After years of being in the pond business, it could be said that we’ve sold A LOT of pond aeration systems. From small backyard koi pond aerators to mulit-acre lake packages, and just about everything in between.
In that time, we’ve learned, and observed, what it takes to keep these systems up and running for the long term and I wanted to share a bit more about that today.
This post was inspired, you might say, but a recent customer issue. The aerator had been running pretty well for about a year, and then the pump quit working. Since it had stopped completely and they had fish in their pond (and it was warming up) the customer wanted to resolve the issue quickly.
It was suggested to have this pump sent in for repair and during the inspection and repair, well, let’s just say this pump had appeared to have gone through a battle.
It was absolutely filthy with dust and dirt, and to make matters worse, we found small rocks and stones inside the motor housing. I’m not talking about inside a cabinet that normally goes around the pump, I’m talking inside the pump!
In discussions with the customer, we never did figure out how the rocks got into the pump, but they noted it was put under an open shed, on a board of plywood. And generally this should have been fine. In this particular case though, it looked like the pump may have gotten caught in a flood, or at the very least was placed in a very dusty or dirty area.
After all this, it wasn’t really such a shock to find that the pump only lasted a year.
Tender Loving Pump Care Works Best
Let’s get one thing on the table right up front. The pumps that power pond aeration systems are not necessarily cheap. Even the small compressors will cost several hundred dollars. But they are worthy of the expense in the sense that they are uniquely designed to run these air generating systems continuously. 24/7 operation is the norm, and in many cases they will run for years like this without any long down time.
If…they are cared for properly.
And caring for them adequately isn’t really all that complicated.
When you set up one of these systems, you can purchase a weather proof cabinet with the packages and most people do that. Unless they have an existing outbuilding or structure to protect the compressor from the elements. Some people use home made boxes as well, and they will work too with proper considerations.
Basically the pumps need to be kept dry and free of moisture. Second, as they run, they will heat up a good bit, especially the rocking piston type compressors, so really good cross ventilation is required to avoid over heating. All the cabinets we sell come with cooling fans in them, and even when you go without a factory cabinet it’s a good idea to have a fan on the pump at all times.
The cooler you keep them the longer they’ll last.
Air intake is critical to these devices. And clear air is a must. So be sure to keep the air filter on the intake clean and fresh. You want to minimize any dust or dirt and debris from getting inside the pump. The air will go right into the piston chamber (on rocking piston systems) and if it get’s too dirty in there it can make it harder for the pump to run smoothly. In really bad cases, like we noted above, it could jam up the pump altogether.
Most of the systems have a paper type filter (some may be foam) that can be replaced as needed. If the area where the compressor is kept is pretty dusty, changing this out every 3 months is probably about right. Some folks can go longer than this, but be sure to keep an eye on the filter cartridge. Replace it if it’s dirty.
Apart from the air filter, the only other real maintenance that may come up every few years is that the seals on the piston and piston chamber (rocking pistons again) will wear down and need to be replaced. It’s an easy process for the most part and can be done with a few simple tools. You can tell the seals are wearing down because some air output will be lost and the bubbling in the pond will not be as robust. If it it’s not producing bubbles at all, then you know a seal is probably leaking pretty badly by that point.
On linear compressors, the diaphragms are the air generating component and these too will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Again with a few minutes of time and some simple tools you can be back up and running quickly.
For Long Lasting Dependable Service, Keep Your Pump Protected And Maintained
In simple terms it really comes down to this. If you don’t have an acceptable, fairly clean, protected area to place your aerator pump, it’s probably best to just get a factory cabinet with the aeration kit. These are designed to protect and support the daily operation of the system.
If you have an existing building or structure, or a way to protect the compressor from the elements, then be sure to provide adequate ventilation and even a cooling fan at all times. Remember the cooler you can keep the pump, the longer it will likely last. Place the pump on a clean base or elevate it on a platform if necessary to keep the pump from getting exposed to dirt, dust, or moisture.
Change the air filters regularly.
Replace the seals or diaphragms as required to keep air output at adequate levels.
And probably the simplest thing of all, (except for some fella’s myself included) be sure to read the owners manual that comes with the system so you know how to care for the pump and were to get replacement parts.
Rest assured that most aeration systems on the market today are very well made. With some simple maintenance and attention, an aeration pump should run trouble free for years. They are designed, and best used, running continuously, and will do so if they are properly cared for.