Should You Run Your Water Feature In Winter?

should you run your pond in the winter
There is a pond here somewhere under all the ice and snow!

Although the question of if you should run your pond or waterfall in winter has been around since snowflakes first landed on ponds' surfaces, the question has become a much bigger debate for us at Cool Ponds recently.

In Indiana, our winters are becoming more unpredictable. Will we have 60 degree days? Will we have 6 degree days? Will we have both in the same week? Who knows!

In short terms: Cool Ponds recommends you shut your water feature down for the winter. 

The choice is of course a personal one, and many of you may feel differently than we do. Here's why we came to this (difficult) conclusion.

how to shut your waterfall down for winter
All this ice formation is from the water feature itself -- that's a lot of lost water.

Topping your water feature off in the winter can be difficult. 

You will still lose water from evaporation in the winter time, especially if you have a large waterfall. And remember that any ice that forms on the top of your feature is ice from your feature -- meaning that if you have 3" of ice on the top of your pond, that's water that's not available for your pond.  

To top off your water feature in the winter, you'll need and unfrozen spigot, a heated hose, or a way to hook up a hose on the inside of your house.

One of the last things we want to do when it's -10 degrees outside is worry about filling up the pond.

In polar winters, you run the risk of burning up your pump or splitting your tubing -- either way, it's costly.

As we said, you'll lose water in the winter time. If your pump runs out of water before you have a chance to fill the water feature, your pump may burn up. And if the pump goes out and there's any stagnant water sitting in the tubing, even if it's underground, that still water can freeze and burst your tubing. In either scenario, the repairs can cost a lot of money. Repairs are not a fun way to start your spring!

If you aren't able to enjoy your water feature, why run it?

If you find yourself traveling a lot in the winter, there is no reason to run your water feature. If you can't sit inside and enjoy the sight of your water feature (you have to go outside to see it) the only reason to run it is for the critters in your yard.

These are all questions you need to answer for yourself and your water feature.

So let's assume you're listening to our sage advice and want to shut down your water feature for the winter.

How do you shut down your water feature for winter?

1) If you can, wait until leaves have fallen to shut your feature down. That way your filter (e.g. a skimmer) can filter those leaves out.

2) Shut your feature down before you have ice on the pond. This is mostly about our own comfort. Icy water is not fun to reach into!

3) Unplug the pump and REMOVE the pump from  your water feature. This is very important! If you're not sure how to remove the pump from your skimmer or pondfree waterfall vault, check out our video here.

4) Store your pump in a bucket of water in a freeze-proof location. This will keep any rubber seals within the pump lubricated.

5) Be prepared to reinstall your pump in March or April. You'll want to get your filtration system running again as temperatures begin to rise in the spring.

should you run your waterfall in winter
If you can manage the winter care, water features in snow are absolutely beautiful.

If you decide to run your pump in the winter, just remember to keep an eye on your water feature! Make sure it has plenty of water, watch for ice dams, and know how to take your pump out just in case.

Winter time usually brings a lot of questions for water feature owners. Here's some more info if you need it:

General Winter Advice

Running a De-Icer vs. An Aerator

More De-Icer Advice

Fish In the Fall and Winter

Winter Care for Aquatic Plants

Setting Up a Winter Airline (link to video)

We hope you have a safe, pleasant winter this season! Let us know if we can help!


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