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How can I find a leak in my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I find a leak in my pond?

Q: How can I find a leak in my pond?

Jan – East Wenatchee, WA

A: Talk about a tough mystery to solve! A tiny hole in your pond liner or one loose plumbing connection could cause a leak that slowly – or quickly, depending on the leak’s size – drains your pond. And that leak could be anywhere.

Where do you begin your search?

Don’t worry. You don’t have to completely drain your pond or rebuild it from the ground up. Try these mystery-busting troubleshooting tips first.

Is the water evaporating?

During the heat of the summertime, you can expect some all-natural water loss. Thanks to evaporation, up to an inch (give or take) of water will naturally disappear from the pond, and if you have a long stream bed with a lot of surface area or a large pond with few floating plants, even more water could transform from liquid to vapor.

If you suspect something fishy, fill the pond back up and keep an eye on the water level. Any more than an inch or so of water loss could indicate a leak.

Are there damp areas around the pond?

If more than an inch or so of water is disappearing daily, one clear clue that could lead to your leak is a damp area around the pond’s perimeter. That water has to go somewhere, and a patch of wet ground is a great place to start looking for its source.

Walk around the pond and carefully inspect the soil for signs of unexplained moisture. If you find some, take a closer look at that spot’s liner and construction.

Is the waterfall to blame?

If you’ve ruled out evaporation and there are no damp areas to be found, your stream or waterfall could be the culprit. Shut down the system and wait for several hours. If the pond’s water level stays the same, then you’ll know the leak is not in the pond itself. It’s likely in the waterfall or plumbing.

Some spots to inspect include tight curves in your stream where water might be splashing out, and plumbing connections on the pump or waterfall where pipe splits or loose connections could be causing the water loss.

Worst case: Let it leak

If the water continues to disappear from your pond after shutting down the waterfall, keep a close eye on the pond’s water level until it stops falling. When it does, that’s when you should look for the leak. Because the water level will stabilize once it lowers past the hole, you should be able to find the problem at or below the water level and fix it.

To repair the leak, you have two options: patch the hole with a 6-inch self-adhesive liner patch or close it up with some underwater sealer, like Gold Label Pond and Aquarium Sealer. The round liner patch has a self-adhesive backing that’s perfect for quick repairs on small cuts in EPDM liner. The underwater sealer, which works on wet or dry surfaces, instantly repairs leaks in rubber and vinyl liners, as well as concrete, stone, wood, plastic, glass and ceramic surfaces.

Good luck – and happy leak-hunting!

Pond Talk: How did you solve your most mysterious pond leak?

Underwater Pond Sealer - Patch Leaks, Even Underwater!

9 Responses

  1. I have a question. I have a liner, but I think it’s upside down because the liner that the water is in is very coarse with lines and I cannot get the rubber patch to stick to it bease its not a completely flat surface. What can I do to seal it? I have about four or five small holes where my dog’s claws went through the liner. The water level is about 2 inches below the holes I have already cleaned it and I cannot get the liner with the peal back, to stick to it. I’ve cleaned it really good but the patch just slides around due to the groves of the lines.

    • Hi Robert – You may want to try to the caulk sealer for pond leaks. This may work better given your situation as long as the holes are relatively small.

  2. Reblogged this on The Gardens of Boxwood Manor's Blog and commented:
    Well, this is helpful; however we replaced the liner completely in 2009 as it was old. The Pond Guy is where I order all the pond stuff- very reasonable prices. the blog is very helpful, too, and interesting. Learned a lot of the past years with them.

  3. I have tried your technique before in a very small (less than 400 gallon) pond I have close to my front door. To no avail, I can not find the leak, though I think it is closer to the bottom of the pond liner. I suspect that as the water leaks from the pond liner, the ground will hold the water for awhile and once the water pressure underneath the liner is equal to or greater than the water pressure above, the leaking “stops.”

    Does this make sense? Is there anyway to locate this type of leak without draining the pond (which is home to a school on Rosie minnows, several frogs, and a red ear slider turtle even found his way to the pond!) I think sme indusrtrious chipmunks might have caused the leak with their digging / tunneling… I have “moth-balled” and blocked their tunnels to prevent (hopefully) further damage


    • Hey Steve, it could be possible that a bottom leak is the case but you should still be able to submerge your colorant applicator (eye dropper, tank sprayer with wand, etc.) and place drops along the bottom of the pond to check for water loss. If the leak is at the bottom the water loss should still be gradual and persistent as the water underground will dissipate over time. You may still want to let the water drop until it reaches the leak to find out where it is at. Just keep an eye on your fish and a container filled with pond water handy to relocate them if the level gets too low.

      • Thanks.. I will give it a try.. Luckily I have a second, lrager pond so if things get too bad, the fish, frogs, etc… can be quickly relocated

      • Perfect! Just make sure you acclimate everyone to the different water before you set them free in your other pond. Let us know how you fare.

  4. I had to build up an earthen wall in order to make a small waterfall. I realized I was losing water because over time the earth had compacted under my rubber lining and water was seeping out around my rocks. Took all the rocks off and raised the walls 3-5″ and solved the leak problem. I kept looking for a leak but the issue was not in my lower larger pond but the upper filter pond.

    • The filter material in my waterfall had clogged and some water was flowing over the back. As you suggest, I cut off the waterfall and the leak stopped, so I knew where it was.

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