In this article we are going to go step by step to help you find the leak in your water feature. First off let me sympathize, I know how frustrating it can be to have a leak. Follow along below to troubleshoot a leak or loss of water in your water feature. The process is to start from the bottom up. Only change one variable at a time and see if it has an effect.
The hardest part is finding the leak! Once you see what is going on, the fix is straight forward. Let’s get started.
Will It hold water
Check to see if it holds water when you fill it. Keep everything off and check it after 24 hours. If it does hold water, move on.
If it does not, allow the water to drain until it holds steady. Once it stops losing water that is the point of your leak. If your leak is low in your water feature it may be necessary to remove your fish and place them in a holding tank.
Make sure to add some kind of aerator to the holding tank to keep your fish healthy while you fix the leak. Remove any rocks and try to pinpoint where the water is escaping. Patch the liner and refill the pond.
If the water holds, congratulations you fixed your leaky pond. If not, repeat the process until it’s fixed.
Move up the line
If you are able to hold water then the problem is upstream. This is good news. It means you won't have to dismantle your pond completely. Let’s continue following the water flow until we find the problem.
I began to uncover the return line that runs from the skimmer box to the waterfall unit. Along the way it passes through my UV light. Try and think of all the connections that can fail along the way and check them while the water is running.
If you find something leaking here, tighten or replace the joint or connection and see if that solves your problem. There was no water escaping here, so I had to move on.
Inspect the Waterfall Unit
Moving up the line I removed all the filters from my waterfall unit and checked the connections there. Still no luck. At this point I was beginning to sweat a little bit. Would I have to tear apart my whole waterfall to repair the liner and then rebuild it? Talk about a nightmare!
Check where the liner attaches to the waterfall unit and be sure there is no tension on the liner. This can happen as things settle. If you did’t leave enough slack in the liner when it was installed, it will wind up pulling itself free from the waterfall unit.
I removed some rocks surrounding the waterfall unit to get a better look. There was no sign of stress on the liner and all of my sealant seemed to be intact.
Follow the water's path
As the water flows from my waterfall unit into my pond it seemed as though there was no way for it to escape. That is the problem with assumptions, they aren’t always correct.
This is where I was wrong. I didn’t spot it, my wife did. I have to give credit where credit is due. Sometimes a second set of eyes is exactly what you need. She noticed that water was slowly trickling behind the liner as it went over the second spillway.
How to Fix A Water Leak In Your Pond
There are a number of ways water can escape from your pond. I will go over the 3 most common ways. One, the water is going through your liner, like a puncture or gash. Two water is going around your liner. Which is what happened in my case.
Water Escaping Through Fittings
You could be losing water through the joints on your fittings. Maybe you dont have your fittings tight enough. Also, the natural heating and cooling from mother nature can cause joints to work themselves loose.
If you are losing water, a good place to start is to go through all of your fittings. Even a rubber boot attached with a hose clamp can break free. I have had hose clamps rust through and fail. This is the easiest place to start. The leak should be fairly obvious if you have a broken system.
Water going through your liner
Once you find this leak it can be fixed with a pond liner patch kit. The liner must be exposed beyond the puncture and all dirt must be removed.
Follow the instructions on your repair kit. This is an effective way to repair a hole or gash.
Water Going Around Your Liner
This is not as straightforward as repairing a hole. It may require a little trial and error. If you can see how the water flows, then you can figure out how to stop and redirect it. The use of waterfall foam is the quickest most effective method to fix a leak like this.
The video above shows this in great detail. Start at 9:05 in the video for details on using waterfall foam.
Searching for a leak may feel like chasing a ghost. It usually involves lot’s of experimentation, trial and error. For me gravity was the culprit for the “leak”. Things settle over time. With the heating and thawing cycles things shift and move. As you can see that’s all it takes sometimes.
The most important thing to do if you are faced with this challenge is not to panic. A leak can be very subtle and hard to spot. Go through your system one section at a time until you find what works.
If you have had any success or failures fixing a leak, please comment below. I would love to hear your story. Wishing you the best of luck, and until next time enjoy your backyard water garden.