The average lifespan of a pond pump is two years and will cost you an average of $500. But, of course this statistic does not help you if your pond pump has stopped working leaving your fish gasping for breath. Perhaps you are gasping after seeing the cost of a new pump. Fortunately, most pumps that stop working can be fixed by a little pond pump troubleshooting.
A pump can evidently stop working when it does not have enough water. Often waterfalls connected to ponds will reduce significantly in flow simply because a pump hidden in a skimmer area is not receiving enough water. Visually look at the pump and insure that the pump is completely submerged. Of course, this sounds basic. But the number one reason for a pump failure is the lack of water. Often mats, nets and other such barriers must be cleaned regularly to avoid build up of excess debris.
The next item to check is whether the pump itself is clogged. Mechanical skimmer boxes were developed primarily to house the pump and keep it from clogging through the use of several barriers. Chances are if your pond pump is in the bottom of your pond it will clog on a regular basis and will require attention often. Visually look into the end of the pump and with the pump unplugged spin the impeller and clean with a jet of water from your hose.
Rarely do older ponds have vapor locks. However, it is still worth noting. Pond pumps are designed to pump water and not air. So if an air bubble gets trapped in the plumbing of the pond the pump can become vapor locked. In this instance, the pump impeller would be spinning but no water would be coming out. A vapor lock can be fixed by tilting the pump to allow air to escape.
The fifth step to troubleshooting your pond pump is checking the electrical source and its connections. If the pump is not making any noise or vibrating it is good idea to check the power source. Often after an electrical storm or heavy rain a GFIC outlet trips, turning the power off. Reset the breaker by pressing the button labeled “reset” on the outlet. GFCI’s are very sensitive, but are important as they protect people from receiving a shock in case of an electrical malfunction.
If the breaker continues to trip the pump usually has one of two problems. Often seals on bearing pumps allow water to enter into the inner workings of the pump causing the pump to trip the breaker. A simple slit in the cord due to traffic or weight on the cord can allow water to enter after the morning dew or a rain storm.
If the impeller in the pump does not spin freely it can cause the breaker to trip, causing a power surge. If this is the case. It is time to buy a new pump. There are no manufacturers that have built pond pumps with repairs in mind. It is much more cost effective to replace the pump with one that carries a good warranty of 3 years or better than to fix it.
The value of a “good” pump is in its warranty. Many bearing driven pumps used in ponds today are nothing more than retrofitted sump pumps used in basements. These are usually backed by a one year warranty. The challenge for pond pump manufacturers face is to develop pumps to run twenty four hours a day. The best pumps today are energy efficient, high flow magnetic pumps that come with easy exchange policy and last over 3 years.