Plastic liner leak????What the?

Discussion in 'Water Features' started by n2h20, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. n2h20

    n2h20 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 503

    So i built a 5' x 7' x 2.5' pond 5 years ago for this guy,. He bought the liner from home cheapo, those plastic flexible type... I installed the liner, rocks, pump, filter, etc. . so anyways.. no problems for 5 years.

    He calls me up to replace his old pump.
    No problems, i go over there take out the old pump ( it had about 4 feet of kink free tubing going into a 3/4" pvc pipe),
    drain about 5"s of water (water was about 40 degrees)
    replace the kink free and then lower the new pump to the bottom.
    Top off the pond and leave.

    He calls me that night and says "thank you for coming out so quickly" and "wow you took alot of water out of the pond" I think to myself hmmm i only left it maybe an inch lower than it was when i got there.

    Well the next day he calls again and says the pond is about 2/3 empty.

    SO i figure the kink free had a leak or something.. replace that again, and it still leaks.
    So Saturday I take the fish out of the pond and tell him not to do anything till Wednesday (yesterday). I check the pond and its fuller than when i left saturday, i call him and he said he filled it up to see if it would leak faster, said it water level hadnt moved in 12 hours.
    so i made a mark on the liner and filled it up about 4"s, and made another mark,
    I go over today and it went down about an inch.

    I checked yesterday at the level it was, for any cracks, tears, holes or anything that could cause water to vanish. NOTHING.....
    I dont know what else to do. Ive been to this guys house (30 miles round trip) 5 times since i put the pump in.
    No obvious fault of mine.
    And no visible problems.

    What should i do?
    Do i charge him anything?
    Do i tell him he is on his own and its his fault for buying a cheap liner and these things happen?
    Do i keep going over there till i find a hole and patch it?

    Does any body know about those "plastic" type liners? not the cheap preformed kind, just the semi stiff flexible type, I think its a beckett liner...
    Can those be patched like a regular liner?

    Thank guys....and gals.
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    You didn't say if there was a stream or not
    Usually 99.5 percent of the time it is the stream going into the pond

    What are the temps there right now? full sunlight?

    I would tell him what you said, it was not you and that you would come back and troubleshoot on a time and material basis, if you find out it was your fault you will not charge him. But you have to charge him for the next trip. It is only fair
  3. n2h20

    n2h20 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 503

    no stream, just a little waterfall.
    The pump only ran the first night. I told the guy to turn the pump of around 9am the next morning. All this has happened with the pump OFF.
    Whatever it is, its in the pond.

    Temps are about 60-70 degrees, with clouds. Around here with a standing (no movement/stream/fall) pool/pond of water and full sunlight this time of year i would expect 1-2"s a week water loss.

    I almost think he is doing something to this pond so he can justify to his wife on why he needs to redo/EXPAND the pond. :)

    Do those liners "breakdown" after awhile, I wonder? I know it is super stiff and feels like it would almost just crack off IF i tried to undo a fold.
  4. Jscapes

    Jscapes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 10

    You're in a tough spot-been there many times. If the liner is PVC, it can become brittle and crack in 5 yrs. if in shallow water and exposed to sunlight and cold. The factory seams can also come apart in the same areas. The good thing is that the PVC glue works better at patching than the adhesive patches for EPDM liners. The bigger problem is that once the PVC starts deteriorating, it will continue to leak at different places. The prorated warrantees only cover a decreasing percentage of the liner cost and labor is by far the higher cost of finding & fixing the leak. If you're sure the leak isn't at the waterfall, check any areas you stepped or moved rocks etc. Figure the time it will take to find/fix a leak vs. relining with EPDM (if you don't have to seam it). Emphasize the inferior qualities of PVC vs. EPDM (although they're almost the same price), then add the time you've already spent to the relining quote.-cover all exposed areas of any liner w. gravel, sod, plants .
  5. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    If it is the plastic pool liner, they don't last very long
    I had a buddy that did a DIY pond with one of those. It seems a racoon or something went to drink out of the pond and slipped in and punctured and sliced it in the first week.
    He thought he would save money on the liner and it just cost him because he had to do it over.

    let the water go down until it stops leaking and you will know the level of the puncture. I have heard of people taking milk and an eye dropper and you can watch where the milk goes and find the leak. I've never tried it, sounds like a pain
  6. n2h20

    n2h20 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 503

    so far it has been a pain in the A**.. i have let the water drain and still cant find any leak or hole or anything. The customer suggested using milk as well. MAybe i will have him try it this week.

    Does anybody know what to use to patch those liners?

    JSCAPES you suggested using PVC glue? the same type for the pipes or is there some other PVC glue? Do you just spread it over the hole or use a patch and the use the glue to adhere???

    Thanks for you responses....
  7. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    I feel your pain. Don't you hate it when the phone rings and you hear them on the other end and your thinking to yourself, I am losing my a$$ on this and all over a simple pump replacement.
    I guess you have to grit your teeth and carry on.
    You'll need to find out what exactly the liner is made of for the right answer to this.
    On EPDM rubber I use simple rubber cement and have had great results. It is all about the preperation though. You have to take your time and make sure the surfaces are clean and buffed. I use laquir thinner to clean the liner with. The part that is most difficult is waiting for the cement to dry, I always want to put it on right away.

    Good luck
  8. n2h20

    n2h20 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 503

    so it turns out that this liner only had a 5 year warranty... its been 5 years.
    So its brittle and beginning to break down. Some how... ( i can only assume) when i put the pump back in it landed on a brittle part and cracked the liner,,, not tor or ripped but cracked.. like plastic sheeting that has been left in the sun for a summer...
    So i have made several attempts to repair this liner.. nothing is sticking to it.. I finally used JB weld and that seems to have worked.. i put some silicone and a patch over the JB,, we will see next week. I still dont what to tell him as far as some sort of payment...
  9. genesgreen

    genesgreen LawnSite Member
    Posts: 39

    This is exactly why I will never use a plastic liner again for my own ponds. I've used all kinds and all it takes is one leak to mess everything up. With the rocks and what not that isn't hard to do. I prefer concrete for ponds that can't hold the water naturally.
  10. Jscapes

    Jscapes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 10

    So it's been years since I stopped using PVC. I couldn't find the glue that's for patching & seaming, but I'm sure anyone who sells it will know what to use. Try to use products from the liner manufacturer if you are concerned about warranty issues. Other than glueing pieces of PVC over problem areas, liquid neoprene & liquid EPDM work pretty well. Scrap pieces should always go under rocks, waterfalls, big roots, and over anything sharp under the liner.
    Use fiber underlayment in rocky soils. It seems your customer knows a little too much. Perhaps the pond was leaking BEFORE he called to replace the pump.
    The dye thing has never worked for me. Most leaks are too small to show up. Drain & dry the pond, tap the liner at any seams, tight curves, and suspect spots and look for places that won't completely dry. Sometimes tapping will cause the leak to squirt-pinpointing the leak. It can be very difficult to stop even a very small leak if it's wet behind the liner. Consider just laying a new liner right over the old one. Done.

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