Troubleshooting Your Aquascape Pump

Our Aquascape pump experts cover the top 10 things that could be wrong with your pump if its not functioning at full capacity, or simply just won’t turn on. We’ll cover water pump vapor locks, electricity flow, jams, broken seals and more. If you’re having problems with your pond pump, you’ve come to the right place to learn how to fix the issue, or at least exhaust all options before replacing the pump.

Are you having trouble with your pump?

The Aquascape Pro pumps which include the SFA Pro pumps and the Tsurumi pumps, all carry a two year warranty. Warranties are honored through whomever you purchased the pump from. AquaSurge Pumps carry a three year warranty and are high efficient but are for average to low head elevations.

Before you call your service contractor, go through the following steps to make sure the pump doesn’t work!

Do pumps require maintenance?

No, the SFA and Tsurumi pumps do not require any specific maintenance. There are no repairable parts on these pumps. You can only purchase the impeller kit. There are things you can do to ensure a smooth operation, or check for problems. Read on to learn these various methods to keep your aquascape pond pump working smoothly.

Find an Impeller

Replace Your Pump

AquaSurge pumps can use a yearly maintenance.  Watch the video and follow the directions to clean out the cylinder if the pump has lost flow or is over 1 year old.

Is the pump receiving water?

Check your water level and make sure the skimmer has water in it. Your pump will not work if the skimmer box runs dry, this may even make the pump inoperable.

Make sure nothing is blocking the flow of water to the pump. Check for debris in the box or rocks blocking the entrance to the skimmer. Check for a clogged skimmer net or clogged skimmer filter mat. The net and mat can be cleaned often to assist the pump’s efficiency.

Slow flow to the waterfalls could mean that the aquascape pump is still running but you may have a broken check valve.   There is a flapper inside the check valve and if the check valve rattles when shaken, then it probably is broken and this will affect the flow of water and also if the biofalls empties out when the pump is shut down, that also indicates a broken checkvalve.   Checkvalves are sized by the type/brand of skimmer you have.  Click on Checkvalves and look at the check valve pictures. You can replace the checkvalve, just be sure to pick out the appropriate valve for your aquascape pump. Click here to purchase a new aquascape pump checkvalve to replace the broken checkvalve.

Is the pump not working at all but you hear a hum?

The pump may be vapor locked. It simply means that air is trapped in the volute of the pump.  This happens sometimes when the electric goes off and shuts down the pump.  The pumps are designed to push water, not air…so an air bubble gets trapped and the pump becomes vapor locked.

In this situation the impeller is basically spinning, but water is not being pushed. Listen to see if you hear the hum of the pump. A vapor lock can be fixed by tilting the pump to allow the air to escape from the intake. You may even be able to accomplish this without disconnecting the fitting on the end of the check valve.

Does the pond pump have electricity?

Make sure the safety breaker on the ground fault circuit interrupter has not tripped. GFCIs are very sensitive and can sometimes trip during a thunderstorm or a power surge. Reset the breaker if it has tripped and check the line with a hair dryer to make sure it is working.

Diagnose the pump’s problem

Try unplugging your pump and disconnecting the union fitting found at the top of the check valve. The water will back flush from the BIOFALLS back into the skimmer. This will help flush out any possible clogs along the length of the pipe. This can cause a decreased flow to your BIOFALLS. Pull the pump out of the skimmer and inspect the intake on the pump for any lodged debris. Our pumps are capable of handling solids and debris up to a reasonable size, typically 5/8 inches. Debris can become lodged in the impeller and can seize up the impeller or restrict the flow causing the pump to stop operating properly. Thoroughly check the pump intake, including the area above the impeller where small debris, such as gravel may be trapped.

Plug in the pump after inspecting it for debris and see if the impeller spins. You can run the pump out of water for a few seconds. If the impeller does not spin, try to assist it by using a screwdriver or similar tool to give it a little kick start.

On some occasions especially after storing for the winter, the impeller may seize up and not spin. Take the pump out of the water, plug in and try to “kick start” it by turning the impeller with a screw driver.  Hopefully, the pump will then begin to operate. Let it run for 5 to 10 seconds. Unplug the pump, wait a few seconds and plug it back in. The impeller should begin to spin without assistance this time.  You do not want to run it out of the water more than a few seconds.

Aquascape Pump Vape Lock

Pump can be vapor locked.   Pumps that are shut down suddenly can become vapor locked where an air bubble has been formed under the impeller and it will not allow the impeller to turn.   Just rock the pump back and forth and this should release the air bubble.

If you still have no luck, bring the pump over to a different electrical outlet on the property, specifically one that contains a GFCI breaker, and see if the pump operates. This will tell you if the pond’s electrical supply is bad, or if there is something internally wrong with the pump. If the pumps trips this GFCI, then there is definitely something wrong with the pump and it should be replaced. Check out our selection of aquascape pumps, or call us at 877-780-1174 and we’ll get you situated with a new aquascape pump.

Pond Pump Warranties

If your pump is under warranty, you must contact the contractor who installed the pump or the supplier who sold the pump to you. An exchange will be made for your defective pump but only through the original person you bought from.

Proper maintenance of the water feature will also ensure the best possible lifespan of the pump. Please make sure to consider the following:

  • Do not allow the filters to become clogged with debris and sediment. Conduct regular cleaning and seasonal maintenance according to your owners manual. If your filter needs to be replaced, check out our selection of aquascape pump filters.
  • Keeps water flowing freely to the pump by routinely cleaning the skimmer debris net and filter mat. Be sure to maintain proper water level in the water feature. Avoid allowing the pump to run dry or operate in low water level situations.
  • Inspect and remove large debris, such as mulch, sticks, small pebbles, etc. from the bottom of the Skimmer, or Snorkel Vault in a pondless. This will prevent the pump from becoming clogged and possibly damaged.
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