Ponds and Pumps

DSC_5440-2I woke up this morning and did my usual tour around the garden carrying my plastic bucket full of fish food, feeding as I normally do and checking to see that everything made it through the night. I used to send Richie, my male Dachshund out to check but he sometimes gets waylaid with the overnight smells and forgets to to do the job. He is not very good at feeding the fish as he has taken a liking to the fish food for himself. Then when he does come back in, I can’t understand a word he says so it is simpler to check for myself. That way, at least I know that the fish are being fed.

The very first pond that I visited was the 5000 gallon original big pond, the first one I built 25 years ago and lo and behold, one of the pumps was not working. This is a multi use pump and drives a waterfall, a bubbler urn that sits in the middle of the pond, another urn that sits on the bank and has water flowing out of it and finally, a small Skippy filter that I installed to help keep the water clean. This pump is pretty important to the entire scheme of things for this particular pond.

No big deal, I thought, I’ll just check my supply of used pumps and find one that is working and do a quick change. Well, all the best laid plans and all that stuff just didn’t work out. I dug out five separate pumps that had all been used previously and were stored in one of my sheds and carefully checked each one by plugging it in to the nearest outlet to see if it worked. Four out the five I pitched onto my used pump pile where I probably have 12-15 old, used and broken pumps collected over the years. The fifth pump worked when I tried it so I planned to use it in place of the burned out one. If my memory was better or if I was more organized, I would chuck the useless pumps onto the stack just as soon as they die instead of having to check them out, one by one at a later date to see if they are still working.
DSC_5435-2You can tell from the dirty water that one of the filters is not working and the sooner I get everything back up and running, the happier the fish will be. Of course, the big Koi in this pond are notorious for stirring up the mud and both filters have to work very hard to keep the water anywhere near clean.

I must mention that I have been experimenting with using two 12 x 12 plastic baskets with one inverted on top of the other and the pump in between in an effort to stop the many blockages caused by the leaves and debris in the ponds. This  pump sits in the pond itself and not in a skimmer so it is prone to blockages although it never completely stops flowing, just doesn’t flow as well. BTW, this is not my idea as Jeff Yarborough from Emerald Gardens, now Leaf Landscape Supply put me up to it. You have to do a little trimming for the inlet pipe to poke through the basket and then use cable ties or drill and use nuts and bolts to hold the thing together. As it turned out, this particular pump that I dug up was already in a basket and with a little adjusting, I was able to get the pipes lined up and placed the unit in the water. DSC_5444The big moment came as I plugged it in and after a few fits and starts, the pump began to push the water through although without much pressure. It ran for probably two minutes and then quit entirely. So much for that effort. I jerked it out of the water after disconnecting it, removed it from the basket and added the pump to the broken pump pile. I searched around in the shed and found one more that worked just fine but it was only a 1200 gph pump and I knew that it would not handle the requirements of driving four separate water features.

So, there was nothing else for it. I was going to have to visit my favorite store, Home Depot and buy a new pump which I proceeded to do. I am lucky that I am caught between two such stores both about the same distance away. I ended up with a 3600 gph pump that I knew would replace the one that no longer worked. It cost me $189 but should be good for a couple of years at least that is how long it is warrantied…

Yeah, right, we all know that it will probably burn out a couple of weeks after the warranty expires. They always do. This pump was almost exactly the same as the one it was replacing so that also in my favor was the fact that the pump inlet was the same size as the existing pipework and I would not have to make any adjustments. I paid for my wares and jumped into my car to drive home.

Did I mention that when I bought my new car last year, it came already programmed to stop at every Starbucks. The only way to prevent it is to buy something. Only then will it pass the rest of them without stopping so with this in mind, I was “forced” to buy a grande latte at the Starbucks in Bee Caves in order to make the journey the rest of the way home. I think my car knows the location of every Starbucks in Austin and the surrounding towns.

DSC_5442It took me ten minutes to put everything back together with the new pump and when I plugged it in, water came out all of the appropriate places with considerable pressure and my pond was back to normal again. Now all I have to do is to wait for the second Skippy filter help to clean up the water.

The whole episode got me thinking of the number of broken pumps that I have stored up over 25 years of ponding. I did not realize there were so many as the stack is not something that I look at very often. Guess I need to make a trip to the junk yard to get rid of them.  Wonder if there is a market for used and broken pumps and where the nearest junk yard is. Hope there is a Starbucks on the way…

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