How to Find a Leak in Your Pond

One day your pond looks great, and the next the water level seems a little lower than usual. The day after that, it looks even lower.

Could you have a pond leak?

A pond leak is only one of many reasons that your pond might lose water. If it is a leak, though, finding the exact location is like finding a needle in a pile of haystacks - and you need to figure out which haystack to search first.

Luckily, you can solve many water-loss issues yourself. And if you do have a leak that needs repaired, you can take steps to find the source of the problem before the service team arrives.


At a Glance: What to Do When Your Pond Loses Water

  • Understand that some water will evaporate naturally, especially in hot weather and in water features with splashy waterfalls.
  • Do the 24-Hour Test: Turn off the pump for 24 hours and see if the water level is still dropping.
  • Check your stream and waterfall for debris build-up.
  • Check your stream for areas where the liner is pushed down.

Do the 24-Hour Test

If you feel like you're losing more water than you should be, try running what we call the 24-Hour Test. Here's how it works:

  1. Unplug the pump.
  2. Fill the pond to the full level and take a picture.
  3. Leave the pond sitting at a full level without the waterfall running for 24 hours.
  4. Note the water level after the 24 hours. Take a picture.
  5. If the water level does not change, then we can assume that the issue is not in the pond itself.

If the water goes down, then we know there is a problem with the liner. We want to let it keep dropping until it stops

If the water level does not change and the problem occurs only when the waterfall is running, then the issue is most likely in the stream, waterfall and/or plumbing.

If the Problem is in the Pond ...

Keep your pump turned off until the water level stops dropping. Wherever the water level stops is where your hole is. Now, you can call the pros or buy a liner repair kit and get your pond back on track.

If the Problem is in the Stream or Waterfall ...

You're more likely to lose water through your stream or waterfall than you are to lose it from your pond. And the issue often has nothing to do with a tear in your liner. Here are a few reasons you might be losing water from your stream or waterfall:

  • Evaporation: You're more likely to lose water through evaporation if you have a large or particularly splashy waterfall.
  • Debris build-up: The No. 1 cause of apparent stream leaks is debris build-up at the top of a waterfall. Dead leaves, sticks and other gunk form a kind of dam until the water rises up and out of your stream. Fixing your water loss issues is often a simple matter of removing the debris.
  • Pushed-down liner: Walk the length of your stream and look for sections of liner where the top edge seems to sit lower than it should. Your liner might have slipped where somebody stepped on it or heavy rains

Is It Just Evaporation?

Pond owners often assume that any drop in their water level means they have a leak in their pond. The reality is many apparent "leaks" are nothing more than normal evaporation.

A pond with a large, splashy waterfall will lose more water to evaporation than one with a smaller waterfall. Water features will also lose more water in a hot, dry summer than they will during a rainy spring. The key is to figure out what level of evaporation is normal for your pond.

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