How to Fix a Leaky Fish Pond

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON: Today’s final stop is in Churchton, Maryland, a tiny town in the backwaters of the Chesapeake Bay.  For years Linda and Art Love’s hobby has been keeping goldfish in ponds.  I don’t know too much about keeping fish, but I’d guess that keeping the water in the pond is pretty key. 


LINDA: Hello Ron, Welcome.

RON HAZELTON: Thank you, thank you so much. Pleasure to be here.

ART: So good of you to come.

LINDA: It’s great of you to come.

RON HAZELTON: I had no idea that the pond that we’re going to replace was this large.

LINDA: No, no, no, the one on the porch. It’s much, much smaller and it’s leaking, and that’s what you’re here to help us with.  Can we take a look absolutely were we just about to feed them. Would you like to? 
RON HAZELTON: Oh, I’d love to. Yeah. How do we do this? Just toss it in.

LINDA: Just toss it in.  Right there about where that pole is, great.

RON HAZELTON: (WHISTLES) Come on guys, come on breakfast. So Linda, this is leaking.

RON HAZELTON: It seems that Linda and Art’s porch pond not only keeps goldfish, it keeps springing a leak.  To get to the root of the problem we’ll need to siphon the water and disassemble the pond.  Once that’s done I can see that the cracks are cause by insufficient support.  When this is full of water it weighs about 500 lbs., all that weight is pressing down on these two braces right here.  It looks like the Love’s not only need a new pond but they’ll need a new frame too.   With our brand new watertight pond we discuss the placement and shape of the new enclosure.  Masking tape helps us visualize how the piece will work best on the porch. 

RON HAZELTON: What do you think?

LINDA: You’re right it really opens up the walkway. 

ART: I think it looks good.

LINDA: That’s great.

RON HAZELTON: Should we go with that? 

ART: Yeah


RON HAZELTON: Now we’ll measure along the tape outline to get the dimensions for our new enclosure. 

LINDA: Forty-eight.
RON HAZELTON: Forty-eight, o.k. guys, let’s cut some wood.  After a quick lesson, Linda cuts up all the two by sixes that make up the base.  We assemble the base making sure that pieces are squared up before screwing them together.  The two by six that we add in the center will give extra support for the five hundred pounds that will be sitting on top. 

LINDA: Dinner is ready.

RON HAZELTON: Well, that sounds great.

ART: Wonderful.

RON HAZELTON: Well, we’ll pick this up tomorrow.  A late start today means an early start in the morning, but what a beautiful one it is.  Art’s walking the dog so Linda and I start with the decking.  With the bottom frame complete, we’re now ready to add a deck on top.  If you can give me a line from there.  Linda uses the circular saw to remove one corner, so that the deck matches the shape of the frame.  Now the reason that I want to construct this, this way is that the old pond, which you remember, cracked right in here because it wasn’t supported. This pond has got two bottoms basically a deep bottom here and a shallow bottom here.  The bottom base that we built will provide support for the deep end, but we’ll still have problems if we don’t support the shallow end.  Eight here.

ART: O.K. what’s the other dimension? 

RON HAZELTON: Uhm, about fourteen.
RON HAZELTON: The solution is to add a small platform to the bottom portion of the base to support the shallow end of the pond.  Well, this completes our base everything is well supported here and here so now we want to start construction of the sidewalls.  Now this will have a deck up here at the top made of half-inch plywood, so we want to account for that.  And we’ll put this up there.  That means that the walls themselves will be sixteen inches.  We build the sides of the pond enclosure in the same way that we would a short wall, with horizontal top and bottom plates and vertical supports or studs in between.  The three-inch wood screw that we’re using can cause quite a bit of resistance.  Once assembled the four side are attached together, creating a very sturdy frame.  O.K., that looks good, o.k.  We cut another piece of three-quarter inch plywood and place it on top of the frame.  The turn the plastic pond upside down and trace the outline onto the plywood deck.  O.K. we want to make sure that we hold the pencil vertical to do this.  To compensate for the width of the pond lip we use a compass to draw a second line about an inch and a half inside the first.  This will allow for the pond lip to rest on the plywood deck for support.  Using a jigsaw, Art cuts the opening while I follow behind screwing short pieces of scrap wood across the cut.  This will support the cut out section keeping it from falling through and possibly pinching the saw blade.  O.K. then slide her into position.

LINDA AND ART: Turn it over.

RON HAZELTON: Well, it’s time for the final fit.  Let’s see how she looks.

LINDA: Perfect

ART: Beautiful

LINDA: Perfect

RON HAZELTON: Very nice.  Well, the framing is done, now it’s time for the aesthetics.  Now Linda had a great idea and that was to cover the sides with this Cedar planking.  Now this is quite thin about a ¼ of an inch thick with a tongue and groove design, on piece fits right into the next.  We’re going to cut this in short lengths and put this on just like this.  So, Art if you wouldn’t mind why don’t you start taking some measurements here.  The adjustable stop on the power miter box is used to cut multiple pieces of the paneling to exactly the same length.  While Linda is cutting Art and I began attaching the cedar strips to the fame using a pneumatic nailer.  Now a hammer and small finish nails would also do the job, but this is so much faster.  Applying the paneling takes only a few minutes and before we know it, Linda is putting up the last few pieces.  With the construction complete, we slide the enclosure into position, fill the pond with water and lay in place some flat stones to cover the top of the enclosure, overhanging the stones to conceal the pond’s plastic lip.  Finally, Art re-installs the pump and filter.  And, o.k. Art why don’t you throw the fountain on there.  That’s very nice.

LINDA: And, here are the homeowners.

RON HAZELTON: Oh my gosh, the new residence.

LINDA: The new residence.

RON HAZELTON: Hey there. Just take em’ like this, just drop them in.

LINDA: Just drop them in and let them out.

RON HAZELTON: They look very happy in there.

LINDA: Not as happy as we are.  Look I have got a place for my hedgehogs and my gnome.

RON HAZELTON: They look tucked right in there they couldn’t look more at home to me. 

LINDA: Nope, very happy.

ART: And it’s not an embarrassment like the old one was.


RON HAZELTON: You know really, if I had room on the motor home I would have one of these.

LINDA: Well, we could try.  Thank you so much it was wonderful to have you in our home. 

RON HAZELTON: Well thank you very much.

ART: We were just delighted to have you.

RON HAZELTON: Thank you for dinner last night too.

LINDA: Oh, our pleasure, our pleasure.

Add a Conversation Piece to Your Deck or Patio in the Form of an Attractive and Non-Leaky Fishpond

Add an unusual water feature to your wooden deck or concrete patio--not the leaky fishpond that may spring to mind, but a small well-constructed "above ground" project in which the weight and configuration of the fishpond liner is properly supported.  Once the foundation is correct, stock it with rocks, plants, and colorful goldfish and let water and conversation flow!

Siphon out the Water and Discard the Leaky Fishpond
Step 1

Siphon out the Water and Discard the Leaky Fishpond

Siphon out the water and disassemble the existing leaky fishpond. Examine the fishpond liner before discarding it to confirm that cracks occurred and were probably caused by insufficient support in the frame for the 500 pounds of water weight.

Select the Best Position for the New Fishpond Liner
Step 2

Select the Best Position for the New Fishpond Liner

Purchase a new, undamaged fishpond liner that suits the location and traffic pattern on the deck. Experiment to find the best position, and then outline the selected "footprint" on the deck with masking tape.

Measure Perimeter Dimensions for the Fishpond Liner
Step 3

Measure Perimeter Dimensions for the Fishpond Liner

Measure along the tape outline to get perimeter dimensions for the combination wooden frame/enclosure that will support the fishpond liner. Building a fishpond frame in the correct size and configuration is crucial to supporting the weight of the water.

Build a Base for the Fishpond Frame from Two-by-Sixes
Step 4

Build a Base for the Fishpond Frame from Two-by-Sixes

Cut two-by-sixes to dimension according to base measurements. Position them to ensure they are square or angled as required before assembling them. An extra support in the center will help support the 500 pound fishpond that will rest on top.

Cut a Plywood Deck for the Fishpond Base
Step 5

Cut a Plywood Deck for the Fishpond Base

Add a plywood deck on top of the completed base, tracing the shape of the frame on the plywood and removing corners as required with a circular saw. The deck should match the shape of the fishpond base.

Construct a Platform to Support the Fishpond's Second Level
Step 6

Construct a Platform to Support the Fishpond's Second Level

Construct a small platform on the deck to support the shallow elevation of the fishpond. The plastic fishpond liner has two levels and, consequently, two bottoms. Stress will crack it if both levels are not properly supported.

Build Sidewalls Using Studs for Additional Fishpond Support
Step 7

Build Sidewalls Using Studs for Additional Fishpond Support

Construct the sidewalls to measure from the first deck to the bottom of the fishpond's lip where a second deck will be installed. Use standard wall construction with horizontal top and bottom plates with studs for strong sidewalls.

Cut a 3/4-Inch Plywood Upper Deck for the Fishpond
Step 8

Cut a 3/4-Inch Plywood Upper Deck for the Fishpond

Shape an upper deck from 3/4-inch plywood. Turn the fishpond upside down, position it, and trace its lip onto the plywood. Draw a second line (the cutting line) inside the first to allow support for the width of the lip.

Cut the Opening in the Fishpond Deck with a Jigsaw
Step 9

Cut the Opening in the Fishpond Deck with a Jigsaw

Cut out the opening with a jigsaw, supporting the cutout with temporary supports to prevent it falling, binding the saw blade, and splintering the edge. Flip the deck and secure it to the frame. Position the pond in the opening.

Finish Construction of the Fishpond with Cedar Planking
Step 10

Finish Construction of the Fishpond with Cedar Planking

Use a power miter box to cut multiple pieces of tongue-in-groove cedar planking to cover the sidewalls. Secure the planks with finish nails. Fill the fishpond, plug in the filter and fountain, and add the fish. Let the conversation flow!