Q: What should I do if I have a power outage over the winter and my aeration stops?
Johnny – Point Marion, PA
A: Power outages happen. Whether they’re caused by Mother Nature, like hurricane Sandy, or the result of an accident or a blown transformer, chances are pretty good that you’ll contend with at least one lights-out experience this winter—but your chandelier won’t be the only thing not electrified.
Out in your lake or water garden, your aeration system will also shut down when the electricity stops. No aeration for an extended period of time means your pond’s water quality could suffer and your fishes’ health could be compromised.
Don’t worry: If you’re prepared, a power outage won’t be a big deal at all. Here’s what you need to know.
Your Fish will be Fine …
As long as the water temperature remains cold and your pond is relatively free of dead or decomposing debris, your fish will survive the power outage without even blinking an eye.
Thanks to one of the many unique properties of water, cold water retains more dissolved oxygen than warm water. “Think about how much bubblier a cold soda is compared to a warm one,” describes the United States Geological Survey. “The cold soda can keep more of the carbon dioxide bubbles dissolved in the liquid than the warm one can, which makes it seem fizzier when you drink it.”
It’s the same thing with oxygen. Colder water molecules are more densely packed and can therefore hold more oxygen, which your fish and other pond inhabitants need to survive.
In addition, the pond should not have a lot of dead or decomposing materials, like leaves and plant matter. All that breaking-down vegetation depletes the water of oxygen while imbuing it with harmful toxic gases like ammonia.
Bottom line: If your water is cold and your pond is clean when the power goes out, your finned friends will be just fine, short-term.
Service & Protect Your Aerator
After the power is restored and the candles are blown out, plan to head out to your aeration system and assess the situation. Any built-up air pressure could prevent the aerator from turning back on, so you’ll need to relieve the air pressure by pulling the relief valve or disconnecting the airline before you turn the system back on again. In addition, condensation could form on the motor, which will need to be wiped down to prevent rust from forming.
To protect your aerator from the elements—which could cause an isolated power outage in your pond or lake—make sure it’s protected. Larger units, such as those for ponds and lakes, should be in a cabinet; smaller units, such as those for water gardens, should be hidden within a faux rock, like the Pond Logic® TruRock™ Small Boulder Cover. It’s designed to blend into the landscape while protecting pond equipment.
Pond Talk: In case of long-term power outage, would you ever use a generator to power your aerator? Why or why not?