Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pool Plaster,Epoxy,Xypex,Polyurea.....Which is best to seal your new shotcrete pond?

Crazy troweling bottom of pond for a proper smooth surface for sealing 
Pool Plaster,Epoxy,Xypex,Polyurea.....Which is best to seal your new pond? This has been a question for many for decades. Let's look at a few sealing products...let's start with plaster.

Pool plaster is the final coating applied to the shell of a concrete in-ground pool. The layer of plaster is normally 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick. White is most common, but it can be tinted to other colors by using pigmented aggregate. Pool plaster adds a watertight seal and makes the surface of the pool smoother for contact with swimmers than the underlying rough concrete shell. It's also instrumental in creating a pleasing aesthetic appearance. Depending on Pond  Maintenance or pool maintenance, a plaster coat may last up to seven years before re-plastering is required. Not good if you have a lot of Koi and need to drain pond to do crack repairs.

The ingredients of pool plaster mix are a 1-2 ratio of white portland cement with an aggregate that may be marble dust, limestone, or quartz sand. During the mixing process, these ingredients are frequently combined with a liquid acrylic concrete fortifier to increase underwater durability in the immersed conditions of a pool.

The appearance and expected service life of pool plaster can be affected by water chemistry. A low pH acidic condition can etch plaster, creating a rough, pitted surface that degrades faster. High pH, alkaline water causes calcium deposits called scaling to form, eventually discoloring the plaster. High levels of iron, copper or other minerals in the fill water will cause stains, and frequent acid washing due to algae issues deteriorates plaster. Most Koi ponds pH ranges from 7.2 to 8.9 depending on water district you're in. As ponds pH will balance out at 0.5 point plus or minus of tap water pH as a rule. It also depends on alkalinity reserve as to if pH stays stable. How often you do water changes,routine maintenances steps. 
Poorly applied plaster coat
The plaster coat is the sealing coat, but when the concrete cracks, so does the plaster. Algae and the layers of biofilm that naturally grow on the surface of water features have an effect on the plaster coat. This living always evolving surface etches into the plaster coat thus breaking it down, which destroys it over time. 

Proper application  of plaster, clean and tight. 
Many installers use additives like Xypex, which are great. These compounds form crystalline structures that can fill small cracks and voids and “self-seal” as the concrete separates. This works well to a certain point, if the soil isn’t solid/compacted properly enough, has a lot of clay in it, causing it to expand and contract, or is extremely sandy and moves a bit, and in this case hillside movement as seen below and the cracks become unmanageable. In this case it would be best to underpin/pin concrete with rebar to help keep from shifting side to side. A rubberized coating or polyurea would be the better/best choice to allow some flexibility. Other factors that can cause concrete to crack is colder climates the freeze/thaw cycle can/will break concrete up over time, and in areas with a high water table, concrete can be broken up as the ground shifts. In this case Xypex will not do what it is designed to do.

We have been involved with concrete in some form or another for close to 45 years now, starting in the trenches per say at 15. One of the key things when doing shotcrete is the Pumper and the Nozzle Operator I can not emphasize this enough! Most shotcrete projects start early and it can be long day, nonstop depending on yards of mud used. Your pumper is the key in keeping trucks rolling in as one empty rolls out thus keeping the flow of operation going smoothly. If there is too much time in between the concrete in hose can start to clog line thus cause time consuming clearing. One important thing is the pumper needs to understand proper slumps, adding water if needed to keep load at the right mix to nozzle operator. To wet it will not stand up on wall fall down, or too dry which is harder to work with. NOTHING worse than to have a hose clog up and you have to beat with hammers to clear it or remove heavy hose section to clear it.......put a big damper on day! That can be prevented with a good pumper in charge that knows his business.

One trick to stacking up mud on a vertical wall is to use 1" dia chicken wire you will be surprised as to how much this helps. A good nozzle man can lay down a wall of mud just right for the finishers to come in and start to shave and shape wall, with final slick trowel finish. Finish crew is an important part of the sealing process prep. A pitted surface like below is not acceptable in my eyes just takes a few more minutes to slick troweled Vs. a knock down finish which is good for plaster. But when it come to epoxy or Polyurea or even rubberized products it is not.

Epoxy is another form of sealing a pond or fountain as seen below examples. Keep in mind that with most all sealants you need to have a proper surface prep before applying product, so follow directions closely.

This brand of epoxy uses two steps, primer coat first which bonds to most surfaces when prepared properly. Then the final finish coat of epoxy. 

I remember a friend of mine once say....."The battle isn’t concrete versus liner. It should be about structural integrity that will vary depending on the geography and location you are building in and the proper sealing method for the situation"

Polyurea is in by far the best way to go, it might cost more upfront BUT what does it cost in doing crack repairs every few years? This is the smart way to go period. When using polyurea, the structure can be a complete concrete shell, or it can be constructed as a collar with an open center of dirt, or even as a loose-edge pond with no collar. 
All penetrations must be mechanically clamped just as you would with rubber liner. Flanged bottom drains, skimmers and return fittings are all available and are the same products you would use for a rubber liner pond.

In a pond with a concrete collar and a dirt floor, a geotextile fabric is laid down over the dirt portions and attached to the collar and components with polyurea. This fabric is similar to the underlayment used with liner, but much smoother and stronger. Waterfalls can be built successfully with polyurea as well. 

When planning a new pond build with concrete take a few extra steps in researching a pumper and finishing crew as they're not all the same believe me! If you need help feel free to contact us and we can help you plan your pond and connect you with experienced pumper and finish team.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Why You Should Use Distilled Water in Your Wall Fountain or Table Top Water Features

In Office Floor to Ceiling Water Wall
If you have a wall mounted Water Wall or Floor Water Wall or even a tabletop water fountain in your office or home then you may want to use distilled water. Right now you're asking......Why should you use distilled water? 
Water feature such as water fountains and floor fountains as a rule are usually not considered sources of drinking water. Wouldn't be cheaper to use tap water? Besides, what purpose would using distilled water serve?
Main reason we recommend distilled water it can help to keep mineral deposits from developing inside the water features. Mineral deposit scale can develop and form over time thus causing your fountain to look dirty,also make your beautiful fountain ugly. These deposits can also affect the performance of the pump that recirculates the water. Because the pump has to work harder than normal, you may have to replace the pump sooner than you think.
Distilled water is much cleaner than tap or hose water. Using this superior quality water can stop mineral deposits from forming inside water features. Distilled water is free from chemicals and pollutants that are in regular tap water source
Tap water contains hard water deposits, mineral deposits and calcium that are difficult to remove from water feature once they are developing. It’s best to not even use tap water if a distilled alternative is available. 
Distilled water is water than has been treated through a process of distillation. This process removes most of the impurities. Distilling water involves first boiling the water and then condensing the steam into a perfectly clean container. Most of the solids will be left behind. You can find distilled water from the local supermarket or you can invest in a filtration device. Note that not all water filters actually use a comprehensive process of distillation. Some will only clean the water but still leave in various impurities like fluoride, organic compounds and other chemicals.

If your pets occasionally drink from a water feature then this is another reason to use only distilled water. To avoid extra maintenance and to keep your house safer, make sure your water features use pure and distilled water as a source. There are a few products that also help control algae and scale build Fountec and Protec are great products for controlling and preventing both problems. 

Fountec's organic polymers keep fountain and statuary water cleaner, clearer, and algae-free without chlorine and laborious scrubbing. This EPA registered product utilizes a unique control mechanism to kill and inhibit algae without harming the environment. Unaffected by heat, sunlight and evaporation, Fountec also outlasts and outperforms copper, enzyme and quat based products. A small dose of Fountec lasts up to a week or more and is very economical due to its concentrated formula. While we don't recommend your fountain as a drinking source for pets, the fact remains that it is hard to keep pets from drinking from it.
However, as long as the product is used according to directions, it will not harm your pets. As with all chemicals, we recommend that you keep them out of reach of children and pets.

Weekly Fountec use also prevents mosquito landings! Fountec is not only a powerful algaecide and clarifier, it is also a surfactant that breaks water tension. Due to the natural effect of Fountec's polymers on water tension, it is an excellent deterrent for control of mosquitoes, flies, and wasps in fountains, water gardens and birdbaths.


  • Keeps water always clean, clear and algae-free
  • Recommended dosage: one drop per gallon of water per week- very economical
  • Kills and inhibits all types of algae growth in all types of waters
  • Fast acting
  • No chlorine needed

Protec Water Fountain Treatment is powerful, dual-action formula of Protec makes it very easy to maintain the beauty of water statuary surfaces. Protec contains a unique blend of advanced organophosphates for superior protection against both white calcium mineral buildup and metallic stains. Protec will prevent and remove existing mineral deposits and metal stains on all types of fountain and statuary surfaces. This product will also help prevent pump damage due to hard water buildup. Protec treated water is safe for birds, plants, and animals.


  • Safe for all types of fountain surfaces
  • Recommended dosage: one drop per gallon of water per month- very economical
  • Keeps water surfaces continuously clean and looking new
  • Prevents and removes white calcium buildup
  • Protects pump
  • Protec eliminates the need for using distilled water in your fountain - it removes the mineral deposits from tap water

10 Fountain Care Tips:

1. Use water treatment once a week.

This is actually the most important step if you want to keep the water clean and healthy. Using this special treatment can kill off algae, scale and rid the water of mineral deposits. Remember that these microscopic pests can damage your finish.

2. Add water to outdoor water fountains daily or weekly depending on evaporation rate.  

Your fountain cannot function without fresh water. You must maintain the proper water capacity in order to prevent the pump from burning out or suffering other damage. Check the water level daily. Be sure that the surface is always above the pump. A good standard to work from is to keep the water surface an inch below the basin’s rim.

3. Keep the pump clean from debris.

Clean the pump piece regularly and thoroughly. This will prevent all sorts of debris from compromising the performance; from pet dander to dust to airborne pollutants.

4. Replace the water of your outdoor water fountain once a month.

You must replace the water completely once a month in order to protect the fountain from dust and other deposits and impurities. Ignore this step and the fountain may start to smell sour.

5. Clean the outdoor fountain itself once every three months.

This means disassembling the parts and giving careful attention to each piece. The manufacturer’s standard is a full cleaning once every three months. Scrub the inside and the outside but only use cleaning supplies that will be gentle to the finish.

6. Read the manufacturer’s notice for additional maintenance directions.

Not all fountains are created the same and some require special attention.

7. Do not add any foreign substances to outdoor fountains.

Be careful about adding any foreign substances to the fountain water. Foreign substances, harmless to you, could still potentially affect the pump, the finish or even the inner workings of the fountain.

8. Winterize your outdoor water fountains.

In order to avoid cracking, drain your fountain in the winter and take out the pump. Cover the basin with absorbent materials or a fountain cover.

9. Get rid of accumulating trash.

Debris like leaves, branches, mulch and other natural or unnatural materials can affect the performance of the pump. Even organic materials can release bacteria into the water and this will cause some smelly side effects.

10. Do not let water splash indoors.

Try and keep the surface level at just the right place—about an inch from the basin rim. Splashing water from outdoor water fountains can damage some surfaces like wood and tile. In fact, waterfalls and heavy splashing outdoor fountains are not recommended for interiors.

Safety tip for the month....... 

NEVER LET THE FOUNTAIN RUN DRY!! Lack of water will burn out the pump.

Until next time............  Mark "Koiman" Lawson

Monday, July 4, 2016

Pros and Cons of UV Pond Clarifiers

Pros and Cons of UV Pond Filters are they really filters?

Myth One: 
UV sterilizers and Clarifiers  are often being referred to as a “UV pond filter.” 
Myth Two: 
UV sterilizers and Clarifiers lights will kill  ALL algae and microorganisms in the biological cycle. 

Some Facts About UV and Clarifiers

UV or Ultraviolet light has been used for sterilizing drinking water. It has also been used for aquariums and ponds for several years for algae control. 

There are four main basic components of the Clarifiers/Ultraviolet Sterilizer: A germicidal lamp, a quartz sleeve to protect the lamp from the water, a ballast to provide the correct electrical requirements for the lamp, and the housing which holds all of the other parts and the water flows through it.

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the use of 
Clarifiers/Ultraviolet Sterilizer in Water Gardens or Dedicated Koi ponds. One of the concerns is that you will sterilize your pond and kill all of the beneficial bacteria. This is impossible. Not all of the water will pass through the Clarifiers/Ultraviolet Sterilizer in one circulation and there is always going to be beneficial bacteria inside your biological filter and on everything in the pond, including the liner,rocks,and gravel. 

Before adding a UV
4 days after adding UV
What the UV will do, when properly sized for your pond and flow rate, is reduce some bacteria, including harmful bacteria, as well as microscopic organisms that could be harmful to your fish. It will also destroy the single cell algae cells (DNA) thereby killing it very efficiently. This will provide clear water when the turbidity is due to suspended algae. Clarifiers/Ultraviolet Sterilizer provides 100 percent success for achieving clear water from single cell algae in a pond. 

While Clarifiers/Ultraviolet Sterilizer will provide clear water it does not filter the pond water. One concern of using Clarifiers/Ultraviolet Sterilizer in a pond is that some people will look at their perfectly clear pond and think that the water quality must be good for the fish. You can have clear water and still have water that would be detrimental to the fish. Always have good biological filtration along with the support of Clarifiers/Ultraviolet Sterilizer in your pond. You need the biological filter to break down the ammonia given off by the fish and to break down dead organics including the dead algae that is killed by the Clarifiers/ Ultraviolet Sterilizer. If you don’t have enough biological filtration then you may see one algae problem disappear (green water) and another one (filamentous algae) replace it.

What defines a Clarifier Vs. Ultraviolet Sterilizer?  
When shopping for a 
Clarifiers/Ultraviolet Sterilizer you may find some confusing statements. Some companies don’t even call their UVs sterilizers. They call them clarifiers. Company A says that their 25 watt UV is for ponds up to 1200 gallons and company B says that their 25 watt UV is for ponds up to 2300 gallons. What’s the deal? There are actually two reasons for the discrepancy. When a UV is sized as a clarifier it may not provide crystal clear water and a large number of plants are required to assist with the clarity.

Below is a simple chart to help you compare the differences from Ultraviolet Sterilizer to a Clarifier.

Use the clarifier column when the pond is partially in shade and has 50% plant coverage. This will improve water clarity resulting in a natural looking pond.
More then 50% Plant Coverage

No Plant Coverage
If a UV is sized for sterilization then you can have crystal clear water even without plants in the pond, although the plants will certainly make for a healthier pond.

Adding a UV to your pond can provide some real benefits but do your research and get the facts before making your purchase and be sure to include properly sized biological filtration as well. 
If you can maintain a balanced ecosystem through good filtration, plants, water circulation, water changes, and you don't over stock fish or over feed you can achieve clear water. With a natural biological cycle, the excess nutrients are consumed by plants and water changes. 

There are many products out there that our saying this is all you need to have "Naturally Balance Pond" so "Pull The Plug On your UV Light" Over 27 years that we have been in the Pond Business we have found very few of the products that lay claims to be the Only One really work as described or suggested. Most ponds will never be identical, you can build the exact same pond side by side and you will have two different reactions or results!  So before you pull the plug or even purchase a Clarifiers/Ultraviolet Sterilizer do some research and contact local Retailer or Koi club(s), ask the members as to what they found to work for them and why. Compare the information you have gathered and then you will better informed as to which direction you so choose to go.

Until next time...........Happy Ponding from Koiman!


Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Few Pond Tips And Answers For Pond Owner's Question's We Are Asked!-----Part Two

We are contacted @ Koi Depot San Diego and asked almost daily a wide range of questions concerning Pond Trouble Shooting, and other common issues with Ponds. Many answers or solutions are very simple to most of the questions. Below is a list of a few things we are asked majority of the time.

We talked about the first 3 topics in our last posting if you did miss reading the First Part, just click on topic for links below.

This is a short list of some of the most common issues:

3. Why is my pump running but No water flow through system? I can see water movement in leaf trap.                                                                                                                                                                  

Now to answer  questions 4 through 6 of the other questions most asked us....

4. Why do I see water running out my waste line on my multi port 6 way valve? 

5. Why is my Water Garden skimmer not pulling water like it use too and has reduced flow over bio falls?

6. How often should I change my UV bulb? Its still glowing blue at night.

Question Four: Why do I see water running out my waste line on my multi port 6 way valve? 

One question  were asked a lot and we see out in the field is the Multi-port valve that keeps dripping out the waste outlet side of valve. One of the main reasons is the valve is being rotated from filter to backwash and then to rinse.... WITHOUT turning pump OFF first. 

This will cause the gasket to unseat and allow water to seep by thus dripping out waste port. So when you rotate valve turn off pump each time in between rotation from position to position. This should be done on ALL multi port valved filters...... 
eg: "Hayward sand filters,Aqua Ultraviolet Ultima II filters,Waterways brand" are just a few brands.

Good example of spider gasket pulling away.

One more example of spider gasket working loss.

We will be doing a video on the how to replace spider gasket at a later date.

Question FiveWhy is my Water Garden skimmer not pulling water like it use too and has reduced flow over bio falls?

There are many reasons for this to be happening... 

Most everyone pulls the skimmer net out and cleans it regularly either weekly of twice month depend on your debris and leave load. It is also a good idea to clean the pad underneath net at least every other time net is cleaned. Both of these can reduce the flow of water necessary for the pump to maintain a full uninterrupted flow over bio falls. 

The one we find to be overlooked is cleaning the intake screen on the pump itself. We recommend that at least once every 4-6 weeks min that you TURN PUMP OFF FIRST  then reach down and check to see if debris has built up around intake screen of your pump. 

If it seems that there is some debris it might be best to loosen union and remove pump to clear it. Use a small net you can even net out any debris that might be building up by pump, even small rocks sometimes will get in there. Then put it all back together and you should see a much improved flow. 

Question Six: How often should I change my UV bulb? Its still glowing blue at night.?

Just because it is still glowing blue it DOES NOT mean its still working 100%. Each manufacturer recommends different lengths of time depending on what they feel is best for their particular UV. But we find any where between 9-12 months is a good rule of thumb time frame. If you do a water garden yearly clean-out then this might be a good time to change it out. 

Until next time...........Happy Ponding from Koiman!

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Few Pond Tips And Answers For Pond Owner's Question's We Are Asked!

We are contacted @ Koi Depot San Diego and asked almost daily a wide range of questions concerning Pond Trouble Shooting, and other common issues with Ponds. Many answers or solutions are very simple to most of the questions. 

This is a short list of some of the most common issues:

1. Can't prime pump I add water and it runs for a few seconds and stops?
2. Why does my pressurized filter slow down and stop flowing after 2 or 3 days after back washing?
3. Why is my pump running but No water flow through system? I can see water movement in leaf trap.
4. Why do I see water running out my waste line on my multi port 6 way valve? 
5. Why does my Water Garden skimmer not pulling water like it use to and reduced flow over bio falls?
6. How often should I change my UV bulb? Its still glowing blue at night.

By first understanding a few things that you should check will help save time and frustration. Let's start with covering a few of the above questions. We will discuss 1,2,3 in this Blog post today and 4,5,6 in a follow up Blog post in July  .......

Question One: Can't prime pump I add water and it runs for a few seconds and stops?

Tip One:
One of the most important things to check first is to see if O-Ring is on leaf trap lid. Make sure it is on and properly seated. Trying to prime pump with no O-Ring you will be truly frustrated trying to get a won't happen! 

Tip Two:
By applying a little Magic Lube works wonders as well. It will help create a tight seal and help extend the life of O-Ring. I also use it for O-Rings in unions and filters with multi-port valve O-Rings. Don't over use it or by putting a to heavy of a bead either. 

Tip Three:
Also check to make sure all unions are on tight or not cross-threaded on intake side of pump from leaf trap and on intake from pond to leaf trap intake....... any of those will cause you to pull your hair out in trying to prime pump for start up. Also check ball valves (in handle area) and any slide valves or check valves that have unions.

Question Two: Why does my pressurized filter slow down and stop flowing after 2 or 3 days after back washing?

Tip One:
The other issue that occur's is when back washed it would run for maybe 1-2 days and shut down. I hear this all the time to find out if its your filter contents (Media) or not, try these few simple test steps. 
Put valve on recirculate position and observe flow, then switch it to filter position and observe flow. If the flow is the same using either positions then it may be another issue. If its a high flow in recirculate position and then flow drops drastically in filter position then media needs to be cleaned along with laterals. Just clean your media as its plastic in "most" cases and does not need to be replaced.

Tip Two:
Make sure you back wash at least a min of 2 times or cycles once per week. Back wash to rinse then repeat 1- 2 more time depending how dirty it is coming out. If you don't stir up content well it will over time load and clog up mainly in laterals. Weekly back washing is the best line of attack to prevent clogging. Some form of pre-filtering or settling chamber before pump and filter is of course the best way to keep system running full speed.
One of the things I hear most from customers is they were told they would not have to ever clean this filter ...just back wash. Bad information from the retailers that use that as a selling point. Not so as I see more times then none it will be impacted within 1-2 years depend load and back washing habits of pond owners. Remember there are no ponds out there or equipment that DOES NOT NEED service, all ponds,equipment need some form of regular service weekly or every two weeks or even monthly. 

Question Three:  Why is my pump running but No water flow through system? I can see water movement in leaf trap.

Tip One:

One of the first things I look for and check is to see if any ball valves or slides valves are closed on the return side of the pump to filter, or from filter to pond, or from ponds skimmer or bottom drain to pump. Multi port valves on filters check to make sure it on filter notch. Also a forgotten item of service is the leaf trap basket. I have seen those fully impacted and packed full of debris and leaves this will chock down the pump. Also check your bottom drain covers and skimmers as well, this is another main cause for pumps not to pull water and act like there starved for water as they really are. 

Tip Two:

Pump impellers do get clogged with snail shells and even small pebbles that get by strainer basket can close down an impeller. Most are closed vain, thus allow more to clog it it quicker. best way to clean those is to take pump wet end off to expose impeller thus you can use a small wire ( I use metal coat hanger cut down) to ream or run in and out of impeller vains. Then flush with spray nozzle to remove all debris. Reassemble making sure all gaskets and or O-Rings are in place properly. 


We will be discussing these 3 item's in our next Blog post in July and again most of these are very easy to fix.
4. Why do I see water running out my waste line on my multi port 6 way valve? 
5. Why does my Water Garden skimmer not pulling water like it use to and reduced flow over bio falls?
6. How often should I change my UV bulb? Its still glowing blue at night.

Until next time...........Happy Ponding from Koiman!