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I’m not running my waterfall over the winter. How do I shut it down? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I’m not running my waterfall over the winter. How do I shut it down?

Q: I’m not running my waterfall over the winter. How do I shut it down?

Valerie – Smithsburg, MD

A: You want to shut down your waterfall for the season? You’re not alone. When the outdoor temperatures dip, most people don’t spend a lot of time lounging outside by their pond enjoying the sound of running water.

Though a pond with ice formations can create a beautiful scene, shutting down your waterfall or stream when it’s not in use for the winter is a great way to save some money, prolong the life of your equipment, and prevent ice dams from forming and potentially draining your pond.

Putting your waterfall to bed for the winter can be done in just a couple of hours – or less if you have a helper. Here, we’ve outlined four simple steps to make the chore easy:

  1. First, remove the pump from your pond. Store it in a 5-gallon bucket filled with water in a place that will not freeze, like your garage or basement, so the seals do not dry out.
  2. Next, blow out your tubing with an air compressor. Though most tubing will be OK if water freezes in it, it’s still a good idea to blast away all the gunk and debris that could be in there. Don’t forget to cap it off to ensure no water or debris enters the tubing.
  3. If your pump is in a skimmer box, drain the water to slightly below the weir door. You can also place a milk carton or 2-Liter bottle about ¼ filled into the skimmer. This will alleviate some ice pressure on the skimmer walls.
  4. If you have biological filter media in your waterfall box, spray the filter media off with a hose to remove built-up gunk, and pump the water out of waterfall box and scrub it down. The filter media will be fine stored in the waterfall box for the winter.

Because your waterfall will be turned off and not oxygenating the water for your fish, don’t forget to run an aeration system. Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kit is ideal for infusing O2 into ponds up to 2,000 gallons; Airmax® KoiAir™ Aeration Kit handles ponds up to 16,000 gallons. Both are energy-efficient and can be run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Have you ever run your waterfall or stream all winter long? What was your experience?

Keep Your Pond Oxygenated All Winter - Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kit

I think there is a leak in my water garden, but how do I know? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I think there is a leak in my water garden, but how do I know?

Q: I think there is a leak in my water garden, but how do I know?

Abby – Pueblo, CO

A: What a conundrum! Determining whether you have a leak in your liner—and then finding and fixing it—can be a daunting task. But with a little detective work and these step-by-step instructions, your pond will be holding water again in no time.

A Leak or the Heat?

Let’s determine if you have a leaky pond in the first place. How much water are you losing per day? And what’s the temperature outside? On hot days, it’s common to lose up to an inch of volume from your water garden—but if it’s more than that, you may have a leak.

Finding the Leak

Common places for leaks to spring include around the pond’s perimeter, the area around your waterfall and pump, and your liner. When looking for the leak’s source, follow these steps:

Step 1 – Search for a Wet Spot: First, look for wet areas around the perimeter of your pond. Is water pooling somewhere? Are the weeds thicker or the grass lusher in one area than another? Check the low-lying areas where the liner may not be properly supported. If nothing looks amiss, head over to your waterfall pump.

Step 2 – Leak Check: The easiest way to determine whether the leak is in your liner or in your waterfall box is to turn off the waterfall pump (but keep your aeration going so the water stays aerated) and leave it alone for a few hours. When you come back:

  1. Is the water level the same? If so, your liner is not the culprit so you’ll need to check for problems with your waterfall box.
  2. Has the water level dropped? If so, you have a leaky liner. Jump to step 4.

Step 3 – Waterfall Worries: If your waterfall or waterfall box is the source of your leak, follow these steps to determine where the water could be escaping:

  1. Connections: First check the connections from the pump to the box. Are they loose and dripping, or are they tight?
  2. Cracks in the Box: Next, take a look at the waterfall box itself. Are there any cracks? Is the liner properly attached?
  3. Stream Leaks: Finally, inspect the rocks and liner around the waterfall and stream, making adjustments are needed. Try using some Waterfall Foam to stop water from flowing behind the rocks.

Step 4 – Your Leaky Liner: Finding a hole in a liner isn’t easy. But with a little perseverance, you can locate it and repair it. Here’s how:

  1. Track the Leak: Use Pond Logic® Pond Shade to visually track the leak. Simply add a few drops on the side and watch it as it finds its way to the leak. This will take some time, a few attempts—and patience.
  2. Let It Be: If you have trouble finding it with Pond Shade, let the water slowly go down. (Depending how low it goes, you may need to temporarily relocate your fish.) The water level should stabilize, which will allow you to visually inspect the first few inches of liner above the water surface for the hole.
  3. Repair the Leak: Once you find the hole, patch it up with self adhesive Liner Patch or use some Gold Label Pond Sealer.

Good luck with your search!

Pond Talk: Have you ever had a leak in your pond? How did you find out where it was coming from?

Control Water Flow - Atlantic® Waterfall Foam

Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond?

Q: Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond?

Debbie – Johnston, RI

A: Easy care is one of the most attractive features of a pondless waterfall, particularly for those who have a penchant for ponds but no time to perform routine maintenance on them. You get all the benefits of a water feature—the sound of running water, the added aesthetics in your garden space, even the plants and wildlife that it attracts—but you don’t have to deal with those pesky seasonal chores.

As ideal as they are, pondless water features do require some attention. Here are three simple steps to keep your waterfall looking its best:

1. Keep Your Water Clean and Clear

With no body of water, your pondless feature may not require you to remove muck, fish waste, decomposing leaves or other collected pollutants, but you still should keep the water looking clean and clear. Plan to periodically add some beneficial bacteria, like those found in Liquid Clear™, to gobble through any fine debris that may discolor your water or feed algae blooms.

2. Remove Buildup from Your Rocks

Rocks and other surfaces in your pondless waterfall will no doubt become breeding grounds for string algae and other debris, so take time to remove any buildup with an algaecide, like Algae-Off® String Algae Remover or Oxy-Lift™ Defense®. These fast-acting solutions use the power of oxygen to lift and wash away accumulated algae and muck. For best results, plan to turn off your system’s pump to ensure the powder contacts every surface, restarting it after the product has time to work.

3. Check Your Water Levels

Because the water basin is hidden, you can’t always see how much water there actually is in your pondless waterfall. To prevent your pump from drying up, make sure you periodically check the reservoir — or, better yet, add an auto-fill valve, like the PondBuilder™ Automatic Water Fill Kit, that will refill any water lost to splashing or evaporation. It’s easy to install and can be adapted to any garden hose, ½-inch irrigation line or vinyl tubing.

If things have really headed south, try performing a partial or complete water change along with using some beneficial bacteria. They will get you—and your pondless waterfall—back on track and ready for summer enjoyment.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite thing about your pondless waterfall or water feature?

Quickly Eliminate String Algae - CrystalClear® Algae-Off®

I am building a pond with a waterfall. With so many pump choices, how do I know what to choose? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I am building a pond with a waterfall. With so many pump choices, how do I know what to choose?

Q: I am building a pond with a waterfall. With so many pump choices, how do I know what to choose?

Linda – Broomall, PA

A: Fun springtime project ahead! As you’re discovering, building a pond with a waterfall involves some planning and careful consideration—which includes selecting a waterfall pump. Your choice is important because it’ll determine how high you can make your waterfall and how much water will flow down it.

You want more than a trickle, right? Before you go pump shopping, crunch these numbers first:

1. Head Pressure

How high will your waterfall be? This measurement is your head pressure, which is the total number of feet from the top of your waterfall to the top of your pond’s surface. If you’re building a 5-foot-high waterfall, for instance, your head pressure is 5 feet.

Pro tip: If the tubing from your pump to the waterfall is longer than 10 feet, add 1 foot of head pressure for every 10 feet. So in the example above, if your tubing is 14 feet, the head pressure would be 6 feet.

2. Flow Rate

How much water do you want pouring over the falls? This number is your flow rate. The average flow rate is 1,500 gallons per hour for every 1 foot of waterfall width. If your 5-foot-high waterfall is 1 foot wide, you should go with a pump that moves around 1,500 GPH; if it’s 3 feet wide, you should go with a pump that moves 4,500 GPH or so.

Pro tip: If you prefer a lighter water flow, calculate 1,000 GPH for every 1 foot of waterfall width. For a heavier flow, use 2,000.

Going Shopping

With those numbers in hand, you should have a pretty good idea what kind of waterfall pump you’ll need to buy. To make the chore easier for you, we recommend:

For lower-flow waterfalls: If you’re designing a smaller waterfall, check out The Pond Guy® MagFlo™ Pump and The Pond Guy® SolidFlo™ Pump. The MagFlo™ line includes 290, 460 and 590 GPH models with maximum head of 6½ to 7½ feet; the low-profile SolidFlo™ line includes 600, 1,200 and 1,600 GPH models with maximum head of 8 to 11½ feet.

For higher-volume waterfalls: If you’ve got a mini-Niagara Falls in the works, you’ll need a beefier pump, like The Pond Guy® RapidFlo™ or the ShinMaywa® Norus® waterfall pumps. The RapidFlo™ comes in 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 GPH models with 20 to 32 feet of maximum head pressure. The Norus® line includes 3,300 to 11,000 GPH models with maximum head of 19 to 48 feet.

Pond Talk: What advice would you give to someone choosing a waterfall pump?

Vreate Breathtaking Waterfalls & Streams - ShinMaywa® Norus® Waterfall Pumps

Do I have the right filtration system for my pond, or do I need to upgrade? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Do I have the right filtration system for my pond, or do I need to upgrade?

Q: Do I have the right filtration system
for my pond, or do I need to upgrade?

Dee – Russell Springs, KY

A: Pond filtration can be tricky—and confusing. Mechanical filtration is designed to remove solid matter from your pond’s water, but because there are different types and sizes of filters, determining whether you have the right one can be a challenge.

In general, pond product manufacturers offer three types of filters:

  • Waterfall or BioFalls box filter, which works in a 1,000-plus gallon pond
  • Pressurized filter, designed for ponds up to 5,000 gallons
  • In-pond filter, ideal for smaller ponds up to 1,200 gallons

If your filter is correct for your pond’s size but you’re still not achieving crystal clear results, something else could be happening below the surface.

When most people install a pond in their yard, they add a few goldfish or koi for fun and color. The filtration system included with the pond will work just fine—for a while. But before long, Mother Nature will do her thing, and those “few fish” will multiply into a pond full of fingerlings!

All those fry are a sign of a healthy pond, but they produce a lot of waste. In fact, 40 1-inch fish equal one 12-inch fish in terms of waste production. So if that pond is going to be home to all those fish, the old filter will need a little help. It’s time to upgrade to a larger filter or add a second filter.

Pressurized filters, such as The Pond Guy® AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized Filters, are an easy way to add to an existing filter. They’re easily buried in the ground for minimal visual impact, they can be run in line with your existing plumbing if you have a small waterfall, and they come in a range of sizes to fit any size pond. Plus, many models have the option of an ultraviolet light to help fight green water.

Of course, filtration isn’t the only answer. Natural bacteria and aeration greatly help water quality, too.

Pond Talk: How have you upgraded your pond’s filtration system?

3 Types of Filtration, 1 Powerful Unit - AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized UV Filters

Can I continue to run my waterfall over the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can I continue to run my waterfall over the winter?

Q: Can I continue to run my waterfall over the winter?

Constance – Broomfield, CO

A: The short answer to your question: Sure! Many pond and water garden hobbyists keep their waterfalls running all year long—of course, those in warmer climates are probably more successful than those of us further north when the temperatures dip below freezing!

If you live in a colder region that freezes and you’re thinking about keeping your falls flowing through the wintertime, consider these important points:

  • Is your pump in a skimmer? If so, you may want to move it to a deeper area of your pond that doesn’t freeze.
  • Are you home to keep an eye on things? Ideally, someone should be home to periodically check on the waterfall and make sure it’s not freezing. If it does begin to freeze, the water may begin to divert out of the pond—leaving your fish high and dry.

Keeping your waterfall running during the wintertime has some definite benefits. Snow-covered and shimmering with crystals, a partially frozen waterfall can be a stunning attraction in your backyard. But that’s not all. You may also attract thirsty animals to your pond that decided to brave the winter elements!

Pond Talk: If you keep your waterfall running during the winter, why do you do so?

Protect Your Prized Fish - Airmax® KoiAir™ Aeration Kits

What is the difference between a waterfall filter and a pressurized filter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What is the difference between a waterfall filter and a pressurized filter?

Q: What is the difference between a waterfall filter and a pressurized filter?

Ryan – Houston, TX

A: Your pond or water garden needs some kind of biological filtration system to keep the water crystal clear. In general, you’ll find two basic types: a waterfall filter and a pressurized filter. Both are comparably priced and work well at cleaning the water and removing suspended particles, but there are some distinct differences.

Waterfall Filter

Typically installed during pond construction and connected to the liner, a waterfall filter, like the PondBuilder™ Crystal Falls Waterfall Filter, is buried in the ground at the top of your waterfall. This allows a place for water to pool, which then creates a smooth, even flow as the water pours down into the pond.

The filter box itself houses the biological filtration media, like BioBalls™ and filter media pads, that are covered with nitrogen- and ammonia-eating beneficial bacteria. Overall, it’s a simple, easy-to-maintain system that can handle high volumes of water.

Pressurized Filter

Unlike the waterfall filter, a pressurized filter, like The Pond Guy® AllClear™ Pressurized UV Filter, can be positioned anywhere outside the pond. The unit holds water pressure, so the filtered water can be routed back to the pond or up to a waterfall, creating a flowing waterfall effect without taking up space at the top of the falls.

As with the waterfall filter, the filter box itself holds the biological filtration media, but it can also house an ultraviolet sterilizer and may even be configured to backflush for ultra-easy maintenance. Another benefit: The pressurized filter is an easy addition to an already-existing pond that needs filtration (or an upgrade).

Purchase Options

When deciding whether to invest in a waterfall filter or a pressurized filter, ask yourself these questions:

  • Given your current pond situation, which one is easier for you to install?
  • What type of filter can accommodate the intended water flow? A waterfall filter can generally handle more water flow than the pressurized model.
  • Do you wish to also use an ultraviolet sterilizer? If so, consider a pressurized filter, like the AllClear™, that includes a built in UV unit.

Pond Talk: What kind of filter do you have in your pond?

The Pond Guy® AllClear™ Pressurized Filters - 3 Types of Filtration, 1 Powerful Unit

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