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How Do I Find a Leak in My Pond?
To find a leak in your pond, you must first turn off the pump and let the pond sit for a day. If the water level in the pond drops, you know the leak is in the pond. If the water level of the pond does not drop, your leak is in the waterfall or plumbing.
If you determine the leak to be in the pond, leave the pump off and let the water level drop until it stops losing water. The leak is going to be found at this level of the pond. You will need to look for a hole or puncture in your pond liner. If you find a hole, you will need to patch it before filling the pond.
It is important to note that if your pond has a skimmer, the screws and inserts might have corroded away weakening the water tight seal between the pond liner and the skimmer (this usually happens about 10 years after installation). To confirm this, look around the inside and outside of the skimmer opening. If the screws or inserts show signs of erosion, they will need to be replaced.
If you have a leak in a preform or concrete pond, you can use the above method to find the leak. That being said, preform and concrete ponds are notorious for cracking and fixing these cracks is sometimes impossible.
If your leak is not in the pond, you need to determine if it is in the waterfall or tubing. For this, you will need a test pipe, a pipe that hooks up to your pump and is long enough to reach your waterfall. Attach one end of the test pipe to your pump and place the other end of the pipe at the bottom of your waterfall. Run your pump overnight. If the pond does not lose water after 12 hours, move the test pipe 5 feet up the waterfall and run the pump overnight. Repeat this process until you reach the top of the waterfall. If at any point the pond begins to lose water, you can determine that the leak is somewhere within that section of the waterfall. To find the leak, you need to remove any rock and gravel from that section of waterfall and look for a hole in the liner. Patch any holes before running the waterfall.
Ponds with biological filters at the top of the waterfall will also need to determine if that is leaking. As with skimmers, biological filters also have screws and inserts that can corroded away. Plug up the hole at the bottom of the unit and place the test pipe in the filter. Run the pump overnight. If the water level goes down, the biological filter is leaking, else the tubing has a leak.
Most leaks are found in the waterfall of a pond. Check the edges of the waterfall for wet spots; these are a telltale sign of a low spot in the liner. To fix these, pull the liner up above the water level and backfill with soil. Also check the biological filter when the waterfall is running. If the spillway lip is blocked, water might seep over the back or sides of the unit. Fix this by clearing the spillway lip of debris, algae, and aquatic plants (ie water hyacinths).
If you reach the top of the waterfall with your test pipe (explained above) and still have not found the leak, the leak is going to be in the tubing. If this is the case, remove the test pipe, hook your pump up to your existing tubing and run the pump for 20 minutes. After, walk up the line of tubing looking for any wet spot in the ground. If you see a wet spot, odds are the tubing is cracked somewhere in that vicinity. If no wet spot is found, you will need to dig up the tubing. Start by digging up the connections to the skimmer and biological filter first as those are common places to find a leak.
Fix tubing leaks by cutting out the cracked section of pipe (6 inches beyond the crack on both sides) and replacing with new tubing using adequate fittings.
Photo 1 - Shows a Small Pinhole Leak in Tubing
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