Plumbing tip for Newbies setting up a pond


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I setup my first pond last year. I guess I did OK (with tons of help from this forum) because although I introduced too many fish at the same time, I had no casualties. Well, until yesterday when the skimmer “flap” was stuck down and a Koi swam into the skimmer and died. Poor guy survived our New England winter just fine :(

But I did make one mistake. My pipes froze and blew up. My pond is built on a hill (no choice for location). It is part above-ground and part below-ground. The plumbing is PVC. Getting water to flow where I wanted required a Phd in physics (which I don’t have) so it was a lot of trial and error.

This was my first time working with PVC. I love the stuff! It’s very easy to fix mistakes by just cutting the pipe. Only thing, in order to connect a new fixture, the cut has to be fairly straight. It can be a little off, but too much and it won’t seal with a coupler. If you have enough clearance, I would guess that a hacksaw is best for this. If you are impatient (or make a lot of mistakes, like myself) a power tool is desirable. For me, the perfect tool was a portable band saw from Harbor Freight. If you have the clearance, it gives a great cut. For my system, it meant holding it in all kinds of unsafe positions. If you go that route be very careful (though I hear the probability of successful reattachment is higher with a band saw cut … just sayin :)

If you live in a climate where temperatures reach freezing, make sure that there are fixtures that will allow you to drain the pipes for the winter. I did this, but my pipes still blew up. Because of all the different “levels”, much of the water didn’t drain. This was an opportunity for me to cut out the fixtures that did nothing but remind me of how uncooperative water is. But you may not feel the same way. This time, I installed a few rubber couplers at strategic places. Next winter I’ll just unclamp them and pull the pipes apart.

Hope this helps someone!
 
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Another possibility is to blow out the lines with a shop vac. You might not get all the water out, but you should be able to get enough out that there is an air channel all the way through which the ice can expand into. I did that this year just fine and next year will work out a cap to screw in where needed to keep melt water out.
 

brokensword

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...or a compressor with an air fitting at the top of your line; much the way sprinkler systems are cleared for winter. That said, I'd make sure there is always an easy gravity fed path for the water to flow down and out. Only takes once where winter points out your mistakes to correct it though, I've found!


Michael
 

keyplayer

Worst Winter yet...
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I setup my first pond last year. I guess I did OK (with tons of help from this forum) because although I introduced too many fish at the same time, I had no casualties. Well, until yesterday when the skimmer “flap” was stuck down and a Koi swam into the skimmer and died. Poor guy survived our New England winter just fine :(

But I did make one mistake. My pipes froze and blew up. My pond is built on a hill (no choice for location). It is part above-ground and part below-ground. The plumbing is PVC. Getting water to flow where I wanted required a Phd in physics (which I don’t have) so it was a lot of trial and error.

This was my first time working with PVC. I love the stuff! It’s very easy to fix mistakes by just cutting the pipe. Only thing, in order to connect a new fixture, the cut has to be fairly straight. It can be a little off, but too much and it won’t seal with a coupler. If you have enough clearance, I would guess that a hacksaw is best for this. If you are impatient (or make a lot of mistakes, like myself) a power tool is desirable. For me, the perfect tool was a portable band saw from Harbor Freight. If you have the clearance, it gives a great cut. For my system, it meant holding it in all kinds of unsafe positions. If you go that route be very careful (though I hear the probability of successful reattachment is higher with a band saw cut … just sayin :)

If you live in a climate where temperatures reach freezing, make sure that there are fixtures that will allow you to drain the pipes for the winter. I did this, but my pipes still blew up. Because of all the different “levels”, much of the water didn’t drain. This was an opportunity for me to cut out the fixtures that did nothing but remind me of how uncooperative water is. But you may not feel the same way. This time, I installed a few rubber couplers at strategic places. Next winter I’ll just unclamp them and pull the pipes apart.

Hope this helps someone!
Although I have used power «chop saws» and even handsaws for these jobs
 
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keyplayer

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Although I have, in the past used power «chop saws» and even handsaws for these jobs, the SAFEST and best finished cut is made with a hand-operated Rotary Pipe Cutter. Made to cut metal, it will last forever on PVC, ABS, and other non-metals. The simple solution for FREEZING is to avoid gluing any pipes not under pressure -- if they're cleanly cut and properly prepared they're most unlikely to leak (perhaps a few drops now and then) simply press-fit but then they're demountable B4 the hard frost arrives. This has worked reliably for me for almost ten years. For Pond Pump PRESSURE lines (and don't sneer -- I've NEVER had one break!) I use marine BILGE HOSE which is half the price of that awfully recalcitrant and costly, overkill «Pond Hose». Bilge Hose is light, flexible and connects with easy-to-find PVC sleeves and SS Pipe Clamps -- again an easy de-mount at the end of the season. Additionally, the Bilge Hose is VERY resistant to freeze-bursting. Following the dictum about «unnecessary chemicals», much of the «designer» pond hardware can be duplicated easily and for a fraction of the cost with off-the-shelf consumer and construction items. It just takes a little imagination and research.
 

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