How to clean a pond pump

Pond pumps need regular cleaning and maintenance because of the dirty job they have to do. Even new pumps can clog up and stop and working if they suck in too much algae and debris. If your pump stops working the first thing to do is access, check and clean the impeller. Here’s how:

1. Switch off the pump

Switch off the pump at the mains and to be extra safe and sure, unplug it. If the pump was powering a UV clarifier turn that off too.

2. Take the pump out

Remove the pump from the pond by the hose, not the cable. For large ponds attach a cord to the pump to help retrieve it from the middle in the future.

3. Remove the pump cage

Unclip or unscrew the cage. If there is a sponge or other filter media inside, remove that too. Some pump cages require a screwdriver.

4. Scrub the cage

Use a brush to scrape off all the dirt, debris and any pond plants or algae that have stuck in the slots in the cage. Plunge the cage in water, use a hose or jet washer to get it looking like new.

5. Clean the sponge

If there is one, clean the dirty pre-filter sponge in a bucket of pond water to remove all the muck. If it doesn’t spring back or has disintegrated it’s time for a new sponge.

6. Open the impeller cover

Unscrew the impeller cover to access the impeller underneath. You may need a screwdriver, depending on the model, but some (like this pump,) unscrew anticlockwise by hand.

7. Access the impeller

The impeller is the only moving part in the pump and it’s what pumps the water when it spins around inside the chamber. When impellers get dirty the pump can stop working, so check and clean it regularly.

8. Remove the impeller

The impeller is held in by a magnet. Carefully pull the cross-shaped impeller and attached cylindrical magnet from the impeller chamber inside the pump.

Careful! The thin white impeller shaft is delicate and could snap.

9. Clean the impeller

Use a small brush to scrub and clean the impeller. Rinse in water until it looks like new. Check the impeller for signs of wear and tear, cracks and damaged blades. Replace the impeller if necessary.

10. Clean the impeller chamber

The chamber and impeller shaft also get dirty so use a small brush to get right inside the chamber, remove any grit, snail shells and dirt, and get it clean and free of debris again.

11. Replace the impeller

Replace the impeller by hand, carefully sliding it back in over the impeller shaft. Magnetism will pop the last bit of the impeller in for you.

12. Re-fit the impeller cover

Don’t forget to replace the impeller cover when putting the pump back together. It helps to keep the impeller in place and spinning correctly on its central axis.

13. Fit the pump cage

Replace the clean cage and pre-filter sponge if there is one. Some pump cages click or clip into place by hand while other use screws to secure them into place.

14. Put pump back in the pond

Your cleaned pump should now be good as new. Place back in the pond, give it a gentle shake to remove any air bubbles, plug it back in and switch it back on.

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Jeremy Gay is an author, lifelong fishkeeper, and aquatic specialist. He's a former editor of Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, UK editor at Reefbuilders, a former aquatic store manager, and has collected fish in Sri Lanka and the Amazon. He's been on tv and radio, contributed to Koi Carp and Gardeners World magazines, been a product tester, a judge, and a product developer. Jeremy is here to guide and advise you on all things tropical, pond and marine, from set-up to stocking, health, feeding to breeding, as well as solving many common fishkeeping problems along the way.

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