After careful watch over your backyard pond, you may have noticed a change in water levels. Whether they’re raised or dropped, a leak is a likely cause of the flow differences.
You’re now wondering, “How can you find pond leaks?” Well, you can diagnose the issue through multiple methods.
One of the first signs of a leak is likely situated around the edge of your pond. Wet mulch can indicate low borders and water escaping.
Another sign to look out for is ruptured liners. After an attentive look-through over your pond, you may spot the cut.
Stick around to learn more about how you can find pond leaks, their causes, and solutions.
Before attempting to seal a pond leak, you need to find the underlying source. To start, deactivate the water pump and inspect whether the water levels change for the day.
If you notice a change, then the leak is likely coming from a compromised pond liner. You can find where the hole is by pouring milk near the edges.
If the cloudy milk residue is flowing away, that’s where your leak is.
Now, if the water levels didn’t change after you turned off the pump, then it could be an issue of plumbing or pipe leaks.
The water loss may also come from raised water levels due to over-vegetation and the excess pond water pouring out of the edges.
After noticing a significant water loss in your pond, it’s time to investigate the culprit. It can be anything from low edges to a pesky muskrat infestation.
Look around the bank of your pond, and you may notice streams pooling out. It could originate from low edges.
When the pond plants grow, they take up more surface area underwater and push out excess water near the bank.
Signs of low edges include dampness around the gravel lining of the pond and wet mulch along the edges.
You can raise your pond’s edge by adding extra gravel and logs around the water feature. Be sure to cement them to keep the water inside the pond.
Integrate some marginal plants to create an aesthetic element to the elevated edge. Alternatively, hoist the pond liner upwards and use rocks to keep it in place.
Your pond’s pipe inlays and outlets might be the source of the leakage. Pipe issues may take time to diagnose, especially if you have an automatic fill valve.
Although the fill valves may mask the leakage, you can identify the issue if there’s an increase in your water bill.
That’s your sign to get a more in-depth look at the pipes, filters, and fastenings lining the pond.
These items are usually composed of plastic and, over time, can deteriorate and crack, causing leaks.
Alternatively, your filtration system may be experiencing a blockage when not maintained.
In most scenarios, you’ll likely need to replace a cracked pipe. Meanwhile, you can clean out the filter if it’s blocked using the pond water.
Another likely cause of pond leakage could come from a compromised liner. The material could be ripped or split in some areas, resulting in excessive water loss.
Firstly, we suggest exposing the damaged area. Subsequently, wait until the water level drops to the ripped region. Once it does, the water loss should cease, and you can spot the hole.
Next, repair the hole according to the material’s specifications. If the water levels are dropping too low and endangering your fish, you can rehome them until you expose the liner’s rip.
Your pond may have attracted unwanted wildlife. Muskrats notoriously dig around ponds and cause leakage.
To the omnivore, your plant-rich pond is food heaven. They enjoy munching on vegetation surrounding the structure and escape to safety via their dug-out holes.
You can reduce the muskrat infestation by spreading a repellent made of cayenne pepper, coyote urine, fox urine, and garlic.
These natural fragrances will ward off muskrats since they carry their predator’s scent.
Another method is lining the bank area, where they burrow, with a pond liner. That way, if they don’t have a place to dig, they likely won’t return.
You might also opt for a floating net to deter the muskrats from entering the pond. Nets usually come in black and are invisible.
Your pond may have a splash factor causing the mass volumes of water loss. The culprits could be a waterfall, fountain, or seemingly harmless pump.
These landscape features may splash out small droplets, but these tiny bits accumulate and, over time, can cause copious inches of loss.
Aside from the mechanical water loss, water fountains and other installations can catalyze the evaporation process. In turn, you’ll be losing water from two different causes.
You can minimize the water loss by redirecting your fountain’s flow to reduce the splash factor. Keep the water’s direction within the pond liner.
Besides pond leakages, you may be dealing with evaporation as well. Evaporation is a typically slow process. Various aspects affect it, like temperature, location, humidity, and wind.
Water features like fountains and more surface area can catalyze evaporation rates. On average, a pond can lose about one to two inches of level weekly.
Areas with soaring temperatures and humidity levels can lose three to four inches per week. Large-sized ponds usually lose about three inches every week.
Luckily, you can get a more detailed number by identifying the number of gallons pumped and the surface area of your pond.
If your 5 x 10 square feet pond pumps over 1000 gallons, it’ll lose approximately 1.68 inches per week. A 2000-gallon pump in a 5 x 10 square-inch pond can drop 3.36 inches.
A pond in a shaded area will likely lose over 0.5% of the gallons pumped per day. Double the percentage if the pond is in sunny terrain.
In turn, let’s assume your pond pumps 500 gallons per hour. A shaded pond will lose about 2.5 gallons each day.
Meanwhile, a pond exposed to sunlight can evaporate over 5 gallons of water daily. Now, you’ll need to calculate the gallons per inch to find the number of inches lost.
To do so, multiply the length and width of your pond to get the surface area and multiply it by 0.62. For instance, a 10 x 10 pond will have 62 gallons per inch of water.
Next, divide the gallons evaporated per day by the gallons per inch. In this case, let’s divide 2.5 by 62. It’ll yield 0.04 inches lost per day.
Multiply the number by 7 to get a weekly count. The result is 0.28 inches evaporated weekly for a shaded 10 x 10 pond with a 500 pump.
In most cases, crawfish don’t cause a pond to leak. Pond owners may assume the snapping claws of the marine creature can puncture through the liners, but that’s not the case.
Your prime concern with crawfish is more likely to control their population. Overaccumulation could prove harmful to your pond’s overall ecosystem.
The crustaceans are dutiful members of your pond since they enjoy snacking on weeds. Consequently, they’re ideal if you’re trying to manage pond plant overgrowth.
Another benefit crawfish offer is their role in the fish food chain. If your pond houses a few bass, channel catfish, and bluegills, they’ll likely snatch a few snappers for lunch.
Leaking ponds can seal themselves naturally. They do so through a process known as siltation. It involves sediment erosion that travels throughout the pond’s bed.
Subsequently, the erosion can seal leakage. Nevertheless, the process is painstakingly slow. We recommend closing the leaked region manually to avoid water loss.
Noticing a leaky pond can take some time. Look out for tell-tale signs, such as muskrat holes or wet edges.
Aside from that, the changes in water levels may not result from a leak. Instead, evaporation could be to blame.
The hotter, drier, and sunnier the region, the more likely you’ll lose more inches of water volume per week.
Fortunately, you can slow this natural process down by installing a trellis or growing trees around the pond to provide ample shade from the water-sucking afternoon sun.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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