Winter Pond Maintenance
Do I Leave My Waterfalls Running or Pull the Pump?
Think I’ll Shut My Waterfall Down..
Many of our Twin Cities (Minneapolis & St. Paul) Pond customers choose to shut down their pond for the winter because they don’t want to worry about ice dams or pay for the cost to run a larger pump. If you choose to shut down your waterfall for the winter, you’ll need to replicate the effects of the waterfall by keeping the water oxygenated.
Since we do get sub freezing weather here in Minnesota, you should pull the Waterfall Pump from your skimmer & store it for the winter in a frost-free location, submerged in a bucket of water.
You’ll also need to add a floating heater or de-icer in order to keep a hole open in the ice. Most heaters are equipped with a thermostat that, when set at the proper temperature, switches the heater on only when needed.
Do not confuse a floating pond de-icer with a water heater. A pond de-icer won’t heat the water; it will simply keep a small hole open in the ice. A floating heater alone, however, will not oxygenate the water, so it should be used in conjunction with a Agitating pump or Pond Aerator.
Additional Tips About Operating Your Pond Through The Winter Months
Tips for Winter Pond Keeping
Keeping your pond running during the frozen months of winter will allow you to enjoy the beautiful ice sculptures that form in the stream and waterfall. Although beautiful, it’s possible that the ice buildup can form dams that could divert your pond water out of the pond. Check on the waterfall and stream and monitor the water level periodically throughout the winter. If you see an ice dam forming or the water level dropping at a high rate, your pond might be losing water because of the frozen sculpture and it might be time to turn off the pump for the winter. If you decide to leave the pond running until warmer weather, however, your main concern is to ensure there is enough water for the pump(s) to operate properly.
Can a Pond Run Through the Entire Winter?
During the winter months, the usual water supply options are not available. Outdoor water spigots and automatic water fill valves should be turned off to prevent pipes from freezing and cracking. Therefore, pond owners who run their systems during the winter will have to find an alternate water source to replenish their pond. Water can be supplied via a hose run from inside the house or by making multiple trips with a five-gallon bucket. Generally speaking, it’s not uncommon to have to go out a few times a month during the winter to “top off” the pond.
Won’t the Waterfall Freeze Solid?
Pump size is important when determining a waterfall’s ability to operate during the winter. A pump that provides at least 2,000 gph can be operated throughout the winter without a problem, as long as it runs continuously. Moving water will usually keep a hole open in the ice around the waterfalls and in front of the circulation system. However, repeated days in sub-zero temperatures may lead to excessive ice build-up and can cause the system to operate improperly. If the flow of water into the circulation system is unable to keep up with the pump because of ice build-up, it may be necessary to shut the system down. The system can be run again once the ice is melted and normal water flow is restored.
Will the Filters and Pipes Crack?
Most good filters are constructed out of rotational-molded polyethylene, and are designed to bow and bend with the freezing and thawing effects of winter. The PVC flex pipe is reinforced and will also not crack unless water is left in the pipe over the winter and allowed to freeze. If you decide to keep the pump running all winter long, there will still be a constant flow of water traveling through the pipe, and the moving water will not freeze.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line for preparing your pond for Winter is maintenance. Roughly 70 percent of pond owners in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, decide to shut down their system because they don’t enjoy tending to their water garden during the bitter months of the winter. The aesthetic rewards of the winter pond are absolutely worthwhile though, so by all means; don’t be afraid to keep the system running as long as possible. Shutting down a pond during winter is also an option. Just be sure you take precautionary measures to preserve fish, plant, and pump life.