Water levels in your pond will naturally drop due to evaporation, especially in the summertime. It can be a slow process if you live somewhere cooler, with high humidity, or it can be quick in a place with high heat and little humidity. In southern Arizona, you can lose up to 5 inches of water in 7 days, compared to the East Coast where 2 inches would typically be considered normal. Knowing your climate, and what amount of water loss is normal, helps determine if the water loss is due to evaporation or a leak.
Water levels are important for pond life, especially in the summer. If levels are dropping because of evaporation, they need to be refilled regularly. Your fish will not appreciate their environment shrinking. Leaks must be discovered and repaired to stop water loss. Low water levels can cause the overall water temperature to rise quickly, especially if the pond is direct sunlight. It is easier for the sun to heat shallow ponds. The warmer the water is, the less oxygen it holds.
How to check for a water leak:
1. Check waterfalls and stream cascades, this is where most leaks occur. You can check the stream by walking around your pond. Feel the grass and soil around the perimeter and see if there is any wet spots. You may have to dig up the ground or move rocks around to check and see if the water is escaping. You may get lucky and feel a wet spot of grass, but it may not be that obvious. Look around and behind the waterfall, the water may be falling or splashing behind the liner. If this is the source of the leak, you may need to build up the edges around the water feature or stream to contain the water. You can also use waterfall sealant to fill any gaps between rocks.
2. Loose fittings can be another source of a water leak in your pond. Look at each fitting, like tubing attached to a waterfall or spillway, and see if it’s wet or actively leaking. If there is a leak, you can attach a hose clamp and tighten it securely. Watch it for a few minutes, and make sure there is no water escaping from the fitting.
3. Your skimmer could also be the source of the water leak, but it’s easy to check. Temporarily turn your pump off and see if the water levels drop just below the skimmer door opening. If so, chances are you’ve found your culprit. Remove the faceplate, let it dry completely, and then reseal it with a clear silicone product. Make sure to follow the instructions for the silicon and let it dry before putting it back on the skimmer.
4. Tears in pond liners can happen when you’re making renovations or even just moving rocks around and redecorating. You can check for a tear in the liner by filling the water to its normal level and see where the water drops down to. If the water levels start dropping to much, you may need to temporarily move your fish and other pond life until the hole it patched. Carefully move around rocks and pavers until you find the tear. A pond patch will re-seal the tear, but it may take up to 12 hours for it to seal completely. Trim the patch into a circular shape, and make sure it covers one inch pass the tear in all directions.
Finding the source of your water leak can take a little bit of effort, but is necessary for your pond life. Evaporation is normal, and the amounts vary depending on where you live. If you live in a cooler climate with more humidity, you will lose less water from evaporation than in a dry, hot climate. Evaporation is more common in the summer because of the warmer weather, but if there is too much water loss, you may have a leak. Once detected, most leaks can be easily remedied. Once you find and seal your leak, you can relax and only look to replenishing the water lost from evaporation from time to time.