Ponds have certain life expectancies and as they age, problems can occur. The number one reason for algae in your backyard pond is too much fresh water entering the system. New (or fresh) water is added because the pond is actually leaking! You should only need to add 1-3 inches of water per week during the summer months for Minnesotan ponds.
There are three main parts of water features. The pond (or basin for waterfalls) at the bottom, plumbing going up, and a filtration system or waterfall coming down.
Leaks can be slow or fast but the end result is a pond that doesn't work! You will need to run a leak test. This is not hard but it IS a carefully set up and timed test so following directions is important.
Step one: Measure how much water is being lost and how fast. How long does it take to loose 1/4 inch of water? Record this number! (How to measure water loss directions.)
Step two: Shut your pond or waterfall pump off, disconnect it, add water to the pond so it is full, and let it sit. (If you have fish, move them to a holding tank with oxygen.) This measures the bottom of your pond system.
Step three: Plug the return pipe at bottom and fill the pipe from the top. This checks the plumbing for leaks. Think of it as filling a straw and checking for soda leaking out a crack along the side.
Step four: Good Luck!
Once the leak has been found, costs can be calculated for repairing it. Sometimes our experienced technician shows up, identifies the spot, and fixes the leak in 10 minutes! Other times, leak diagnosing runs into multiple days.
An average pond repair is around $1000 in 2021 dollars in Minnesota. Sometimes there are multiple leaks. One leak gets fixed only to discover another leak in the pond.
If the plumbing is leaking but is easy to find and fix, costs can be less than $300. If the entire pipe needs to be replaced, the cost usually begins around $1500+.
Leaks in the waterfall or top of the pond system will vary from a low edge by rock and landscaping, to incorrect liner-overlap during building, or liner cut too short.
Rubber liner that was pushed down below the water line is cheap to fix. Simply pull the rubber into place and pat soil behind it to hold it up until the ground firms up a bit. (The ground will be soggy so it helps to add some fresh soil to that spot.)
Fixing an incorrect liner-overlap problem or adding more liner to a piece that is too small will cost more depending on how much soil and rock will have to be removed. Often, chasing a leak in a waterfall is not cost effective and can gust into the thousands of dollars. It may be best in the long run to have it simply rebuilt with a new, perfect liner. Average waterfall rebuilding costs start around $3000+ and largely depend on the size of rocks, the access to the work site, and how long the waterfall is.
If you have a problem pond or a pond filled with algae, give the leak test a try! If you would rather have our experienced technicians do the test for you, please give us a call sooner rather than later. Everyone enjoys a beautiful, clear pond! Make yours that kind of pond!
Jeff Chudek has been building ponds and waterfalls professionally since 2005. As a kid, his favorite time of year was spring, because the spring thaw created so much mud and puddles, and all the trees and plants were waking up. He loves figuring out the best way to use something, and fixing things that are broken. He's good at coming up with ideas, and helping choose the best idea for you.