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How To Troubleshoot And Fix Your Leaking Pond

Every season we fix quite a few leaks and most of them are pretty simple to spot. Don't panic if you are losing a lotof water, it will likely be much easier to find the leak. Of course sometimes there is more than 1 leak ! Here are the troubleshooting steps we use to locate leaks...

Step #1 - Turn off your EquipmentTurn off any waterfalls, water features - all the pumps. Isolate your vortex by closing the gate valve. Of course care must be given to the fish in terms of extra aeration and water quality if the filter and waterfalls are to be off

It is very important to mark your level and take notes in regards to the water loss. Date, weather, amount of water lost etc. will all be helpful down the road

If no water is lost from the pond then you can conclude the pond is holding water. Ergo, something is likely awry with the waterfall or other pump related feature like a filter. This is a very common scenario. You can now focus on the waterfall. I often use a regular plant moisture meter to locate areas that are wet. Collection holes can be dug, run the falls and see which ones fill up. Stick with it, pull things apart if you have to

If the pond level goes down, proceed to step #2 [this does not discount a problem with the waterfalls too]

#2 - Let the Pond sit until it Stops Losing WaterYou must now let the pond drain down to a point where it stops leaking. This could take a day, days, or even a week or two, dependant on what rate the pond is leaking and how far down the leak is. But the water should eventually cease to drop or show negligible loss from one day to the next. Again, you must take measurements and notes on a daily basis as you can easily forget and lose track of what is actually occurring

Now that the water has stopped dropping, scan the water line at the liner. Is there a skimmer along the waterline ? Some other perforation in the liner such as a jet ? 9 times out of 10 that is your problem. Examine and replace and/or repair as necessary. If you have examined the water line and there is nothing obvious, proceed to step #3

If the water stops dropping along the rock line, you could have a more serious issue, particularly if the leak is under a rock. Collection holes should be dug, the pond filled and wait until a collection hole fills with water. Then start digging in that area and you may have to lift some stones up but you should be able to find the leak

Step #3 - Examine the LinerYou now have to get in your pond. Carefully move around the perimeter taking a very close look at the liner. Your face needs to be 6 inches from the liner to really examine it. Remember, it does not take a very large hole to loose a lot water over time

If you can't find anything then the next step is to raise the water about 1 inch, again making notes of the levels. You can now perform a milk or ink test.This test involves using an eye dropper or syringe full of milk or ink or even potassium permanganate if you like. These liquids have different densities to water and will form clouds. Squirt a small amount out just below the surface and right into the liner and observe the clouds. Move around the perimeter and if you have a leak, you will notice the clouds of your chosen substance moving in little streams out of your pond. You have found your leak


Finding a leak can be a long process. Be patient. Take accurate notes as to what troubleshooting was done and what conclusions are drawn. Did it rain? How much? Most of this preliminary process needs to be completed by the homeowner before we arrive case study Sometimes troubleshooting these problems can be very very tricky

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