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So you think you may have a pond leak or a leak in your water feature? Leaks can happen from time to time, but it can still be the worst feeling when you suddenly see a decrease in the water level. So what now? Don’t worry, this can happen to anyone and the majority of the time there is a simple solution and usually a simple fix!
Leak vs. Evaporation
Before you go about fixing a leak, it is important to understand if the water loss is even caused by a leak. With every water feature there will be some water loss due to splatter or evaporation. Here are some factors that can contribute to evaporation.
- Hot weather and wind can affect the evaporation rate of a pond or water feature. Evaporation is inevitable and can be misleading when it is hot out.
- It wouldn’t be uncommon to lose anywhere from 1-3 inches a week from evaporation, depending on the area you are in.
- Water features that have a lot of surface area, big streams and multiple waterfalls, tend to lose water faster due to evaporation and splatter.
- It is important to understand that some water loss is normal, but excessive water loss can mean problems!
Troubleshooting a Leak
The goal in troubleshooting leaks is to narrow down the search. Make sure to note a measurement on how much water loss is happening over a 24 hour period, while the system is up and running. This measurement is important to so you have a number to compare the test results to.
- Start by turning off / unplugging the motor(s). The same method works for a pond and pondless waterfall.
- Once everything is off (streams, waterfalls, etc.) top off the pond or basin to its maximum level for your starting point (mark it off).
- Allow the pond, basin or collection area to sit for at least 24 hours (without rain).
- If it’s hot and there are fish add an aerator to the pond to provide oxygen during this time.
- After the 24 hours mark off the water level. If the level has dropped, and then let sit another 24 hours.
- Repeat this until the water has stopped draining.
- If you have fish, and the pond continues to drain to dangerous levels the fish will need to be relocated to a separate holding tub.
- If the water never dropped, or dropped just a very small amount during the first 24 hour time period then the pond/basin can be eliminated from the search.
When the Water Has Stopped Dropping
- Check along that water level for the source of the leak (low edge, liner tear, failed skimmer seal, etc.). First check for the obvious; large rocks that may settled and weight down liner, wet mulch areas, wet gravel, even the skimmer to liner connection.
- Most low edges may be adjusted by a homeowner but something like a tear or failed seal usually need to be serviced by a trained professional.
- Once the source is repaired properly and tested, the water feature is able to be run again.
- Keep in mind that some water features could be leaking in multiple areas. So just because one leak is fixed doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is fixed. Check the streams, waterfalls and all the hardware to be sure.
What If The Pond Isn’t The Source of The Leak?
- Check your streams. For ponds with multiple streams try running one at a time to see which one is creating the water loss.
- If there is only one stream check the liner edges with the pump on and water running. Look for wet areas alongside the stream and waterfall.
- Check the plumbing, somewhere between where the water exits the pond and where it returns back into the pond. Plumbing is usually the toughest part to check because it is generally buried.
- In situations where leaks aren’t so easily found, it may be time to call a professional to have it looked at or fixed.