inspired by this unexpected heat — brought on, no doubt, by global warming — I decided to get an early start on opening our above-ground pool. So I hauled out the various and sundry pieces of pool equipment and hooked everything up in only a few hours. I left the garden hose in the pool overnight to fill it up to a safe pumping level.

The next day, I commenced to vacuum up the thirty or forty pounds of debris that somehow managed to find its way to the bottom of our pool despite it being covered up all winter. I was about half done when I noticed a small geyser of water bubbling up from the bottom of the wall outside the pool.

A leak! Our pool was leaking. Worse, the leak was drawing away sand from the pool foundation. The way I reacted, you would have thought I’d discovered a uranium leak from our local nuclear reactor.

My first action was to utter a bad word. Then I called the pool store where we had purchased our pool only two years ago.

“My pool is leaking and it’s sucking the foundation out from underneath and it’s on the verge of collapse and there will be a nuclear winter over all the neighborhood,” I informed the young man at the pool place.

“It’s leaking? It’s only two years old, the liner shouldn’t be leaking. Are you sure?” the pool guy asked.

“Yes, yes, yes! I’m sure, I’m sure. Heeeelllppp!” was my calm reply.

The pool guy was helpful. He instructed me to drive across town to their store to pick up a pool liner patch kit, with underwater glue and everything. I didn’t like the sound of “underwater glue.”

“Can you see where the hole is?” asked the pool guy.

“I think it’s at the bottom of the pool, next to the wall, from where the water is coming out the other side,” I replied.

So the pool guy said, “No problem. Just get down there and glue a patch on.”

“But,” I said, “the bottom of the inside of the pool where I think the hole is, is under four-and-a-half feet of water, in mid-April, after six months of freezing temperatures, below zero, with ice and everything.”

“No problem,” said the pool guy. “If the patch doesn’t work, we will send out a dive team to do a vinyl weld.

“Can’t you send in the dive team first,” I asked.

He said, “No problem, I mean, no, we can’t, you have to try to patch it yourself first.”

Hmmmm, must be some sort of pool owner initiation ritual.

So I drove out to get the patch kit and decided to attempt my patch job the next day. But Mother Nature can be a cruel naughty word. Having toyed us with two days of the effects of global warming, she decided to switch to global cooling for the next few days and visited several April snowstorms to my neighborhood.

But a pool leak waiteth not for the right weather and it had to be patched. So, in between snowstorms, I donned my own version of a diving suit – sweat pants, a t-shirt, and my kid’s pair of cheap plastic goggles – and entered the pool.

As I mentioned above, this was when the neighborhood calm was shattered. As a precautionary measure, I had my wife stationed by the leak to inform me of my progress, and to inform the paramedics should I suffer a heart rupture.

Up and down I went trying to install the patch over the right spot. You don’t realize how hard it is to stay underwater at the bottom of a pool until you really try. Each time I surfaced, my wife encouraged me along with the following words; “you’re making it worse.” She was right; the leak was getting worse. So I gave up and emerged from the pool just as the next snowstorm struck. I could hear my neighbors muttering something about “insanity” as I shook and shimmied my way to the warmth of our home.

The next day, I managed to convince the pool guy to send in the professionals. Two of them arrived and began inspecting the pool liner from the outside of the pool.

“Here’s your leak,” one of them said.

He showed me a small tear in the liner about ten inches from the top of the pool, well within easy reach from the outside of the pool. They had it patched up in a few minutes.

“I guess you went into the pool yesterday for nothing,” the other guy said.

Exercising superhuman restraint, I simply thanked them and sent them on their way, vowing never ever to open the pool again until late August.

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