A Quick Guide To Pond Pump Troubleshooting

The pond pump lies at the heart of nearly every decorative pond. You depend on it to produce the tranquil, relaxing sound of water cascading over rocks. Fish depend on it to provide the fresh, oxygen-rich water they need to survive. When it's out of commission, there's a good chance that neither of you will be happy with the end results.

Getting your pond pump back up and running means quickly and accurately diagnosing the problem at hand. The following offers a brief guide on how to do just that, including what to look for and how to fix those issues.

Troubleshooting by Ear

When it comes to troubleshooting a pond pump, your very own ears are the most valuable tool at your disposal. While you can't see much of anything with the average pond pump, you can at least hear what's going on with it. During your diagnosis, the noises you hear may indicate something amiss with your pond pump.

Loud sounds

Loud grinding noises, sometimes accompanied by vibration strong enough to create ripples along the pond's surface, could signal a wide variety of problems with the pond pump. For instance, loud vibrations may be due to the pump continuously bouncing off of a hard surface, such as the pond basin or the skimmer.

Placing a small piece of foam in between the pump and the offending surface is usually enough to quell down any large vibrations. You may also want to consider lowering the pump's water flow. The lower the flow, the quieter the pump will operate.

If you still hear grinding or rumbling noises from the pump afterwards, the problem may be a bit more serious:

  • The bearings on the water pump have failed, necessitating complete replacement of the unit.
  • The pump's impeller has fractured or broken, with debris potentially in and around the pump.

In the above cases, you're better off having the complete unit replaced, as opposed to attempting any fixes.

Soft Humming Sound

You hear a soft hum from the water pump, but there's no indication that it's actually pumping water:

It may not be receiving enough water. First, make sure there's nothing blocking the pump's intake or discharge plumbing. Next, make sure to check the pond's water level. Evaporation can cause water levels to drop, leaving the skimmer high and dry. Sometimes the pond pump will continue to run until it overheats and triggers its thermal cut-off switch.

The pump may be vapor-locked. Since the water pump is designed to push water, it's easy for air bubbles to become stuck and subsequently block the pump from pushing water through. The easiest way to deal with this is to tilt the pump so that the air bubble escapes the unit.

Complete Silence

If your pond pump is giving you the silent treatment, then you can take steps to get it on speaking terms again:

Check for an electrical connection. Make sure the pond pump is properly connected to its electrical source. If it's connected but there's no power, check the circuit breaker for the electrical outlet in question. If it's been tripped to the "off" position, flip it back on and operate the pump as usual. If the circuit breaker trips again, you should call your electrician for professional help.

Make sure it hasn't been thermally triggered. A dry pump will operate for only so long until it overheats, triggering its built-in thermal cut-off switch. Allow the pump to cool down and make sure it isn't running dry.  

Check the pump's ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Most pumps rely on a GFCI safety switch to prevent users from receiving shocks in the event of an electrical malfunction. Thunderstorms, power surges and unusual electricity demands can trigger GFCI switches. Make sure the pond's electrical outlet isn't being overloaded with other electrical demands and reset the switch. If it triggers again, there may be a problem with the GFCI itself.

The above tips should help you figure out what's going on with your pond pump. If none of the issues match with something above, make sure to contact a professional, such as Kona Land and Water Escapes, for more information.