Help review a quote for Koi pond repairs.
April 13, 2006 7:57 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I inherited a koi pond (about 8 by 3) or so with waterfall, when we purchased a house last month. The pump recently stopped working - it's a Speck Pump Model 90 - looks years old. We visited our local Garden Center and spoke to their pond guy and he gave us several things to try - none of which got the thing running again. Can any pond experts help me review a quote I got to have a new pump installed?

It appears that the current pump is just blowing air. We filled the basked in the pump with water and also the tub that is at the top of the waterfall. Also, I lifted the intake out of the pond so gravity wouldn't pull the water down and then we started the pump - still just air.

A local pond outfit gave me a quote of around $1,200 to get this thing up to snuff.

Here's an excerpt from his email:

"I wanted to reiterate my feelings about external pumps. They are not only a high–cost pump to run as far as energy consumption, but the entire plumbing would need to be replaced anyway. The old tubing and pipe would draw air and the new pump would lose the prime. These new submersible pumps never lose prime and are less expensive to run. There is a more substantial cost up-front, but the savings in electricity would pay for the pump within a year. Also, this new type of skimmer box filter is very low-maintenance, and keeps the pond very clean. The price listed in the estimate reflects a crew coming in and completing the work in one day."

For $1,200 here is what I'd be getting (installed):

1 – PS8000 Skimmer Box w/ artificial stone lid
1 – Supreme Hy-drive 4,000 gph pump
35’ – 1” flex PVC tubing
Pump assembly kit
1” x 1” fernco fitting
2 – Cans waterfall foam

Not sure if this is reasonable or needed? Any garden pond experts out there??

posted by mmangano to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
quite frankly, 4000 GPH sounds like overkill for the size of your pond, but I'm by no means an expert. That's a little over a gallon per second. That would make a pretty big waterfall I think.
posted by cosmicbandito at 8:07 AM on April 13, 2006

How wide is the waterfall?
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:45 AM on April 13, 2006

We had a pond put in our last house. It had a waterfall that was a little over a foot wide, and was run by a 2,000 GPH pump.

As for the cost, I'm guessing there's a fair bit of labor in there. You could probably do that yourself, if you wanted. The only part of mine that I didn't do myself was running electric to the area, and I'm not amazingly talented at these things.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:49 AM on April 13, 2006

The waterfall is sourced from a black tub that fills with water and has lava rocks in it. The water flows over a ledge that is about 6 inches wide or so and then the water flows down the slate waterfall.
posted by mmangano at 8:53 AM on April 13, 2006

If you're in any way handy, DIY and save yourself about $900.

Get a submersible pump, external filter and as much flex tubing as you need.

Run it this way: Submersible pump goes in the bottom of the pond>>> flex hose goes from the pump, out the surface of the lower pond and >>> into the external filter >>> flex hose goes out the filter and >>> up to the upper pond/tub/whatever body of water feeds the waterfall >>> then the waterfall feeds the lower pond and the cycle begins again.

I have a similar sized pond and here are the products I use:

Laguna Powerjet 900 - this is the pump (I have the fountain disabled. I just use it as a pump in the bottom of my pond.)

Hozelock Bioforce 1000 - this is the filter that sits outside the pond, between the lower and upper ponds. The hose runs through it and filters the water. THis need to be cleaned (rinsed out witha hose) about twice a month or so to keep it running smoothly.

I paid about $100 for the pump and $160 for the filter at a local garden supply store in Massachusetts. The miscellaneous hoses and clamps cost about another $30 or so.

If you can post a photo of your setup I might be able to give you more hints.
posted by evoo at 8:55 AM on April 13, 2006

Feh. Can't judge whether or not pipe replacement is needed without inspecting the site. If the current pipe is cracked and leaking air into the pump, it would be - But if the current pipe intake is just situated poorly, you can add an extension onto the input and get it below water.

From what I gather, they're going to be digging up an edge of your pond and installing a skimmer weir. Here's the guys on DIY Workshop doing it to give you an idea of what's involved. Most of what you're paying for is the labor - The pump's about $200, and I believe the rest of it (Pipe, fittings, weir) is $100 all together, or less. I don't necessarily think this particular pump is over-specified: It's large, but a lot of small pond pumps are very anemic. If the installer's had a lot of good luck with this brand, I can't blame him for spec'ing it.

Whether or not getting somebody to do a couple of days' worth of digging in the garden is worth $1000 is a question best left between your paycheck, the local labor market, and your personal hate for this kind of stuff.
posted by Orb2069 at 9:01 AM on April 13, 2006

My take is that it seems a bit overspecified (your waterfall and pond are smaller than mine was, but your pump is larger), but Orb2069 has a good point. The cost difference is pretty minimal, so if they've had good luck with a particular brand, it's worthwhile.

I guess the big remaining question is if you'd enjoy doing it yourself.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:37 AM on April 13, 2006

UPDATE: I took apart the Speck pump and found two small lava rocks in there that must have been impeeding the impeller.

Put it back together and everything works!

Thanks for all of the comments.
posted by mmangano at 5:41 PM on April 24, 2006

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