We get this type of call all the time. Here’s some steps you can take if you notice that your pump, the lifeblood of your aquatic ecosystem, has stopped working.
Step 1: Verify the pump is plugged in and that there is power at the outlet
Step 2: Check for clogging
Step 3: Make sure enough water is getting to the pump
If the pump is in a skimmer the water level in the pond needs to be high enough to allow the proper flow of water into the skimmer opening while the pump is running. If you’ve lost enough water due to evaporation or a leak then your pump will quickly outpace the flow of water coming into the skimmer.
Step 4: Check the outflow
Sometimes debris or filter media can black the opening at the bottom of your biofalls. If this is the case, you’ll need to take out the media in the biofalls to investigate. This would also allow you to make sure the plumbing below ground is not crushed or blocked. Run a garden hose into the top of the pipe and disconnect the pump from the plumbing to see if water runs all the way through the piping.
Step 5: Motor Troubleshooting
If nothing is clogging the pump’s screen, impeller, or outflow and there’s definitely power at the outlet it’s plugged into, try to listen for any humming or vibration coming from the pump. This would be a sign of life. Many pump models have a capacitor that acts as a battery to help initially jump start the pump. If this has broken then the motor will not start without it being replaced. Call the manufacturer for details.
If you can’t hear any humming or vibrations coming from the pump when plugged in then it’s very likely your pump will need to be replaced. Consult this pump sizing guide to make sure your replacement is the right fit for your situation. It’s possible that the broken pump wasn't initially sized properly and therefore died prematurely.
Give us a call here at AWM Water Features if you need any help through the pump troubleshooting process!
What do the different water quality tests mean on our maintenance reports?
If ammonia levels are above 0.5ppm it indicates either overfeeding, too many fish per gallon of pond water, decaying organic matter, or an insufficient biological filter. Ammonia levels will be higher in brand new ponds and the spring and fall as the beneficial bacteria are either just getting established or experiencing stresses.
pH - The measure of Hydrogen ions making the water either acidic, neutral, or alkaline. A balanced pH is critical for the health of the pond and its inhabitants. Higher pH levels also increase the harmful effects of ammonia. A range of 6.8 to 8.6 is acceptable for fish and a wide variety of plants. Below a 6.8 pH causes stress to the fish and can be caused by overstocking, improper surface agitation leading to carbon dioxide buildup, or decomposing organic matter. Proper filtration, aeration, and maintenance will help to avoid these problems.
Phosphate (PO43-) - Phosphorus is usually the limiting factor in algae growth so it’s presence is indicative of string algae or phytoplankton blooms. Some common sources of phosphorus in ponds are fish food, leaves & tree debris, soil/mulch erosion, and even tap water. Ideally levels should be 0.0ppm and anything over 0.03ppm can contribute to algae growth. Performing regular maintenance, adding plants, and proper biological filtration are the best ways to reduce phosphate levels.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) - The amount of all chemical ions dissolved in the water such as salts, minerals, and nutrients. The main factor in your pond’s TDS level is the source water used to initially fill the pond. TDS levels will generally become higher throughout the season as water is lost to evaporation but the dissolved solids are left behind.
gH (general hardness) - A measure of the overall amount of mineral content in the water such as iron, silica, borate, magnesium, and calcium. The more minerals that are dissolved, the “harder” the water becomes. Up to a certain level, harder water is better for koi fish as it makes their osmoregulation processes easier and harder water can also limit any toxic effects of heavy metals.
Copper - In ponds utilizing an IonGen system to control string algae it’s important to monitor the copper concentration to ensure the safety of the fish and the efficacy of the treatments. It is recommended that copper levels not exceed 0.25ppm since higher levels can be toxic to invertebrates and may cause long-term fish issues.
Dissolved Oxygen - All pond fish require at least 6ppm of dissolved oxygen in the water in order to avoid stress, immune system compromise, stunting, and low appetites. Below 3ppm and koi will quickly suffocate and die. Ideally dissolved oxygen should be above 8ppm for the health of koi and for beneficial bacteria to flourish. Bacteria take much longer to break down nutrients and waste in low oxygen environments so it’s important to supply the biological filter with highly oxygenated water from the surface like most pond’s with a skimmer do. Warm, stagnant water holds the least amount of oxygen so as long as your pond is being aerated and shaded properly oxygen levels should be adequate.