Everything You Need to Know About Pond Pumps
Pond pumps are using along with biological pond filters to move and circulate water. The pumps use an impeller to draw water in one end and pushes it out through the other end. Where it would flow through the pipe to the top of the waterfall or into the filter.
How to Choose the Correct Pond Pump for the Job
There are two main types of pumps which are subersible, or external.
Submersible pond pumps are the most popular because they are safe, easy to use, come in a wide range of sizes and outputs and are becoming more energy efficient.
Submersible pumps can be plugged directly into an GFCI electircal outlet with no hardwiring required. but make sure that the pump you buy has enough cable to reach a the outlet from where it will be placed in the water feature. There are some pumps that can be can special ordered with very long power cords (50-100').
While you can run your pond pumps power cord above ground, or hidden under soil or paving, it should be enclosed with a cover on the outlet. And the power from the main power supply to the outlet should be on a breaker and protected in a strong conduit. Check your cities building codes, but on average a good depth is 2ft.
External Pond Pumps or sometimes called surface running pumps are becoming more popular as people are realizing the energy savings and big water flow they provide. Their main drawback is that these pumps are harder to install. Most get installed outside of the pool and above the water level in a well ventilated housing chamber.
Important note: At the time I am writing this energy costs have been rising and solar pond pumps are making a entance in the industry. Stay tuned for more info and pumps that will be introduced.
Checklist For Buying a Water Feature Pump
Questions to ask yourself before you purchase your pump:
- What will the pump be used for? Pond, Waterfall, Fountain?
- What is the distance from the pump to the electrical socket?
- What will be the diameter of the pond pipe be?
- Are you going to have a pond filter? If so, is the pump rated for continous duty use?
- If your project includes a waterfall, what is the height of the header pool above the main pond and what is the distance the water will have to travel in length and height. This is referred to as head height.
- How wide will your waterfall be, and what kind of flow are you looking for? 60 gallons per hour for every 1 inch of width is a general rule of thumb.
- How many gallons of water will be in your water feature? What kind of turnover rate do you need for the filter you will be using?
- Fountains - What style of fountain do you have in mind? What height do you have the spray to reach? A foaming jet fountain, for example will need a strong pump to push water with more force through the venturi valves in a geyser to give you a cool frothy effect.
How to Setup and Position Your Pump
The type of water feature you are installing will determine where you will position the pump.
Depending on the filteration you use you can either locate the pump directly underneath the waterfall if no filter is used, this will reduce strong currents and be less taxing on your pump. Or, you if you are using a filter it should be located so that it is at the furthest point away from the waterfall and it will be drawing all the water from the pond into the pump with no dead zones. If your design has a large surface area and odd shapes you can add sattelite pond skimmers into the design to take care of these areas.
Once you have that figured out run your electical outlet as close to the area as you can. Dig a small trench to where the pump will be postioned to the outlet. It is a good idea to still place the power cord in a protective sheath like flexible armored plastic pipe. That way if your adding some pond plants or something later down the road, and accidentally hit it with a shovel it wont damage the power cord.
Most water gardeners use pond skimmers these days. Installing is as simple as placing the pump on the bottom of the skimmer. Hooking up the plumbing fittings. Running the power cord to the outlet. Plug it in, and your good to go.
With exteranal pond and waterfall pumps you will need to find a nice level area above the water lever. Preferrably somewhere that the pump can be easily hidden and accessed for maintenance.
Most pumps are able to handle small amounts of solids. But, you should still check for debris building up once a week during the season to make sure its not getting clogged. There are many variables here. Depending on what kind of mechanical filtration you have installed before the water reaches the pump that will factor into how often you need to clean the pump.
Some smaller ponds are good with placing a small pond pump in a pump sock prefilter and larger ponds require pre-filtering with pond skimmers, filter mats, etc.
Atlantic's Pump Lineup Video:
Here is a video done by Atlantic Water Gardens showcasing some of their pumps and maintenance. You can purchase the Atlantic pumps from us here.
Water Flow Vs. Time Chart – Using the 5 Gallon Bucket Method
I found this nice little chart at Mid-Columbia Koi & Pond Club by Ron Boedecker. It does a nice job of providing an easy way to measure the amount flow and time through a pump, biological filter, or waterfall. Which is important for proper bio filtration.
If your like me.. you don't like math, so this chart is very handy to have around instead of just guessing. It will give you an accurate measure of those quantities by simply measuring the time required to fill a 5 gallon bucket and giving you an accurate flow figure.
The chart below will shows you the difference between the time it takes to fill a 5 gallon bucket, and the total galllons per minute (GPM) and also the gallons per hour (GPH) number.
How Much Flow You Need for a Waterfall
In general it takes about 36 gallons of water per minute to make a waterfall 1' wide by 1" deep. Which 1" deep is kinda the standard for residential waterfalls.
So with this info just multiple the width of the waterfall by 36 and that will give you the gallons per minute needed to make a 1" thick water flow over your falls.
(width of waterfall) X 36 = Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
Sample - 3' wide waterfall would require 108 GPM.
If you have any other pond or waterfall pump related questions feel free to contact us!