All ponds will leak eventually. Understanding a true-leak vs water evaporation is a must. As a true-leak can be costly, and when caught earlier the better to avoid additional expenses.

Constructing a koi pond, waterfall, pondless waterfall, or other landscape water feature is a great investment for any property. When constructed correctly, water features can add tranquility and value to any property – residential or commercial. The sounds of water flowing freely, the greenery brought on by the beauty of a water garden, and the pleasure of owning koi fish, all bring delight to ourselves and customers renting the property. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end – or at least a subtle halt while your water feature is to be assessed and repaired effectively for any leak.

Found a leak! Which will drain your bank account as fast as your pond – get to this issue early!

Understanding how to assess and diagnose a pond and waterfall leak can save you time and money. Typically we see 1-2″ per month of water loss due to evaporation, sometimes slighltly more due to water deflection around waterfalls and fountain points (where water will bounce outside the pond due to rocks etc) and each issue must be approach in its own fashion. The first two – evaporation and water deflection are important, yet not typically a threat to your water feature like a true-leak is.

The Leak Detection

Okay okay – you’re ready to learn how to assess your water feature for a leak. Lets start with the basics. Running through these questions will help pinpoint step 1 of the leak assessment. Do you know how much water you are losing? Is it 1-2 inches daily? Weekly? Or monthly? A great way to trace how much water is actually being lost, is filling your pond or water feature with enough water to the “full” point. Meaning to where it should be. Make sure to add DeChlor if using a hose as tap water can kill your fish! Once your pond is full, set a stick or similar marker at the water line, and reassess 24 and 48 hours after filling the water feature. Note how much water loss is accounted for via a tape measure or ruler. If its anything beyond 1-2″ p/day – you might have a leak. 

Water Feature Full of Water?

The next step is evaluating the waterfall or areas water is coming back into the pond from. If its via waterfall or spout, simply by-passing this is how we test for leaks in that area. 75-80% of leaks we see are in the waterfall area. Seeping deep in the rocks and cracks, bypassing this will tell you if this is the leak culprit. If you have a standard upflow filter box (with lava rock / or mesh) simply remove this, and screw in a pool hose with a 2″ threaded fitting (refer to image).

Still Losing Water?

Time to let it sit. We recommend having some sort of aerator if you have any koi fish or turtles as they will need some air supply during this process. Once you have proper air supply for your aquatic wildlife, fill your water feature up again to a recognizable point, and turn your pumps off to let the water sit. The water level lowering will tell you if the leak is in the basin vs the waterfall. Following waterfall leaks, we see the basins leaking due to aged pond liners, aggressive vegetation, and even pond maintenance companies walking inside the water features (which we never recommend on non-cemented features) 

Not Losing Water in the Basin?

The final leak assessment step is evaluating the pond equipment. If the waterfall isn’t leaking, the basin(s) aren’t leaking, then it’s most likely the pond equipment leaking. Walking the perimeter of the water feature and looking for wet-spots in the soil and leaks in the equipment is your best option. Referencing the UV-light, pump, filtration, and pipes for leaks and sun-cracks is most important. Often times we see pool-style plumbing with years of sun fractures and minute leaks which ultimately can lead to a replace in your pond equipment.

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