Pond levels fluctuate with weather just like natural bodies of water but most ponds have limits. Each pond is slightly different. To figure out the best water level in your pond, check these three things:
1. The Skimmer opening
The skimmer opening is the little door leading into the plastic box that holds the pump. Water moves into this area.
When the skimmer is properly installed, you should have a 1 inch gap of air between the pond surface and the top of the skimmer opening (the top edge). This is the ideal pond level.
Some skimmers, like Aquascape's 1000 skimmer, come with adjustable faceplates allowing pond builders flexibility in water depth but most skimmers are set.
2. Skimmer door hinged on the bottom!
Make sure your skimmer door is hinged at the bottom, not the top! (This is a common problem and reduces the skimmer's cleaning method giving you a dirty pond.) The door should float open allowing the top layer of pond water to run across it into the collection basket.
Sometimes we take the skimmer door off for fish training. New fish like to explore and often get trapped behind the skimmer door. If the door is removed, they can easily swim back into the pond. Typically, fish learn not to go back in the skimmer box. The door should be put back after a few days for best performance.
3. Check your overflow valve.
If it has been mounted too low, your pond water will also be low because it is draining off! The overflow valve can be raised so the water is higher.
Please note that your pond water may not be at the top of your rocks! Most ponds are not built to hold water at a perfectly constant level or even at grass level. The water will be slighly lower than your grass and rocks. The rubber behind those rocks is keeping your water in and the skimmer opening is determining the depth or level.
A couple other notes:
Summer heat causes ponds to evaporate. It is not uncommon for ponds in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area to loose 1-3 inches of water per week! Just remember to replace that lost water! (An automatic fill valve does the job for you.)
If your pond has a leak, you will have fluctuating pond levels combined with evaporation! If you are wondering how to find a leak, click here for step-by-step directions!
Feel free to call our technicians if you think you have a leak. They service Maple Grove, Edina, Eden Prairie, Golden Valley, Plymouth, Medina, Minnetonka, Minneapolis, Fridley, Stillwater, and most of the metro area.
Is your pond losing water? A key step in fixing the problem is measuring how much water is being lost. Here are step by step instructions on accuratly measuring water loss in a pond.
This leak detection process is best done over a 24-48 hr period.
First, set up the tape measure. Stick the tape measure into the pond and rest the end on the bottom of the pond. Anchor the tape measure to the stick or a rock or something. Record the beginning water level.
Note: Water creates a meniscus or curves where it touches the measure. Take all your measurements at the lowest part of the meniscus or the bottom of this curve.
Leave the pond running and recheck the measurements the next day at the same time. Leave the tape measure in place when you check. Do not move the tape measure.
Continue to run your pumps for a second 24 hour period then check the water level. Record your measurements.
The measurements will be lower as your pond loses water. Take the first measurement and subtract the following measurements to find your water loss. Here is an example: 29 inches Day one. 26.5 inches Day two. 29”- 26.5”= 2.5 inches of water loss over 24 hrs.
Once you have your water loss measurements, you can move on to leak detection! If you would like to talk with a pond technician, please give us a call at 763-458-8104. We service ponds and waterfalls in Edina, Eden Prairie, Bloomignton, Minnetonka, Medina, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Golden Valley, Minneapolis, Fridley, and more subburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.
How do I find a pond leak in Minneapolis, Minnesota? How do I repair my leaking waterfall in Maple Grove, MN? Leak detection can be a very frustrating process. It’s not quite rocket science, but does require patience, dedication and accuracy. We have spent a lot of time looking for leaks, so we created a leak detection process to make it go easier.
First, how much water should my pond use? As a general rule, water features can use between 1 to 3 inches of water per week and be normal. Size, wind, heat, humidity, how you enjoy, waterfall pattern, plant load, and other things affect water consumption. Continue reading if you’re adding more than 1-3 inches of water per week.
If you plan to have us fix it, please don’t help “too much”. Only do step 2 below. Taking your water feature apart right away is often NOT the right thing to do. We frequently find leaks with very little disassembly.
If you decide to look for the leak yourself, remember to take it step by step. If you skip steps, you may miss the source of the leak and need to start over. Worse, if you skip a step, you’ll think you found the problem and spend resources “fixing” a leak, only to find it wasn’t the source of the leak.
Where is my waterfall leaking? Well, it depends. How big is your pond? How intricate is your waterfall? There is no easy answer to this. After years of practice, we have shown up at a water feature we’ve never seen before and found the leak in 5 minutes. Other times, it took hours and even days of testing to find the cause of the leak. At what point does the cost of finding the leak overcome the cost of rebuilding your backyard pond just the way you want it with a full warranty?
This maybe the most important part! Step back, take a deep breath, enjoy the sight and sound of your water feature. Think about how water is always seeking the lowest level. It will take any path allowed to get to the lowest level. Look over your entire pond system while it’s running. Visually inspect things around your pond. Plants, roots, edges, sharp rocks, etc. A low edge, a settled rock, a new plant installed close to the edge so the liner was pushed down are some examples of things we find. Often we make this look too easy when we show up and find the leak in 10 minutes! :) This skill has taken years to develop, so don’t feel bad if we do this to you. In fact, even our newer employees with a little experience under their belt can feel bad when a more experienced pond builder shows up and finds the leak in 5 minutes.
Once you start a testing period, don’t change anything about the pond. Moving anything in the pond when you’re doing your test changes your results. Moving rocks, plants, or gravel can alter flow rate and skew your test. If you move anything, you have to start over.
Start your leak detection here:
1: We need to know how much the pond is leaking, and if it is.
Put a tape measure, ruler or yardstick in the pond for the entire duration of testing. The measuring tool needs to stay put and not be moved. “The special rock spot you fill to” is great for general filling and knowing when to add water, but it won’t give you consistent exact readings when finding a waterfall leak. The measurement needs to be from a spot we can get very consistent readings from.
Write down the date, time, and measurement the water is at. Let the waterscape run until the water goes down an easily measurable amount. That could be one inch. If it goes down in 24 hours and that calculates out to more than 3 inches per week, continue the test.
2: Check the easiest part, the pond or basin.
Shut your pump off. Allow the water in the streams and waterfalls to drain down into the pond. After about an hour, record what the water level is. Leave the pond for 24 hours. If you have fish, be sure to care for them. This will tell us if you have a leak in the pond or basin.
3: 24 hours later, check the water level in the biofalls, which also tests the plumbing. The water should be almost to the top of the biofalls. If it’s full, skip to step 4.
3B: If the biofalls is low or empty during the 24 hour test, we recommend sealing the pipe where it comes into the skimmer and refilling the biofalls to the top. Let it sit for 24 hours. You should not lose any water in the biofalls when this test is done.
3C: If the water drops again, you have a leak in your plumbing. With specialized tools, we typically can locate the leak, or you can replace the entire biofalls, pipe and fittings. After being repaired, start test 3B over to make sure you cover your bases.
4: Check the measurement on the pond level. If it’s a lower measurement from yesterday’s number, repeat this step until it stops losing water. We’re looking for a leak in the pond liner.
4B: When the pond level stops dropping, the leak is at the water level. You can look yourself, or start moving rocks to find the leak. Give us a call if you can’t find it or don’t want to deal with it.
5: So if the pond level doesn’t go down, and the plumbing tests ok, the leak has to be in the waterfall. Finding a leak in waterfalls can take more time and cost than it would just to replace the liner and rebuild the falls. Do you like the look of your waterfall? Is it how you would like to have it anyway? If not, consider installing a whole new liner and rebuilding the waterfalls. If you choose to look for the leak, test each level and make sure it doesn’t leak as you move up. Run the test for as long as the original test took that had a measurable result.
It is an awesome feeling to find a leak in my pond and fix it but it can be such a pain to find a waterfall leak! We have been known to recommend “full replacement” after seeing pictures of your pond and discussing it. Replacement may not be the right thing, but keep it in your mind as an option.
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.