Like any other technology, pond pumps have their fair share of issues, but not to worry! Here are the most common problems with pond pumps as well as the solutions.
Clogs are the most common issues in pond pumps. Over time, debris or algae can build up which blocks the water flow. Clogging can occur in the inlet, outlet, or opening. A lack of water flowing through the pump can then cause air bubbles to form. This leads to overheating and possible shutdown.
Clogs, while problematic, are not the only issue you can come across. Here are a few more common issues as well as the solutions.
Unclogging the Pump
Clogs are caused by debris, algae, boulders, or anything else blocking the flow of water to the pump. The fastest way to clean out a pump is to remove the check valve and the volute cover. Clean any debris from the cover and chamber using your finger.
After you remove the dirt, reassemble the pump and check valve. If this does not solve the problem consider doing a thorough cleanout of the rotors and valves. Check the pump regularly to ensure that the parts are all functioning properly. Below is a step by step video with instructions on how to remove clogs from your pump.
Problems with clogging can be avoided if you are willing to purchase additional equipment that will help keep debris out of your pump. Pump screens and filter bags are good ways to keep the pump clean. Skimmers are also a safe choice as well as biofilters that prevent large bacteria buildup.
Additional Problems and Solutions
Getting rid of clogs is one of the best ways to ensure that these issues do not occur. You can clean your pump out by removing the check valve and the volute cover to scrape out the dirt and blockage (methods will vary from model to model). As long as you are willing to do frequent checking for clogs or buy the necessary equipment, you should not have to deal with a lot of other problems with your pump.
Overheating is another common issue with pond pumps. Clogs are a large contributing factor to this issue since they cause the pump to work too hard. When water is obstructed it causes air bubbles to form and that can result in severe overheating.
Many pumps tend to have a thermal cut-out built in that will automatically shut off and restart your pump if it starts to overheat. If this doesn’t work, you might want to also reconsider replacing any parts that might have wear and tear on them such as the pump bearings.
You will probably want to check for dirt and obstruction before doing anything else. In addition to unclogging, be sure to check your filter which could be the cause of the overheat. Clean the filter thoroughly and replace it before switching the pump back on.
Vapor lock is just a fancy way of saying air is trapped inside the pump, or the pump is taking in air rather than water. This problem can be remedied by tilting the pump to release the air bubble. Make sure your pump is completely submerged! If it is partially sticking out that can cause frequent vapor locks.
You also want to make sure any cables your pump connects to are not damaged or disconnected in any way. An unsteady flow of electricity to the pump will cause a lot of starting and stopping. Check for any cable damage or obstacles that might prevent electricity from reaching the pump.
Be sure to unplug/turn off electricity before you touch any of the hardware. Failure to do so can result in electrocution. If there are frequent short circuits or breaks in the fuse, shut it off immediately and get it checked out as soon as possible.
Ensure that your pump has a sufficient power supply. If this is not the case, your pump will likely malfunction and shut off from time to time. Always turn the power off before checking connectivity to avoid injury. Be thorough in your search! The issue could reside anywhere between the pond and your home so be sure to check your breaker box and outlets to ensure they are working properly.
If the pump has been turned off for a long period of time, such as during the winter or fall, the impeller may not spin right away and the pump will not function properly. Most pumps are built with an automatic restart, but if that fails, you can try unplugging it for a few seconds and plugging it back in to try to kickstart it. Repeat a few times. If it doesn’t work, consider getting your pump checked.
For pond owners with fish, you may want to think about having a backup pump in case your main pump goes on the fritz. Fish who are used to living in a pond with moving water (whether from a pump, filter, etc.) may not like it if the pump suddenly quits working. This can especially be problematic in hot weather.
If the problem with the pump is minor, try to remedy the issue on your own. If it proves to be trickier than expected, you’ll want to call for professional help. Trying to solve large scale problems without the proper knowhow can be dangerous for your fish.
A broken impeller may be the problem. It can often be slowed down or stopped by a buildup of dirt and debris so check that first before assuming it is broken. If a blockage is not the issue, check to see if the impeller is detached or broken.
An inactive pump can also contribute to this problem so make sure you try restarting it as explained above. If the impeller has snapped or broken in some way, you can find replacements on Amazon or the yard care section of most hardware stores.
These issues are the most common problems that can be found with pond pumps. There are also precautionary measures you can take to try avoiding a lot of these problems in the first place.
Take apart the pump’s outer casing to make sure it is free of buildup and debris. This will usually prevent clogging. You might want to check and make sure nothing has broken or detached, but if you do have broken parts and no spares, you can usually find what you need at most hardware and yard care stores.
If you have checked your pump for all of these problems, it may just be time to get a new pump! The average life expectancy of a 5000 GPH submersible pond pump is one to two years, maybe three or four depending on the model you have.
You can check for clogs, overheating and anything else, even consult a professional if you feel that it is necessary. However, it is more than likely that you need to find a new pump. That may sound a bit intimidating, especially if you have not budgeted for one. To give you a hand, here are a few brand suggestions that you might want to consider.
Models to Try
These are all reliable products that will ensure you get your money’s worth. The VIVOSUN Submersible 400gph pump is on the cheaper end of the scale but, it works well for smaller amounts of water. It is easy to hide, easy to disassemble and reassemble, and has a two year warranty. If your budget is a little tight, this is a great pump to consider.
Another good model to consider is the Tetra Pond Debris handling pump. This one is a little higher on the price range. This pump works well for larger amounts of water, with a flow rate of 4,235 GPH. This pump is on the heavy duty end of the scale and has a lifespan of several years. It is a good model for pond owners with waterfalls and aquatic plants. At a warranty of three years, this pump is definitely a safe bet.
AquaSurge also creates several good models, including waterfall pumps. The AquaSurge adjustable flow pond pump 2000-4000 GPH is a considerable choice. This model has WiFi connectivity and a limited warranty of three years. The maximum flow rate is 3,947 GPH. It has a powerful motor and a protected, twenty foot length power cable. This one is on the higher end of the scale on the price.
If you are looking for a higher, more professional grade pump, take a look at the Pond Guy SuperFlo pump. This pump comes with a three year warranty and a 9,900 GPH flow rate. Completely submersible and weighing about twenty-four pounds, you will be in good hands with the SuperFlo.
Any of these pumps are worth considering! You can also take a look at other pumps made by the companies Pond Guy, VIVOSUN, Tetra, and AquaSurge..