How much water (and money) should pools lose to evaporation?

It’s not just lawns thirsty for rain in parched Palm Beach County.

Pools are guzzling water too as owners turn on the hose to keep up with what’s sacrificed to the sun.

Up to a quarter-inch of pool water can evaporate per day depending on variables such as shade, wind and swimmer activity, i.e. splashing, cannonballs.

With below-normal rainfall this month, and little in the forecast, pool refills from Mother Nature must be supplemented or pool pumps will start sucking air.

Tim Woodward, senior director of operations for pool leak detection and repair company Red Rhino, said business people may blame the extra pool refills on a leak, when it’s really evaporation.

To determine if your pool is leaking, place a bucket of water on the first step of your pool and after a week, compare the amount of water lost in the pool with the bucket. If it is the same, it shows the water is evaporating and there is no leak.

To determine if your pool is leaking, place a bucket of water on the first step of your pool and after a week, compare the amount of water lost in the pool with the bucket. If it is the same, it shows the water is evaporating and there is no leak.

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Evaporation can be a drain on the wallet. For a pool sized 14 feet by 28 feet, losing a quarter inch of water per day amounts to about 61 gallons daily.

Robert Nelton, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Water Department, did the math on how much 61 gallons per day would add to the monthly bill — about $18.

But for a large pool that is 20 x 40 feet, it’s up to $33.50 per month with 125 gallons lost daily.

To ensure the pool is just suffering evaporation and not a leak, Woodward and Susan Eldred, co-owner of Pinch-A-Penny pool store in Palm Beach Gardens, said owners should conduct a bucket test.

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061415 RES Corcoran pool

Basically, fill a bucket with water, set it on the first step of the pool, and measure the distance between the lip of the bucket and the water level. Do the same with the pool. The water should evaporate about equally in each.

If the pool water is much lower than the water in the bucket after a few days, there may be a leak.

“If the bucket water is lower, the dog’s been drinking out of the bucket,” Eldred said with a laugh.

While there is no discussion of water restrictions, even during the worst of Palm Beach County’s dry spells, pool refills were still allowed. But anyone emptying a pool had to do so onto a lawn or unpaved surface.

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