Customer Reviews
Customer Reviews

Pond Pump Troubleshooting

Pond and Waterfall Pump Troubleshooting

So your pond or waterfall pump is not running. DO NOT PANIC! There are many benign reasons that your pond pump may not be working – most of which have nothing to do with the pump being broken.

Check for the following items before replacing your pond or waterfall pump.

  • Pond Pump Power Supply - Be sure that you have electrical power to the pond pump - see below for details.
  • Pump Thermal Overload - The pump is either not properly submerged or worn bearings are causing the pump to overheat.DIY Pond Pump Repair
  • Flow blockage - Most pond pumps have a plastic screen or larger opening to protect the impeller from large objects. Check to be sure the screen or opening is clear and allows water to flow to the impeller.
  • Impeller jams & broken impellers - Check the impeller to be sure that it is in good condition and can turn freely - see below for more information.
  • Airlock - a condition where air is trapped in the pump impeller chamber and will not allow water to reach the impeller 

Pond Pump Power Supply

Check the power supply to be sure that there is power to the pump outlet.  All pumps should be connected to a Ground Fault Interrupter circuit (GFI or GFCI).  The GFI can take one of 2 forms, a GFI protected outlet or a GFI protected circuit breaker.  The outlet is easily identified by its test and reset buttons located between the 2 sockets on an 115V circuit.  Simply press the reset button, plug the pump back in and check the operation.  If a GFI outlet is not present, check the circuit breaker panel for the electrical circuit that supplies your pump.  A GFI circuit breaker will typically have a yellow test button on the breaker.  If the breaker is tripped (indicated by orange showing in the sight window on some breakers or lever positioned between on and off for other breakers) or off, reset  the breaker by first moving the lever to the off position and then to the on position.  Again, plug the pump in and check operation. 

If the GFCI protection continues to trip, there are 3 possible causes - 

  1. The pump seal is damaged and water has entered the motor compartment
  2. There is a short somewhere in the circuit (often another outlet or extension cord), or
  3. The GFI breaker or outlet is defective.

To determine whether the pump is causing the GFI outlet to trip, unplug everything from the circuit. Then try another item with an electric motor such as a power drill in the outlet. If the outlet does not trip, the pump has a fault and should be replaced.

Pond Pump Thermal Overload 

If your submersible pump has been run dry or in water that does not completely cover the pump casing, unplug the pump.  Most modern submersible pond pumps are fitted with a thermal protection device.  Simply put, the thermal protection device turns the pump off if it overheats.  A pond pump WILL get hot and trip the thermal protection if the pump is run dry or is not completely submerged.  Simply waiting and filling the pond to the appropriate level will often reset the thermal protection switch and allow the pump to resume normal operation.   It can take the thermal protection over an hour to reset so be patient.  If patience just isn’t your thing, place the pump in an ice water bath for 15 minutes, reinstall, and check the pump operation. Some thermal protection systems require that the power to the pump be turned off to reset the protection circuit. Simply unplug the pump for a minute and then plug it back in.

Pond Pump Blockages

If your pond pump only hums when power is applied, it will be necessary to inspect the impellers.  In many pump models you can access the pump impellers by removing a few screws or bolts.  ALWAYS UNPLUG THE PUMP OR DISCONNECT THE POWER SUPPLY BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO ACCESS THE PUMP IMPELLER OR OTHER INTERNAL PARTS! 

If there is a blockage or clog in the impeller, remove the clog, replaced the impeller cover, reconnect the power supply, and test operation. If the impeller does not turn and there is no blockage, the bearings or motor windings may be seized.  Gently twist the impeller back and forth to try to free the mechanism.  If the pump has been stored dry for an extended period, you can try to soak the pump (for submersible pumps only) in water for several hours.  This will sometimes free the bearings.  If the impeller shaft has a significant amount of play in it and/or is free for a portion of its motion and then seizes, the bearings are likely damaged beyond repair and the pump should be replaced. 

Pond Pump Air Lock

Air lock is condition that occurs when air is trapped in the pump impeller housing and prevents the pump impeller from contacting water.  Most air lock conditions can be resolved by gently rocking the pump or angling the intake of the pump to release trapped air from the pump chamber.

We hope that you have solved your pond pump problem and are no longer reading….

However, if you’re still reading, chances are that the pump is beyond repair and needs to be replaced.  We would like to help improve your day - get discounted pricing on your replacement pump purchase by entering coupon code BADPUMP16 at checkout.

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For very large and commercial waterfall applications, we can special order a pond pump of any size to fit your needs. 

Contact us now to inquire about special order pumps