Water loss in pond - leak or evaporation

conidogAugust 17, 2006

Hello. I have a question I am hoping some of you pond experts might be able to answer. Bare with me because I want to make sure I give all the variables that may help with an answer. About one month ago I had a pondless waterfall and stream built. The pond portion isnt completely without water. I have the option of keeping about 3 inches of water at the bottom of a 4 x 4 portion of a rock and gravel pit. The gravel pit itself is about 4 feet deep. After the first few days I noticed the gravel portion was losing all of its water. In the beginning I didnt think much about it. I continued to add water and by the next day the water was gone. I was curious just how much it was losing so did a test with a 5 gallon bucket. It turns out it lost 40 gallons in 48 hours. I then turned off the waterfall to rule out a leak in the gravel pit. After 24 hours no water loss, so I knew there wasn't a leak in the pondless portion. I called the installer and let him know what was going on. He came out and was able to find a leak in the stream portion due to a misplaced rock causing a small overflow of water. Well, it turned out the pond was still leaking. The installer returned and said the second leak was due to a light that was placed by me in the waterfall portion. I would have no problem taking blame for something I did however no rocks were moved in his original design to place the light. Even with all of his fixes, I am still losing water. Right now I am down to about 10 gallons a day. I called the installer again and he says he doesnt know what to tell me since he doesnt see any leaks along the edges and because I "manipulated" his project by installing a light. He said it us probably just splash off and evaporation and doesnt seem willing to investigate further. After hearing his complaints of how it takes him 45 minutes to get to my house and how much time he is losing by looking for leaks, I am so disgusted I don't even want him back out here. So here is my question: Is it possible to lose 10 gallons a day due to splashing and evaporation. Temperatures are steady around 87 degrees with normal wind conditions. I'm really concerned since the water feature is close to my foundation. I can live with the water loss if I the structure itself isnt leaking. My main concern is one day I am going to end up with water in my basement from a leak. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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ocnative1964(z8 OR)

what is the length of the stream??? (surface area)

is the water pretty warm?

is there dirt on the sides of the stream? if there was a leak the ground where it is leaking should be damp.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 4:03PM
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The length of the stream is roughly 12 feet long and 20 inches wide. The water temp is average, depending on the time of day. It gets morning and early afternoon sun and shade the rest of the day. I wouldnt consider the temperature hot. The water temperature is comperable to running water from a faucet outside. There is dirt on the sides of the stream and from all investigation along the sides there is no evidence of a leak along the stream. My main concern is that it may be under the waterfall connecting to the pipe. The installer did end up coming back out yesterday evening and tightened up the pipe so we will be able to tell by this evening if it is still losing water. It looked somewhat lower this morning but it may be splash off. I am really curious to know how much water could be lost through the splashing. Anyone think it is possible to lose 10 gallons due to splash off? Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 12:33PM
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you wouldn't lose that much from evaporation. The water is either splashing out or running out somewhere.

Leaks are hard to find sometimes though.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 11:10PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

You can lose 10 gal easy from splash in a poorly designed water feature. But it should look like 10 gals of water were dumped on the ground. You can put dry towels on the ground/rocks, everwhere there is splash. Check after an hour and see how wet the towels are. Make sure none touch the actual water or where water should be draining from rocks back into the pond. You can even weigh the towels before and after to figure out about how much water is in them, times the number of hours you run the feature per day to get a guess at the daily/weekly/monthly loss from splash.

I've put in about 20 waterfalls, 10 pondless, and I have a perfect record. Every one of them leaked. I learned pretty fast to leave alittle liner exposed along the entire edge. The edge is turned up with concrete behind so it can't be pressed down by someone stepping on it. I also mortar all rocks to stop them from shifting in the future which can cause leaks. Only a tiny bit is left exposed. This also means there are no rocks spanning from inside the liner to outside. Water traveling along rocks is where I have most leaks.

I'm always amazed how far water can travel and pop out. Most times the leak is fixed pretty far from the leak but I also fix the edge to reduce problems in the future.

After running the feature for a few minutes it's easy to see and fix leaks. A week or so later I cover the edges and get to hear from the owner if they saw any problems.

Leaks are so hard to fix in a poorly built system that it's probably best to rip it out and start over. That's not as bad as it sounds but of course not what you want to hear.

In a 12' stream you could have several leaks all so small it's hard to tell exactly where just from looking at soil. You can try digging away soil at the edges to see if that exposes anything.

You are right about leaks causing problems long term. Always hard to say exactly what the problem will be.

Your installer has a pretty good out because of the work you did. Right or wrong.

Any installer that says there won't be leaks is lying or installing their first water feature. You want one that'll say there could be leaks and that he'll come out and fix them or rip it out and return your money.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 12:21AM
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Thanks so much for your tips. After the installers latest pipe fix it looks like the water loss is down to 7 from 10 gallons. So I think I am getting there slowly but surely. With waterbug_guy's comments, I think I am going to start over at the edges of the stream and look there. I will pull back the gravel and see if I can see any damp patches and then look at the waterfall level. I appreciate all of the time you took to offer your suggestions. Wish me luck! :) I hope everyone has a good weekend!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 12:18PM
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okpondlady(7a Oklahoma/Mounds)

Personally, if he had that many problems fixing the problem he created I would contact the Better Business Bureau. Especially if he is in a larger city like Springfield or Joplin. That will get his attention much faster than just calling. AND he might even be more inclined to fix it. If nothing else, you can figure you have cut into his business a time or two because there are rather alot of us that check references with the BBB before we go spending that many $$$. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: B-Cubed's Blog and Pictures...

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 4:48PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

I'm not real sure this guy can fix the problem. I mean if you don't know how to do it right to begin with... I think it takes alot of construction experience to fix a leak if that makes sense.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 6:56PM
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I am having a similar problem to Zafo. Did Zafo get his problem fixed and how? I have eliminated the pond as the source of the leak. This week I elevated the sides of the fall to reduce or eliminate splash out or leaks from the side of the waterfall. I don't believe that there are leaks in the plumbing. Any other suggestions? Too cold for much evaporation as I'm getting water loss.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 7:08PM
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horton(6 b Ontario.)

Trigger, waterfalls are usually the main culprit for causing water loss. Due to the water escaping behind the liner or being drawn into a fold/tuck in the liner that acts like a syphon tube and draws the water away.

The same thing happens around the edge of the pond especially after a heavy rain. The liner folds fill with water and keep on syphoning water out, even when the rain stops. This can be fixed by pumping silicone seal into the fold, with a caulking gun, where the liner comes over the edge of the pond. That will plug the syphoning fold off.
I hope yu can find it, as there is nothing more annoying than an elusive water loss problem in the pond system.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 8:03AM
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Okay, I have a similar question. Here's the setup. I have 2 preformed ponds with a waterfall connecting them and they get full sun all day. The top pond is around 50 gallons, the bottom is around 160 gallons. The waterfall is about 4 ft long and 1 1/2 ft wide. The waterfall is a separate piece of liner attached to the inside of the top pond. I have used everything imaginable to seal that liner to the pond so that SHOULDN'T be the problem. The water level in the bottom pond has dropped about 3 inches over the last few days but it's been around 90 every day and I seem to have a whole flock of birds that love to stand in the waterfall and splash around. I can't use the dirt around ANYTHING to find out if or where it's leaking since we've had about 6 inches of rain in the last few weeks and everything is still soaked. So I'm wondering if it's possible to lose around an inch of water a day from evaporation and birds? Or do I have ANOTHER leak (in which case I GIVE UP!!!!)?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 8:26AM
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I too am wondering about the 2inches of evaporation that I seem to have each week in my pond, but the water wicking from the folds is making sense to me, just don't know what I'm doing so will live and learn I guess!ha! I still am amazed that it took me this long to have such a wonderful addition to my serenity!!!heh heh! Ponds RULE!!!!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 11:51AM
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Hi we had 2 small pondds in hour garden 'made by last tenent' So we decided to take that out and make a big one 2meters by 1meter, depth half a meter, we have a small water fall and fountain with plants, we put fish in was looking good, Then disaster the wather started to go down so we 'topped it up'' the fish started to die 1 sometimes 2 at a time, water still leaking, By this time most of the fish had gone, so we drained the water 'put remaining fish in a tank' we got another pond liner ;deciding to put the old one on the bottem for extra layer, got new liner in situ, filled with water put in plants left it for a week got the water checked to make sure we could get more fish, so far so good, we were really pleased to beable to then add fish we got 2 to start off see how they went on, Yes they are doing really well so hoped to ge some more in this weekend, BUT alas where is the water going !!!!! you guessed it went out monday morning about 1 inch of water gone, topped it up with rain water out of the Butt fine come Teusday water still gone down *fish still looking ok* Surely we said not another leak... if so this pond could end up becoming a rose garden, MY question is why would i be loosing water yet again other than another leak, Please answer this for me . Gerry (felale)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 5:41AM
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My pond is about 3mts. x 2 mts, and about 2 mtr deep. yesterday the pond was full and I had added a little water, i have had the pond for 7 years, but have not had to look after it now the job is mine. this morning it was nearly empty and my fish were flapping about I quickly filled it with water and have been checking it does not seem to be leaking anywhere, what do you think happened

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 8:01AM
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Back to the second sentence in the first post. I read your post but, thank you, no, I would rather not bare with you.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 12:44PM
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Back to the second sentence in the first post. I read your post but, thank you, no, I would rather not bare with you.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 12:45PM
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Hi Caterina; I gather that you just googled in here. This post is essentially eight years old. How about creating a NEW post about finding a big leak. Some folks may not even look and others will be annoyed at reading thru unrelated info. That may be why the previous poster didn't get any answer. That post was two years old!! Tell us if you have a water fall and where the pump is etc. and if you have a liner. Sounds like a disconnected pipe to me.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 3:43PM
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I live in LAS VEGAS, NV average temp 100-108 degrees lately and have about a 1400 gal pond with koi and goldfish. In the summer I fly shade over the pond. I notice a big WATER LOSS the other day and was worried because I just bought a 20x 20 42mil liner. I did a TEST. I filled it back up to a marked line. Shut the PUMP OFF for 24HRS . Adjusted the laguna water filter so the water runs directly into the pond (not touching the sides). Raised it of the rocks it was sitting on (air circulates under now). Only 20" water fall. Added another shade cover-now a mostly covered pond. After 24hrs the pond stop 3 1/2 " of water from evaporating. I only loss water through HEAT, WIND, SUN EXPOSURE and possible filter placement. NO leaks. Following days I turn the pump back on and only about a 1/8 " loss. Hope this helps!!!!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:00PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

Personally I love threads that span years. Like looking through a scrapbook.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:41PM
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