Can a pond run throughout the winter?

Pondless Waterfall in the Winter

Pondless Waterfall in the Winter


Can a pond run throughout the winter?

Yes, although maintenance is usually the determining factor in whether or not a pond owner keeps their pump and waterfalls running in the winter. The primary maintenance responsibility at this time is to make sure there is enough water for the pump to operate properly.

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 need to find an alternate water source to replenish their pond.

Water can be supplied from 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, as water will evaporate slowly.

Pondless Waterfall in Winter

Pondless Waterfall in Winter


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 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. If you decide to turn the system off for the winter, most of the water in the pipe will drain back into the pond when the pump is removed.

Pond Winterization Lancaster PA

Pond Winterization Lancaster PA


What should be done with the pump once the system is shut down?

Remove the pump from the system and store it in a frost-free location.

To extend the life of the pump, clear the impeller shaft free of any debris before winter storage. It is also beneficial to spin the impeller a couple of turns by hand before turning it on in the spring. This prevents any corrosion or debris from seizing the impeller and interrupting proper pump function.

Fountain in Winter

Fountain in Winter


What about the filter?

When preparing the pond for winter, remove the filtration media and rinse it down. It is recommended to store any such media in a frost-fee location like a garage or shed. If left over the winter, all of the filtration media may freeze into a solid block, causing unnecessary delays during spring clean-out.

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Winter Pond Lancaster, PA


Will the fish be okay?

Ornamental fish will do just fine in two feet of water, as long as some form of aeration is provided, and a hole is kept in the ice to allow the escape of harmful gases.

There are a couple of products designed to help protect your fish during the winter. The AquaForce® is a great winterizing pump. It’s a recirculating bubbler pump designed to sit in the pond and oxygenate the water. The adjustable discharge pipe on the pump should be located just below the surface of the water. The flow from the pump will bubble at the surface of the pond and maintain an opening in the ice.

If you live in a region that experiences long periods of extremely cold weather, you will also want to consider adding a floating de-icer in combination with the Aquaforce® recirculating pump. The de-icer will add the extra insurance that there is always a hole open in the ice for oxygenation … even during extreme weather conditions.


The Bottom Line

The bottom line for winterization is maintenance. Roughly 70 percent of pond owners in the colder climates 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.
Make Sure to install a Pond Heater

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Author: Bobby Kenyon
Bobby Kenyon is the Creative Solutions Guru for C.E. Pontz Sons who has over a decade plus experience in the Landscape & Water Garden industry . He enjoys long walks on the beach and grocery shopping but has a strong dislike for regular cake and off brand paper towels

One Response to 'Can a pond run throughout the winter?'

December 6, 2015, 3:47 pm

After reading your article on shutting down the pond for the winter, we are interested in trying it for the first time. Not having to add water to the pond during the colder months sounds appealing. I looked up the AquaForce pump you mentioned, but it seems there are different models. Which one exactly do you recommend? It looks like they run around $220. Is that correct? We are currently one of your customers. You can contact me by email or phone. 717-786-1715 Thanks, Peggy Thomas (650 Dry Wells Road, Quarryville, Pa.)

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