A Bucket Test is a great way to determine whether or not your pool and/or spa is leaking. A Bucket Test will not tell you where the leak is. It answers the question, "is my pool leaking". Doing a Bucket Test can save you the cost of paying for a leak detection if you pool is not leaking.
A Bucket Test essentially, measures the difference between standard evaporation (2"-3" per week) and the amount of water being lost in the pool or spa. If the body of water being tested is losing more water than the bucket, it may be time for a leak detection.
To conduct a proper leak detection, the pool and spa need to be isolated from one another. The best way to do this is to put the whole system in spa mode (i.e. the valves should be turned in the direction they are when you use the spa). Put a separate bucket in the each body of water being tested.
1) turn equipment off for 5-7 days, do not allow anyone to use the pool or spa, and place equipment in "spa mode"
2) turn off any autofill or fill lines
3) fill a 5 gallon bucket to a level where it does not float away in the water (you can fill the bucket to any height as long as there is at least 12" of water in the bucket). If the bucket continues to float away, a brick or rock can be used to secure it
4) place the bucket in the water, on a step or somewhere where the pool will not fill it
5) mark the inside of the bucket and the outside of the bucket at the water level using a "sharpie", wax crayon, or tape
6) monitor for a difference in water loss between the inside and outside of the bucket
The inside of the bucket will measure evaporation and should lose 2"-3" of water in a week The outside will measure the body of water being tested. If the outside drops more than the inside, there is a leak. If each move together, there is likely not a leak.
There are many ways to read a bucket test and many different scenarios. Please feel free to contact Poolmax if you have ANY questions.