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#479085 - 12/05/13 05:02 PM Cistern Leak  
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 86
Safecracker Offline
Safecracker  Offline
Does anyone know of anyone on the Island who specialises in this .
I have a slow leak, quater inch per day, from about a 15000 gallon cistern.
Anyone else had the same problem and managed to solve it.

Thanks in Advance

"Life goes on despite others attempts to ruin it"
#479136 - 12/06/13 06:29 AM Re: Cistern Leak [Re: Safecracker]  
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 73
1bzman Offline
1bzman  Offline
Armando Graniel

#479197 - 12/07/13 04:22 AM Re: Cistern Leak [Re: Safecracker]  
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 5,945
Diane Campbell Offline
Diane Campbell  Offline
Your cistern has been in place for many years without leaks, so a recent leak would seem likely to be more related to plumbing than the concrete tank itself. Just a guess - but more likely than a failure of a concrete system. We did have an earthquake some years back, but still .....
If you do have a leak in the concrete tank itself, the way to find it is to let the water continue to go down until it stops - then go into the tank with a flashlight and look around the water-line. Any crack would be right there. A commercial sealant or concrete plaster applied to the crack or chink in the wall should seal it well.
PS - the good news is that your tank holds well over 20,000 gallons.

#479209 - 12/07/13 05:27 AM Re: Cistern Leak [Re: Diane Campbell]  
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 86
Safecracker Offline
Safecracker  Offline
Diane, thanks for that.
We did have a confirmed leak about 18months ago. There was a small hole crack where the floor joins the wall. The tank was emptied and repaired and seemed to hold until we had this last lot of rain. The leak is not plumbing as the level is dropping with the pump turned off. I have spent about 2 hours in there inspecting it and have found nothing. Generally it is in very good condition. I am thinking the increased pressure from being full has caused the problem. A few weeks ago we were 3 quarters full and the leakage was happening faster than it is now, we are currently half full and it has slowed a lot.
Looking on the internet suggests a product that is a crystallised waterproofing will work better than elastomeric paint covering. This is a chemical treatment for concrete the produces a non-soluble crystalline formation in the pores and micro-cracks of the concrete plugging them against water seepage. It has been used successfully for this problem. I can source the product in Guatemala and thats the way I am going to try and fix it. The tank needs to be emptied and have two coats of the product applied within 48 hours.

Our Casita also has the problem but the leak is much faster.

I guess for the age of the property it's not unexpected that this stuff can happen.
having done the research I am pretty sure it can be fixed with relative ease.



"Life goes on despite others attempts to ruin it"
#479211 - 12/07/13 06:48 AM Re: Cistern Leak [Re: Safecracker]  
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,994
ragman Offline
ragman  Offline
Martin, first off I wouldn't consider myself an expert in this area but in the USA I use a Vulcan Caulking to stop water leaks in concrete (not cisterns) and it is quite effective. I put it on with the caulking gun and spread it with a paint stick or similar. If the leak is in the floor to wall joint you would need a product like this, I believe. I use it on floor/wall and cracks. Of course I would check on its' suitability for potable water for your purposes. It works really well in my experience and came highly recommended by a large masonry supplier. In general specialty caulking has improved greatly in the last ten years or so.

Now if the leaking is seepage through the concrete there are several painted on products that are used. I inspected a new cistern several weeks ago, more to do with other matters concern the piping, the workmen where in the process of putting on a few coats of this product. I believe, but I'm not entirely sure that it came from Benny's in Belize City or maybe they brought it in special order. I doubt this product would work on a wall to floor joint but I learn something new everyday.

1bzman suggested you talk to a reputable contractor and this is wise advice. They know what works and what doesn't as well as availability.

Timing for this problem is terrible as the rains are about done. You'll end up having to buy water I guess. Good luck.

Formerly from somewhere on a beach in Belize
#479218 - 12/07/13 11:04 AM Re: Cistern Leak [Re: ragman]  
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 86
Safecracker Offline
Safecracker  Offline
Jim, thanks four your input.
The hole I had previously was about inch and half diameter and half inch deep, it was plugged with hydraulic cement (this expands as it dries as opposed to shrinking). Then the whole seam of that wall was rendered at a 45 degree angle 12 inches up and 12 inches in. I was happy with the repair and it seemed to fix the problem. I now don't have any visible cracks or damage. So I think I need to surface coat the whole thing. I would be interested to know the name of the product you saw being used if it is possible to find that out.

"Life goes on despite others attempts to ruin it"
#479219 - 12/07/13 11:29 AM Re: Cistern Leak [Re: Safecracker]  
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,994
ragman Offline
ragman  Offline
I'm in the USA right now but I will be back about the first week of Jan. I'll try to get it but maybe a call to Benny's with an inquiry would be quicker. Again I'm not sure if that was where it came from but a few other items with that shipment did.

I've used hydraulic cement before but I believe the bond of this caulking I talked about is better. With what you describe however, the paint on application sounds like the correct way to proceed provided the hydraulic cement is stable. The product that was being used in this cistern needed 3 days to cure before we could put water in.

Again good luck and please let me know how you make out. Again a lot of this is a learning process for me.

Formerly from somewhere on a beach in Belize
#479222 - 12/07/13 02:54 PM Re: Cistern Leak [Re: Safecracker]  
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 333
Wizardofaahs Offline
Wizardofaahs  Offline
Jim, do you think the Vulcan caulk would be appropriate for a less han 1/4" w x 6'L crack in the wall of a pool? 50,000 gal pool and doesn't go all the way through the gunnite.

Words have power. Speak it into existence.
#479231 - 12/07/13 08:35 PM Re: Cistern Leak [Re: Wizardofaahs]  
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,994
ragman Offline
ragman  Offline
yes, that is just what I have used it for in the past. If I was trying to do a larger space I'm not sure. Maybe in that case hydraulic cement would be best. I've used it after cutting the crack out larger with a diamond wheel but in the same instance I believe Vulcan would have been better. Now keep in mind that the surface of Vulcan does not get hard and stays soft for some time but its' bond to the cement and forms a leak proof joint. It too, works better after cutting out the joint.

One thing that I've been thinking about and haven't tried yet for waterproof type joints is the landscape caulking used for putting cement block retaining walls together. Last summer I was going to use this caulking to build a waterproof wall which was really a cellar window. The supply house told me that this would do the job and make it waterproof. As it turned out I found another method that didn't require that I block out the window.

I have used landscape caulking to build retaining walls and I thought it was real strong. One time I had some extra and built a little wall around a gas shut off that was just below grade after some landscaping. As luck would have it the gas company showed up a week later and couldn't use the shutoff because there wasn't enough of room. I thought OK, I give it a few whacks with a small hammer and break it free from the foundation of the house. No way, I had to break the block away and then later chisel off the caulking. I couldn't believe how strong it was. Much stronger than the solid concrete block and it cures hard in 24 hrs.

When you are repairing a leak from the inside it is easier than work I've done from the outside. The water pressure on the inside which is .434 lbs. per squ. inch per ft. of height is pushing in your favor insuring the caulking will not be blown out.

Now like I said Vulcan stays soft on the surface for a very long period of time so there may very well be another caulking which would be better suited for a pool type of repair. Their are many pool experts around so this should be an easy resolve.

I'll tell ya there are so many new products out there that are very good, you have to rely of a reparable supply house. I think some of these relatively new products are not known in Belize. For instance I've seen Spanish tile put down on cement with a silicon or latex caulking adhesive. Well I guess that was good several years ago but the new landscaping adhesive is so strong that I'm thinking of giving that a trial on a slab of cement. I'll bet it is better and will stand up to strong winds much better.

Many times, I believe products are used because they are readily available and not necessarily the best. Please understand that I do not claim to be an expert on concrete leak repair/bond and my life before I retired was in a different universe. Please if you find a good solution post it so we all can learn.

One last thought on your question. 50K or 500k gallons means nothing. It is the height of the water which is always .434 lbs. per squ. inch per foot of height. Many people can not understand this. It doesn't make any difference if we are talking about say, a 3' dia. circle or a 10'. It is the same although many might not think so. It is I assure you. It is the height of the water that makes the difference. Whether a 1" tube or a 10' dia. the pressure per squ. inch is the same.

ps Wizardofaahs that first sentence is misleading. It was a late night. Vulcan stays soft for weeks maybe months so in a swimming pool I don't think it would be very good. You need a hard finish. Maybe the land scrape caulking would work but it would not flex to any movement because it bonds read good and real hard in hours. Movement probably is not a consideration I would think. Again please ask someone who does this type of work routinely.

Last edited by ragman; 12/08/13 05:28 AM. Reason: ps

Formerly from somewhere on a beach in Belize
#479242 - 12/08/13 07:13 AM Re: Cistern Leak [Re: Safecracker]  
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,160
Phil Offline
Phil  Offline
Captain Sharks. Tube of 5200 Marine Sealant, works above or below water line. Messy stuff to work with but works.

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