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Butch

Enhancing Your Pond With Faux Stone

By | General Tips

Faux Stone - Click for a closer lookWhen I first heard of faux stone, I pictured those funny plastic rocks you get at a big box store to hide a set of keys under.  Those are great!  I mean what burglar would ever think to look under one of those babies and check for your extra house keys?  They look so real. Not!

Over the years faux stone has gained in popularity as well as realism.  I am surprised by the quality of product one can purchase today.  Take amusement parks for instance.  I know that last time I visited one of those places; I was amazed at how I actually felt like I was in another world.  Those guys are artists.

Now you have these artists opening their own businesses and creating all kinds of realistic stone features that you can stand right in front of and be in sheer awe of the size of the piece.  All the while not even knowing that it probably weighs one tenth of what the real item might weigh.

The other day I was speaking to a faux stone artist and he had me looking at pictures of his creations.  He was interested in sealing them up with Pond Shield Clear epoxy, which would suit him perfectly.  In any event, the structure he made for one of his clients was massive.  It was a complete waterfall that was incorporated right into the coping of the pond.

Faux Stone - Click for a closer lookIn our chat he wanted to know if it might be a good idea to seal the underside of the piece as well as where the water would be on top.  I remarked that I thought it was a little late for that and he told me it wasn’t a problem.  He could just lift the piece off of the pond if he had to.

Simply amazing!  And how convenient!  Consider this.  That particular pond was made with a rubber liner.  When ever the pond develops a leak, all the rock that is incorporated into the pond structure would have to be dismantled.  Think of all of the rock that would be destroyed in the process.

Now with this faux stone structure there instead, a couple of people could remove it easily and render repairs.  The whole process might only take a day instead of the better part of a week.  Not to mention your fish wouldn’t have to be out of the main pond for very long.

Faux Stone - Click for a closer lookClick on any of the images that are embedded in this article for a closer look.  This particular guy definitely has his act together and knows what he is doing.

Pond Maintenance – How To Prepare A Pond For Spring

By | Pond Maintenance

Let’s talk about pond maintenance and preparation for spring.  Some of you might not be ready for this, like up in the North East, but others may already be rolling up their sleeves and girding themselves for the pleasures associated with getting pond things up to snuff.

Well where do you begin?  I would have to say that a cursory look at everything is probably the best way to start.  Take a notebook and pen with you so that you can jot down notes about things that need attention.

I would probably take a peek at all of my plumbing fixtures and make sure something has not developed a leak anywhere.  Sometimes they do and you notice it early on, but being a small issue it might be put off until now.  Take a look at all the fittings that might contain O-rings too.  O-rings tend to dry out over time and can become brittle.  Of course brittle equates to leaks at some point in time.  It is better to know now than when they go out completely and you’re not there to catch it in time.

You might want to give everything a good wipe down too.  Dust and dirt that accumulates on things like pumps can cause issues too.  You want to turn them off and unplug them if you need to use any spray cleaners near them.  Typically though, spray cleaners are usually used on them, but you shouldn’t take chances with electricity.

It’s also a good time to check filters in your air pumps too.  Dust and debris can clog those over time just like the air filter in your car.  Your air pump will run at a lower efficiency rate without a clean filter.  If you have a diaphragm air pump and depending upon the age of the pump itself, you might want to check the diaphragm for wear and tear too.

Make sure your UV lighting is in good working order as well.  It will be irritating later when it starts to warm up and the sun shines all day long and you see a huge bloom of algae in the pond.  The bulbs are moderately priced, so you might consider having an extra one on hand.  Speaking of the bulbs you should always wear gloves when handling them.  The oil from your finger tips can create a hot spot on the bulb which will eventually work towards the bulbs untimely demise.

Untimely demise?  Who talks like that?  I should have said, you will rue the day that a bulb goes out early, but that sentence is probably just as corny.  But I digress.

Check the quality of your water too.  If the pond has remained full, with or without fish, it’s a good idea to know what state the chemistry is in.  This way when your fish do get moved back in you know they are going into a healthy environment.

If you had to drain the pond over the winter, now is a good time to check the entire interior surface out.  Make sure you see no cracks in your concrete or holes in your rubber liner.  Repairing them now will be easier and less costly than after you have filled the pond back up.

If your pond had gone through winter with water in it, you may have to manually clean varying debris out of the water.  This could be anything, from leaves to other solids.  Scoop them out and it will mean less work for the filer itself.

Finally, if you have plants, you should trim them up some.  Make sure all the pots are at the proper levels in the water as well.  A general squaring away of the plant life will make the pond look fresh again too.

Pond Liner Replacement – 5 Tips to Make Replacing a Pond Liner A Breeze

By | Rubber and Plastic Liners

Removing An Old Rubber Pond LinerWell the time has come to look at replacing your pond liner.  It has been in there almost a decade and is really starting to show its age.

You probably have a few patches that you’ve put on it.  Some may have worked, while others only sort of did their job.

So what are you going to do in order to replace this beast without having to break your neck doing it?  Without the right forethought, you might find yourself in the middle of a great big mess.  Certainly you have better things to do with your time.  I know I would!

Ok, let’s evaluate this.  How many fish do you have in your pond?  Do you have a place to put them while you replace your pond liner?  Keep in mind this might take longer than a day to complete.  In fact, you may expect items you need to arrive on time and they might not.

Then you will find yourself storing all of your Koi a lot longer than they should be stored.  This can effect their health so you have to be on your toes.  So let’s talk about storage.

Number one, storing your Koi can be tricky, but as long as you follow some simple rules for doing so, they should survive the temporary time they are in a holding tank.  Aerate the water.  You need to supply them with air.  This is essential!  Filter the water.  This is also essential.  Just because they are in a holding tank does not mean they do not need filtration.

Change a portion of the water regularly to assist in filtration.  Cut down on feeding your fish.  A few days without food will be ok for the fish.  They will survive.  The extra waste they would create in a smaller environment would only serve to over work the filtration system.

If the tank you are holding the fish in is shallow, put a net over it.  This will keep stressed out fish from jumping as well as keep predators out of the water in search of a free meal.

Secondly, take pictures of your pond before you start disassembling anything.  You probably have a lot of rocks and plants all around the pond that give it that natural look.  The last thing you want to do is try and remember what it looked like before.  You know how it goes right?  You take something apart and put it back together again, only to have a handful of extra parts.  That is no fun.

Third, now is the time to evaluate any plumbing issues you might have.  Remember when you first put the pond in?  You got everything done, filled it with water, put your fish in and you saw that one darned pipe!  Yep, that one darned pipe that should have been there instead of here.  Now is the time to do something about that.

You will also want to inspect all of the plumbing for any sort of wear and tear.  It is amazing what freeze/thaw cycles can do to plastic pipes.  Check all of the visible joints and repair if necessary.

Number four, check that underlayment.  You may find that you not only need a new liner, but the underlayment is deteriorated as well.  Since you’re replacing the pond liner, you might as well replace the underlayment too.  Avoid using old carpet as u8nderlayment.  Not only is it not the right product for the job, but it’s messy and unprofessional.

Finally number five, do not shortcut anything.  For instance, the rock that holds the outer edge of the liner in place should be removed so that the new liner can be installed properly.  A task like this is not done all that often, but if you cheat yourself and the pond by shortcutting or skipping steps, you will soon find yourself back out in the yard fixing what you should have done properly in the first place.

Take pride in your work and know that it will be something that you enjoy day to day.  Doing it right now will keep you in that lawn chair longer, instead of toting a shovel later.

I would also advise that you enlist the help of a friend or two.  Any time you need to haul liner material around, it’s always much easier to do with help.  Not to mention friends are just fun to have around.

Got A Crack In Your Pond? – Easy Methods Of Fixing A Crack In Your Pond

By | Concrete Ponds

Over time concrete can crack.  Ground movement, concrete shrinkage, freeze/thaw conditions can all play a part in possible cracks forming in your pond.  The trouble is that when they happen, you have to go out there and fix the problem.

So how do you go about fixing a crack in a pond?  Well that all depends upon the type of crack as well as the size of the crack.  Cracks can be anything from small hairline cracks up to large fissures that go right through the entire structure.

The simplest of cracks is just a hairline crack.  A crack like this can be easily repaired using the right materials.  However, using the wrong materials can easily lead to that hairline crack turning into something far worse.

Far worse simply means more resources to affect the repair.  Cash and time are things everyone wants to avoid dumping into repairs so taking your time to think the situation through is very important.

Let’s say you have a crack.  The first thing you should try and do is determine how bad the structure has been affected.  If it is a hairline crack, it probably does not go through the entire structure, which is good for you.

If the crack goes through the structure you might have your work cut out for you.  In severe cases there isn’t a lot of repair that can be done.  But those instances are pretty rare if the structure was made using all of the proper elements needed for good, sound construction.

There are several types of materials that can be used for repairing concrete, including, more concrete, concrete strengthening additives, bonding agents, rebar, steel mesh, epoxy (like Pond Shield epoxy) and fiberglass.

Most people tend to lean towards applying some sort of rubberized caulk into the crack.  The problem there is that rubberized coatings or caulks do not bond very well to concrete and can peel.

You also end up with a crack repair that continues to move and can eventually fail again.  You really need to shore up the concrete so that it acts just like it was when the crack did not exist.

For hair line cracks, an epoxy like Pond Shield can be used to coat over the crack.  Coating over a crack will give you the most minimal resistance to the crack reappearing.  I suggest that you use a grinder with a cutting wheel to groove the crack and THEN fill it in with Pond Shield.

What you end up with at that repair is essentially a concrete stitch.  The epoxy holds the crack from both facing sides as well as across the top of the crack.  Pond Shield tensile bond strength (that exceeds the internal strength of concrete) combined with its elongation break strength of 9,500 psi will pull and hold the concrete as though it were once piece.

For larger cracks, like those that are a half inch or so wide, you’ll have to consider more drastic measures.  You may find yourself cleaning up the crack quite a bit by actually removing portions of concrete so that you can place new concrete into the affected area.

Concrete StitchIf you cut through rebar or steel mesh, you will have to put new rebar or steel mesh back in.  Rebar and mesh help strengthen concrete as a whole.  If you have to replace pieces of rebar, you can drill into through both sides of the crack at an angle so that you might glue new rebar in place.

After the stitch is in place, you can use concrete to fill in the crack.  You concrete can have fibrous additives in it that will act as a strengthener.  Be sure to use a good bonding agent on concrete before filling it in.  This will aid in the adhesion between the old concrete and the new concrete.

Once the concrete has set up and cured properly, cut the rebar off that is sticking out of the concrete.  Make sure to try and cut it lower than the surface of the concrete.  Then apply your epoxy to seal the rebar and prevent any corrosion.

Because concrete is porous, I recommend that you coat the entire surface that will be submerged in water.  This will keep the water from soaking through the concrete and reaching the rebar beneath where it can corrode there too.

For added strength, you can also apply a strip of fiberglass over the crack as well.  Just apply the strip while the Pond Shield is still wet and saturate it out completely.  Once cured, the complete repair ought to be much stronger than the original concrete was.

Bear in mind that with any coating application you will want to make sure that the concrete has been properly acid etched prior to the repair.

Choosing A Pond Filter – Which Pond Filter Is Right For You?

By | Filtration

There are simply a lot of filter systems available on the market today.  In fact, one could easily get lost in the sea of products.  I think though, that the best way to try and figure out which filter you need, would be to look at the different way water is filtered and then look at the different products that actually do the filtering.

If one were to break down the different types of filtration that is done to water it might look something like this:

  • Biological Filtration – This is the actual bacteria colony that your pond builds in order to consume varying waste products produced by aquatic life.  In essence these bacteria will consume waste and convert it into less harmful waste that aquatic plants will actually thrive on.
  • Mechanical Filtration – This is the process by which large debris is removed from the pond water.  Debris such as large fish waste, leaves, old food and such are all caught and strained from the pond water itself.
  • Chemical Filtration – This is how chemical toxins are removed from the pond water. Pesticides, organic wastes, proteins and the like removed by agents such as carbon or processes like deionization.

So from that stand point it is important to know what the filter you plan to purchase will actually accomplish.  A filter that manages only mechanical filtration for instance, will only handle a portion of the load your pond produces.

Let’s take a look at some of the filtration styles available today.

Nexus FilerNexus Filtration – This type of filtration utilizes either a pump fed or gravity fed water supply from the pond to both mechanically and biologically filter the water.  Essentially the water moves through the first chamber where solids are mechanically removed from the water.

The water then passes to a biological filtration system that uses air to constantly agitate the filter media.  This agitation is an important part of ensuring that the filter media does not clump together.  If the media clumps together, the water will not effectively filter through it.

Once the water moves from the biological filter, it is run through another mechanical filtration section where even smaller particles are removed.  Upon completing this cycle, the water is returned to the pond.

This filter requires weekly maintenance at a minimum and during high feed times will require daily maintenance.

Vortex FilterVortex Filters – Vortex filters look just what they sound like.  They are large, almost conical containers that will rotate the incoming water into a vortex that allows solid matter to settle.  The water is pushed into a second chamber where more settling is allowed to occur.

These two settling actions are the mechanical filtration process.  Depending upon the size of the pond, any number of chambers may actually be needed; sometimes two, three or four chambers.  The water is then sent through a biological filtration process at this time to complete the process.

After the biological stage is complete, a pump is usually used to pull water from the final chamber where it is sent back to the pond.

Vortex filters need regular maintenance about every week.  The maintenance is simple, where valves are opened and solid waste is drained from each chamber.

Bead FilterBead Filters – Bead filters provide a mechanical and biological filter system in one unit.  Water is pumped into the bead filter body where it fills from the bottom up.  Small beads located inside the body of the filter float on top of the water.

As the water passes through the beads, the solid waste is left on the bottom of the bead layer.  Biological filtration takes place within the beads where bacterial colonies will collect and filter the remaining water as it passes through the system.

After passing through the system, the water is returned to the pond.  These filters also require some maintenance.  It is recommended that the solid waste be flushed from the system anywhere from once per week to once per month.

Some bead filters come with an air blower system that is used during the regular maintenance.  The blower forces air into the body of the filter where the air breaks up the beads so that they do not become a solid mass.  Remember, a solid mass is unlikely to filter the water properly

Pressurized FilterPressurized Filters – These filters are generally smaller and more compact in size.  This makes them easy to hide and you can actually bury them almost completely in doing so.  Most people would look at these filters and wonder how something that small can actually filter a pond like any of the larger filters described above.

The answer is in the turbulence placed around the filter media inside that filter that is caused by the pressurized water flow.  More turbulence means more waste (food for the bacteria) and dissolved oxygen gets placed against the filter media.  This is why biological filtration of this sort is so much higher than un-pressurized systems.

It is important to remember that typical pumps do not supply the amount of flow that these filters require and choosing the right pump is essential.  You should also keep in mind that their smaller size means more cleaning during the maintenance cycles.  The more fish you have, the more waste will block the initial filers in this style of filter.

There are some of the types of filters available on the market today.  You should make sure that when you shop for a filter, you give the retailer as much information about your pond as possible.  This way they can help you get set up with the correct filtration for your pond.

Applying A Pond Coating – How To Apply An Epoxy Sealer And Have a Leak Free Pond

By | General Tips

Rubber Window SqueegeeWith so much research being done at this time of year, I thought an article about the application of a coating might be an interesting topic.  If you’re a professional installer that has used epoxies before, then you probably already know a great deal about the application process.

However, if you are a DIY (do it yourselfer), you might not have ever tried applying epoxy before.  No problem, I will cover all of the bases here.  Let’s assume that the concrete is already prepared and ready to go.

What tools do you have?  Some epoxies are pretty thin in nature and all they take to apply is a roller and maybe a paint brush.  But others, that are designed to not only waterproof, but provide a certain amount of strength will generally be thicker in nature.  Pond Shield epoxy, for instance is thick like grease.

Because of this, you probably wear your arm out just rolling the epoxy.  That iss why I prefer to use a rubber window squeegee on the epoxy initially.  Using a squeegee will allow me to control the thickness of the material better than with a roller.  Generally a roller will allow the epoxy to build up.

You do not want the roller to build up or everything will become gooey and sticky.  But with a squeegee, you can adjust how much pressure you apply to the application and this in turn, will make measuring the thickness of the material a lot easier.

I have heard of people trying to apply the coating with a paint brush alone.  The problem with just using a brush is that the bristles offer no resistance to the coating itself and trying to control the thickness will be virtually impossible.

The only time I use a brush to apply epoxy is when I am touching up, cutting in a waterline or working the uneven surface of a waterfall.  I will even use one when I cut in around any plumbing.

The important thing to remember when applying an epoxy for the first time is to read all of the instructions first.  If at that time you do not understand anything about the process, you should ask and clarify.  It is hard to find yourself in the middle of a job and not understand why something is going wrong.

For one thing, if you are irritated, you probably will not be thinking clearly, so solutions will not present themselves as easily as they would any other time.  However, if you read everything and have all of your tools handy, the job can go smoothly and without a hitch.

Getting back to the actual application process, you should remember to only mix what you will actually be able to use within the pot life of the material.  Epoxies are not forgiving when it comes to time.  Epoxies will not care if you have your pond coated or not.

Epoxies will harden up in the container you mixed them in just as easily as they will on your pond.  You are on the clock once you have mixed the epoxy.  Now is not the time to take a lunch break.

I have been on many job sites where the installer watches me demonstrate the application process to them.  The one thing they are all amazed at is the coverage.  More times than any, when I pour the Pond Shield into the pond to work with, I hear them say, “There is no way that is going to go 60 square feet”.

Then I whip out the squeegee and spread the material out.  I squeegee up the walls and along the floor, moving from a corner outwards.  I use the roller to smooth out squeegee marks as I go and test the thickness of the epoxy with the gauge here and there.

If the coating appears too thick, I pull it tighter.  If it is too thin, I pull some back to that area.  What ends up happening is I spend about fifteen minutes pulling and rolling the epoxy and when I am done, the Pond Shield has been applied at 60 square feet.

Now I have also been on job sites where the surface area was so rough that there would be no way to get the coating to cover like that.  In those cases, a decision has to be made that concerns how to properly prepare the surface.  In some cases, the application process itself is changed and we either switch to the rough surface application method or spray the Pond Shield. using the rough surface application method involves thinning the epoxy more than you would if you were to apply it with a squeegee.

It also means applying the coating in two thinner coats to build up to the minimum thickness of 10 mils. Spraying on the other hand, make easy work of a rough surface because you can apply the coating in one single coat (most of the time) with minimal effort.

Once everything is applied you’re done right?  Wrong!  Do not be fooled here.  A good application always ends with a thorough inspection of the coating.  I mean what happens if there was a small void in the concrete somewhere?  Over night, this void could have sucked up some of the epoxy and left a gap.

A gap is a hole in the coating.  No matter how you slice it and hole in the coating is a potential leak.  It doesn’t matter if you have put three coats on Pond Shield or any other product on.  If you miss a spot, you will more than likely experience a leak. You must look at every single square foot of the surface area and correct any flaws found.

So it pays to inspect.  Now I have seen some funky situations before.  I have seen a wooden holding tank appear to be flawless, yet leak like a sieve when it’s filled.  This is an interesting conundrum.  If the coating looks flawless, why and how would it leak?

Does anyone know?  Let’s say the holding tank is 8 feet long by 4 feet high by 4 feet wide.  The water weight of that would be over 7000 pounds!  Let’s say that the corner seams were not properly fastened and structurally, they were weak.

It is very conceivable that when the tank is full, the weight of the water would push the walls outward causing small hairline gaps to form in the seams.  When this happens, the water would leak out until the weight resided and the seams closed again.

This can happen with concrete block walls in a pond too if they are not build properly.  This is why if you have a leak, you need to check the coating AND the structure.  Think about what is taking place when there is water in the pond.

If the water leaks down to a certain point, that is usually an indication of what level the leak is at.  That is where you should start looking and correct the problem.  I cannot stress more that if you have a leak, it will most likely be from something you missed.

A lot of people do not want to hear that.  Either they cannot see the problem or in some cases ego might play a roll.  Unfortunately, it’s difficult to think that the perfect looking job you just did could be caused by something as trivial as a small missed spot.

Hopefully though, you can now be better equipped to install that coating better and know what to look for before it causes you trouble.  I think that being prepared is always a great vantage point to start any project from.

 

Found Santa

Blue Fish Pond Liners – Why Is Blue Fish Pond Liner Such A Good Idea?

By | General Tips

Competition Blue Pond Shield EpoxyPeople have been keeping Koi for some time now. As a matter of fact, Koi were actually used as a food staple by rice farmers at one time. Because the rice fields were shallow, the Koi could be let loose to swim freely until it was time to capture them.

It was not until only a couple of hundred years ago that the inbreeding that was taking place started to produce a variety of colors in Koi. This is when Koi began to be noticed as something one might want to breed and collect.

Soon the uneven blotches of red and white were turned into distinguishable patterns of color. The fish were bred so that the offspring produced would be rich in the patterns sought after.

This led to more and more breeding as the Koi became popular, but one thing stayed the same. These fish were in mud ponds or other type of natural water features where they were hard to see.

As time went on it became apparent to Koi breeders that the color of background used to display Koi was an important factor in what others perceived of the fish. If the background was not right, the new breeds of Koi with blues and yellows and even chromatic looking colors did not look as bright or lively.

Black was one of the most popular colors to display Koi against for a long time. But as new breeds of Koi became available, even black wasn’t going to do for long. You might have a beautiful Komonryu to show that is difficult to see against a black background.

Now hard as I might look and research, I cannot tell you when the first blue background was used. However, I do know why. From what I could find, the blue background actually allows one to view the Koi in whole.

What this means is even some of the Koi breeds that have transparent portions of fins or blue coloring in their bodies can be viewed against a blue background and all of the fish can be seen.

If you have a winner in your pond, blue will make the fish stand out better.  That’s a fact. Have you ever been to a Koi show? When the judges are looking at the Koi, the fish are always in a blue tub of some sort. This way the judges can see everything they need to see.

This is why Pond Armor offers Competition Blue as a color for ponds. Now only is it another color to choose from, but the shade of blue has been mimicked from actual show tanks. So if you are stuck and wondering what color you want to use for your pond, consider blue.

Fish Safe Epoxy – Choosing A Fish Safe Coating For Your Pond

By | General Tips

Fish Safe EpoxySo you are ready to waterproof your new pond.  Maybe it is an existing pond with a small leak.  Either way, in your search for something to seal and waterproof it, you realize that only a few of them are labeled fish safe.  What does it mean to call a coating fish safe?

First let me give you a little information about coatings in general.  It is a common misconception that once a coating is cured, it is safe.  Unknown to most people is that fact that there are some coatings on the market that can leach of toxins into your pond even after they are cured.

Take roof coatings for instance.  Yes they do a mighty fine job of waterproofing a roof.  Because of this one would think that they would do a mighty fine job of waterproofing a pond too, right?  Well they will more than likely waterproof the pond, but what else will they do to the pond?

Oh, and I hate think of what might happen if the coating had not fully cured yet and you put your fish in the pond.  That might be as close to an instant disaster as you can get!  But let’s step back and take a look at the whole picture for a minute.

With all of the waterproofing products on the market today that are pond related, you need to do your homework and make sure that what you use in your pond really is safe.  Your fish certainly cannot tell you that they feel ill and by the time you realize that something is wrong, it may very well be too late.

I had heard a horror story and was unable to verify the truth in it, but I will pass it along as a hypothetical example.  I had heard that there was once a manufacturer of a preformed plastic pond liner.  This manufacturer had made the mistake of using the wrong type of plastic for their product.

Because of this, the plastic leached toxins into the water and would kill fish over a period of time.  Now again, I could never validate the story, but knowing what I know about plastics, I cannot invalidate it either.  But realistically, that does not matter.  What does is my knowledge that you as a pond owner, have become more educated in they way you choose a product.

It is better to be safe than sorry right?  A fish safe epoxy or any other coating should be a coating that is tested to ensure that it is fish safe.  Pond Armor, for instance, tests Pond Shield products for this purpose.  It is done so that when you purchase product, you know it will not harm your fish or plans for that matter.

That is not to say you could drink a gallon of the epoxy or any other coating.  That would be foolish.  But by having it tested and proven, what it does say is that in conjunction with the way the product is applied and used, that by following the instructions you can be assured that your aquatic life will not be harmed.

That is an important thing for a pond owner to know.  So know the product you plan to use to waterproof your pond.  Your fish will be glad you did.

Pond Paint Did You Just Say Pond Paint?

By | General Tips

I am covering my ears right now.  La la la, I cannot hear you!  You can’t possibly be considering putting paint in your new pond could you?  If so, let me let you in on a few things first.

Paint is defined as a substance composed of solid color matter suspended in a liquid medium and applied as a decorative coating to various surfaces.  A decorative coating.  It might look good but what is it doing for your pond?  Does it serve a purpose for anything other than looking pretty?

Those are some pretty important questions to ask because if the coating you apply is just a decorative color and will not at least waterproof you pond, then it becomes useless.  If you want to seal and waterproof your pond or water feature, you need to coat it with a product that is designed for that purpose.

Paint will not do in that scenario.  Most paints, because they are designed for basically colorizing the item that it’s applied to are applied pretty thin.  Usually paints are applied at a thickness of 2 mils or so because that’s all that they need.

Even if you applied the paint any thicker, it would not necessarily mean that the paint would be any stronger.  The coating you choose to water proof your pond or water feature needs to have additives built in that make it strong.

These additives should be designed to produce very specific strength properties as well as specific elongation properties.  Without them, the coating would not be able to stand up to the punishment it might have to endure.

Now sure some paints are designed to protect things like woods, plastic and other materials, but the protection is usually only in a UV deterrent form because the item being protected may deteriorate if UV is allowed to continuously attack it.

In regards to pond paints, you should also not get your materials confused.  For instance, a chemical used to seal an item may only provide protection enough to repel water or moisture, not waterproof against it.  In a lot of cases sealers need to be reapplied regularly in order to keep moisture penetration at a minimum.

But do you see what happens?  “…keep moisture penetration …”  Moisture and water still penetrate to a certain degree.  A waterproofing coating would not allow penetration of any sort.  When it comes to waterproofing a pond or water feature, your goal is to stop this penetration of water which can eventually form a leak.

Paints and coatings are made up of a variety of raw materials.  A lot of them will contain chemicals that are designed to evaporate in order to cause curing to take place.  I bet you didn’t know that when a chemical evaporates out of a coating, that coating shrinks.

It sure does and when it shrinks, the coating becomes susceptible to cracking all by itself.  How waterproof could the coating be then?  Pond Shield epoxy, for instance, is made without the use of chemicals like that.  The curing process is more of a mechanical method in nature and will not shrink after it is applied.

The other thing you need to consider with pond paint or any other paint would be how toxic the material is.  This means knowing what the toxicity is even after the paint has cured.  If the coating you apply is toxic, it may harm your fish.  I have heard horror stories of the wrong coating being used and the death of all stock being the result.

The problem with fish is that they can’t tell you that their environment is making them sick.  Your water may look perfectly fine but you never know what may actually be happening to it.

Finally, you have to consider the lifespan of pond paint.  A typical paint might last 20 years doing the job it was designed to do on the side of your home, but it may not be able to perform properly or for very long in the wrong conditions.

A good example might be co0rrosive effects of the salt content in a salt water holding tank.  Yes, salt is corrosive.  A paint product might not even be designed for use in that manner, but the correct coating will be.

So save yourself the trouble and purchase a quality material that is designed for the purpose of waterproofing as well as housing aquatic and plant life.  In the end, you’ll find that the money you spent was indeed a quality investment for both you and your stock.

How To Use Glazed Tile In Your Pond

By | General Tips

You Can Use Glazed Tile In Your PondThese days, people are just not satisfied with a typical, run of the mill, boring looking pond.  I have seen a wide variety of styles and designs in my time and what I have concluded is that as we progress towards the future, so does the look and feel of the backyard pond.

Backyard ponds are not the only things changing either.  People are now putting ponds directly in their homes too.  In doing so they find that they want to make their pond meld in with its surroundings, as though it was supposed to be there.

One of those ways is to incorporate glazed tile into their motif.  Unfortunately, what usually happens is the glazed tile is put in place and then the water proofing is addressed.  This is a mistake.

The problem with glazed or glass fired tile is the shiny, smooth surface it has.  Coatings just do not stick to this type of surface.  Attempting to do so may initially show signs of success, but any coating will eventually fall off.

What you end up with is the coating bonding to the grouted areas of the surface but popping off of the glazed areas.  This will more than likely happen to all areas that are glazed.  In the end, you will have a raggedy edge of coating that’s left on the glaze that produces quite an unsightly appearance.

I have been asked if just the grout can be coated.  In my opinion, this is not only a labor intensive task, but one due to failure as well because you’ll more than likely get coating on the glazed surface at some points.  When you do, these areas will deteriorate and you will end up with the same unattractive look.

So what is the fix for a scenario like this?  Well if you have already installed your tile, the bad news is there is no cure.  You will have to remove the tile and get the Pond Shield epoxy coating installed first and then reinstall the tile.

This Process Works With Pool Tile TooIf you have not installed your tile yet, then you’re in good shape.  You would simply install the Pond Shield epoxy coating on whatever the tile is being installed on.  Let the coating cure out and inspect it for any missed areas.  Touch up those areas prior to moving forward with the project.

Once the coating has cured, you can sand it with 60-grit sandpaper. This will give the surface of the coating some tooth so that the material you use to attach the tile with sticks to the coating.

Here is where you need to be careful.  Usually tile is attached to a surface using a typical cemtiticious thinset that is essentially a very fine cement powder mixed with water.  Once it is mixed, it has the same sort of properties as mortar but is much more refined like plaster.

The problem is that typical thinset will not adhere to a coating.  Instead you’ll want to set your tile in place with a very sticky, acrylic type of thinset or a polyurethane adhesive.  These materials are stickier than normal Thinset.  Combined with the tooth you just gave the coating, either of these materials will bond the tile to the coating.

Once this is done, grout the tile as you normally would and you will be in business.  The final product places the waterproof barrier behind the tile, while allowing the tile to still be bonded in place, giving you a new design aspect for your pond.

Just think of the possibilities.  If you take a look at the wedding cake styled fountain in the pictures gallery, you will see the process actually taking place.  In this scenario, the installer was constructing a wedding cake fountain from pre-cast concrete wedges.

The wedges were then assembled and coated with Pond Shield epoxy.  The surface was abraded and the black glass tile set in place with the acrylic thinset.  The whole process only took the installer a few days and the finished fountain has become the center piece of the shopping area where it is located.

How Long Before You Can Put Fish In Your Pond?

By | Water Quality

Alright!  Your new pond is up and running.  You checked for leaks.  None apparent.  Your new pump is chucking along, water is running through your filer and the UV is send algae spore the way of the Do-Do.  Now all you have to do is add some fish.

Whoa!  Hold it right there partner!  This is a critical point in the next phase of your pond.  What you do next might spell absolute success or just as easily spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R.  Yep, disaster.  You want to add a bunch of fish, but I will tell you right now, be patient.

Let’s walk through the needs of your pond right now.  Yes, you have a filter in place, but what is it doing?  For the moment, pretty much nothing but passing water back into your pond.  It’s missing one essential thing.  Bacteria.  You filter needs a bacteria colony that will break down the fish waste.

Ok, so how do you get a bacteria colony in there?  Some people say that you can add water from another pond into yours as sort of a starter bacteria colony.  This is a bad idea for a couple of reasons.

First, the bacteria that might be in the water you collected are not likely to survive the trip to your pond.  They are fragile to a certain extent.  So what you end up dumping into your water could be nothing more than someone else’s dirty water.  Speaking of dirty water, what if that friend of yours does not know he water has some sort of parasite in it?

You read that correctly!  Now you have effectively transferred that parasite to your water where it will wait for your fish.  With as many nasty Koi diseases and parasites out there today, transferring water like that is just not a safe bet.

The best way to create a bacteria colony is to start small.  Get one fish.  Let that fish eat and produce waste in a quantity that the bacteria can actually handle.  The colony will grow pretty quickly, but at this early stage, you do not want to over load it.

So you start with one fish.  Now keep a log of when the fish was added and head out to the local pond shop and get yourself a good water test kit.  The kit should include at least the following:

  • Ammonia Test
  • Nitrite Test
  • Nitrate Test
  • Ph Test

The first thing that will start to be affected in your pond will be the ammonia content of the water.  Ammonia is produced after the fish eats as well as when he exhales.  If the levels grow too large, the fish can be poisoned an ultimately die.  So test the water regularly for the next week and log your results in your log book.

You will notice the level of ammonia increase during this time.  Your job will be to keep this level as close to zero as possible.  However, because you are also trying to build a bacteria colony, this may not be an easy task.  If you do water changes during this time, keep them minimal so as to not flush too much bacteria away too.

You can use an ammonia blocker for the time being.  The ammonia blockers serve to encapsulate the ammonia molecules so that they are less effective against the fish.  They usually do not hinder the bacteria growing process though.

What you are going to notice over time will be the ammonia spike dropping and eventually reading zero.  Typically what will happen next is the nitrite levels will rise at this point.  This is because new bacteria will emerge and start eating the waste produced by the bacteria that ate the ammonia.

You will also notice algae spikes as well.  Do not worry about these because as the pond cycles, the algae will go away as well.  After the pond has gone through a complete cycle and all levels (except Ph) read zero, you’ll be able to gradually add more fish.

It is not recommended that you add a whole bunch of fish at one time or you risk the possibility of an ammonia spike again.  This would throw your water chemistry off again and you’d have to fight the pond until you got it under control.  The whole cycling process usually takes about a month or so to complete.  Be patient and your pond will reward you.

Patching a Pond Liner

By | Rubber and Plastic Liners

Ok, so you have a hole in your pond liner now.  That is just what you needed, something else to fix.  Not to mention, the hole is probably somewhere near the bottom of the liner.  And why should it not be?  It is a conspiracy you know.

Of course it is not a conspiracy.  But sometimes situations like this sure do feel like it, right?  Ok let’s get started and fix that leak.  Do you have fish in your pond?  If you do, you may have to remove them and put them in a holding tank while repairs are being made.

Housing your fish can be done in a variety of ways.  You can use anything from simple plastic tubs if the fish are small enough, but if they are larger, you will have to put them in something that can handle their size.  You might consider a small child’s pool to do the job.

The repair should not take too long so you should be able to house the fish in water that you have aerated.  Just drop an air stone in the water and maybe a net over the pool in case you have any jumpers.

You will have to expose the liner so that you can dry it in the area that needs repair work.  You might think that pulling that section of liner out of the water will do the trick, but that is a bad idea.  In doing so, you may inadvertently allow the soil underneath the liner to slip in its place which will cause a bump later.  The bump will look like a deformed shallow spot in your pond.

The best way is to drain the water down to expose the leak.  The liner is most likely going to have muck and algae on it which will have to be scrubbed off.  Use a small bristle brush to scrub the algae off and make the area nice and clean.

The area to be cleaned should extend several inches around the actual leak itself.  Once you have cleaned it, the repairs can begin.  You will need a primer used for activating the effected area.  You will also need the glue used for attaching the patch and the patch material itself.  A small brush for the primer and glue can be used as well as a small roller.

Have a couple of small blocks and a C-clamp handy for the job too.  You may or may not need them and I will explain that in a minute.  Assess the damage now.  Is the leak a rip?  A puncture? Is the liner wore through?

Each of these are essentially repaired the same way, but the preparation might be a little different.  For instance, a tear or rip would normally look like a slice in the pond liner.  A patch can easily be placed over this, where a puncture would have a dimple that might need to be cut out to ensure the repaired area is flat.

A worn area would need to have any deteriorated material cut away so that fresh or as close to fresh liner is what you are attaching the patch to.  With that said, prep the area and get it primed.  Make sure the patch material is cut slightly bigger than the area to be repaired.

Do you remember fix a bicycle tire when you were a kid?  You pull that inner tube out, scratch the damaged area up with that little metal scraper and pour copious amounts of glue all over everything and throw a patch on it.  Hopefully you read the directions to the patch kit.

Each patch kit should come with directions and you should read the prior to rendering the repair, just in case they include a step I have not covered here.  Now that you have the area cleaned and primed, apply the glue.  Make sure to extend the glue out a little further than the patch material will be.  Usually the glue needs to dry just a bit before the patch is applied.

Once the glue has dried, put the patch material in place, firmly press the material onto the liner to ensure a good seal.  Remember those blocks I talked about?  If you have the ability to fold the liner in order to sandwich the liner and patch area between the blocks do so.  Use the C-clamp to squeeze the patch to the liner and hold it there while it cures.

It is important to do that only if your liner allows you to.  If now, set the liner down and place a heavy object over it while the patch dries.  Just be sure that the blocks or heavy object you use does not have any sharp edges that will cause you more problems.

Typically, these patches are set up in about 6 hours.  At that point you should be able to fill the pond back up and acclimate your fish back into their original home.

How to Fix a Leaky Fountain

By | Fountains, How To

3 Tiered FountainIt is time to run a hose through that old fountain you have sitting in your yard.  The darned thing has not been fired up since… When was it?  Was it last season?  Hmmm, maybe it was the season before.  Bah!  Who cares?  It’s time to fire it up and bask in its beauty!

Now that you have got the fountain full of water, it is time to pull out the lawn furniture, something to drink and…  Uh oh!  The fountain is leaking!  Grumbling as you drag the lawn furniture back inside and put the lemonade away, you realize you have no idea how you are going to fix this pesky leak in your fountain.

Not to worry.  Fixing a leak in a fountain is just as easy as fixing a leak in any other water feature.  First you have to determine where the leak is.  Most yard fountains are made up of several preformed, concrete tiers and a visual inspection of the fountain should tell you that pretty quickly.

Cracks can form in concrete fountains if left out during the cold winter months.  This usually happens when water that has been left in the fountain was allowed to freeze causing the concrete to expand past its capacity.

Start at the top tier and look at the underside of it.  Does the concrete look damp?  Are there any visible signs of cracking in the concrete?  Inspect each tier and see if any of these conditions exist.  Just because you find one culprit doesn’t mean there isn’t another.  Inspect the whole fountain for these same conditions.

Let’s assume for a minute that you did not find anything with that cursory inspection.  Tiered fountains are usually constructed by stacking these preformed concrete basins on top of one another.  Then in the center of them there might be a hole that travels the standing length for which the electrical wiring can run.

If this is the case and you have not found any indications of a leak, then the problem may be at the base of one of these tiers where the next tier sits upon the first.  If you remove a tier from the top of another tier, you’ll usually find a rubber type of cork that has a hole in the middle.

The wiring runs through the hole and when the top tier is in place it sandwiches the rubber between the two tiers making a water tight seal.  Check to see if that rubber cork has deteriorated.  Check each tier’s rubber cork as well.  If any are damaged, replace them and check for leaks again.

With that said, it’s probably not a bad idea to check these from time to time anyway.  However, if you had found these to be in good shape and the problem was a crack in one of the tiers then you are going to have to correct that issue.

Fixing a crack in concrete is not a big deal.  With a few simple tools, you can have a simple repair done in a couple of hours.  Evaluate the crack and try to determine of it needs to be ground out.  By grinding the crack out, you allow the repair material to bond to each facing side of the crack which will in essence, act as a permanent stitch in the concrete.

I usually use a small 4 inch angle grinder with a concrete cutting wheel attached.  Wear gloves, safety glasses (maybe even a safety face shield and possibly a dust mask when repairing concrete.  Small bits of stone will fly through the air and you do not want to injure and eye or even your face.

Cut into the crack and make a slight groove.  For hairline cracks, the groove only needs to be about ¼ inch deep.  Follow the crack as far as it goes.  Once the crack has been grooved, use air to blow out any debris from the crack.

At this point, you can use Pond Shield epoxy to stitch the crack back together.  Mix a small amount of Pond Shield and over thin it so that it has a more watery consistency. Then brush that into the crack and allow the concrete to wick up the mixture. After that mixture has started to set up, mix the appropriate amount and use a putty knife to press the coating into place.  Once the coating begins to set up, use a small roller to coat the entire inside surface of the tier.

To make things uniform, coat each tier and any areas that will be submerged by water.  Once complete check, for leaks and touch up as necessary.  Your leaky fountain will now be leak free and a lot better looking too!

The Pond Shield coating will also make things easier for you to clean.  If your fountain collects any muck or algae, simply wipe it clean with a terry cloth rag.

Building a Wooden Pond or Tank

By | Wood Ponds

I have seen people build wooden pond and holding tanks that looked great, only to see them leak like a sieve. For those of you that do not know what a sieve is, it is a meshed kitchen instrument used for straining liquids. You get the picture.

Wooden Pond Diagram

Click the Image to Enlarge

Usually the construction method starts out sound and with very good intent, but quickly goes awry from there. Generally speaking, most failures start with the outside of the wooden pond or tank rather than the inside. People tend to forget how much one gallon of water weighs. Do you know?

8.34 pounds! That is how much one gallon of fresh water weighs. Salt water tends to weigh more. That is not to say that the small amount of salt you have in your fresh water pond will add up to much though, because you are using so little of it to begin with.

So all of this water will add up in weight that is applied to the walls of the pond or tank. For instance, a simple holding tank that measures 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall will have about 7,989 pounds of water in it. Consider this, at 4 inches of depth, the weight is 479 pounds.

Now 479 pounds may not sound too bad, but think of the stress that small amount of water puts on the tanks along the floor/wall seams. If the floor bows, those seams can split and will definitely leak. Imagine it at capacity, 7,989 pounds! This is why I said most of the troubles usually start on the outside of the pond or tank.

Consider any reinforcing structure for a minute. To keep that floor from bowing, you’d have to reinforce it much like the upstairs floor of a home or apartment is reinforced. I say much like only because in a floor of a building, it is possible to allow for flexibility, where with a pond or tank, the flexibility has to be reduced to almost nonexistent.

The same can be said for the walls. As more water is put into the pond or tank, the walls will want to bow outwards without proper reinforcement. This will cause leaks in both the floor/wall seams as well as the wall/wall seams. Now let’s take a look at how to overcome this.

When I said that the reinforcement should be much like the reinforcement found in an upstairs floor or apartment, I wanted you to picture those beams that run under the floor. For almost any living quarters, those beams are usually set at either 12 or 16 inch intervals.

With a pond or holding tank, those beams should be much closer. Usually 3 to 4 inches apart will do the trick. Remember, the reason why you need them closer is so that the wood does not bow under the weight of the water. Take a look at the image in this article and you’ll see what I mean. If you click the image, you can download a larger version for closer inspection.

In this scenario, 3/4 inch plywood is used for the walls. You can use 1 inch if you’d like, but be sure to choose an outdoor grade of plywood. Outdoor grades of plywood have a more water resistant glue that binds the veneer layers which will come in handy should water get on them. Construct your basic box from the sheets of plywood using screws, not nails.

Once the box is built, you will need to cut 2x4s to run the length and width as well as under the bottom of the box. It’s not a good idea to plan to just sit the box on flat concrete floor because you will end up with no way of cleaning up and spilled water or anything like that. So plan to rib the bottom of the floor and set the unit on the ribs at least.

Now the 2x4s will be placed onto the walls standing on edge rather than lying flat. This is where the rib strength will come from. Start at either the bottom or the top and be sure to end flush at the opposing edge by either adjust the last rib or adding a rib to accommodate. It is important to make sure the edges have very good structural integrity. Make sure that the ribs overlap one another at the ends of the box and screw them together there.

If you plan to have drains or any incoming pipe coming into the pond or tank, those holes should be cut out prior to placing ribs near those locations and the placement should take into account keeping the ribs in their prescribed locations. Use a hole saw to cut these out and plan to use bulkhead fittings where the pipe will come through the box. Bulkhead fittings will make the transition not only look better but be virtually leak free in the end.

You will notice form the diagram that concrete board is being used on the inside of the tank. This concrete board is also known as hardy board. The reason it is being used is because if the plywood ever delaminates for any reason, the coating applied to the inside will fail too. This is not to mention the over-all strength that the concrete board will also provide.
So you glue the concrete board in place and then seal it with Pond Shield epoxy. Use fiberglass strips on the seams to provide extra strength. Once all is done, the pond or tank can be filled up. This design certainly can be modified to accommodate additional tanks being added in line too. Happy building!

Salt Water Corrosion Effects on Concrete

By | Concrete Ponds

Corroded ConcreteDid you know salt water was corrosive?  It is.  In fact it is a problem that engineers have been faced with for some time in regards to larger concrete structures like sea walls.  Of course sea walls are corroded by much more than salt, such as sand and gravel kicked up and splashed against the concrete.

Salt water itself contains magnesium chloride, sulfate ions and hydrogen carbonation ions that will essentially attack concrete to a certain degree, but what really starts to corrode in a concrete structure is any of the steel substructure within.

Concrete contains an alkaline environment that provides some protection against corrosion. The steel inside the concrete that is used for reinforcement will react with the concrete and form film that protects the steel.

This is where salt water works against that process.  The chloride and sulfate ions will weaken that film as the water soaks into the concrete.  Once the film is breached, then the corrosion process begins to work on the steel itself.

Have you ever seen rust stains coming out of concrete?  Usually these stains appear around a small fissure or crack.  The fissure or crack would have been the most likely place for the salt water to enter.

Because concrete is a type of porous material, oxygen and humidity can be present at the point the salt water has come into contact with the film.  This is when the corrosion process of the steel will begin.  This is also the point where things can go bad.

Now granted, this is not an over night process.  Generally this process is gradual, but environmental conditions can accelerate the process.  Building a holding tank for saltwater aquaria risks this sort of corrosion if not properly protected.

Going back to the steel in the concrete, this being wire mesh of rebar, this normally just a simple carbon steel.  When carbon steel corrodes, it expands.  Have you ever found something old that’s made of steel that has become all rusty?  You recognize the item, but it’s usually a lot bigger than it was when it was new.

The problem with the steel inside your concrete tank is that as it expands, forces will be applied to the concrete structure that causes it to crack.  This in turn, leads to more of the corrosion process to begin.  At some point, if not cared for, the concrete will totally fail.

As I said earlier, corrosion of this sort will surely destroy concrete over time unless it is properly protected.  You need a barrier between the concrete and the salt water that will stop water, chlorides and oxygen from reaching the inner working of the structure.

Pond Shield epoxy has been formulated to do just that.  It has been tested in a variety of corrosive environments, including salt water to ensure that it is capable of performing this important task of protecting the concrete.

Choosing a Concrete Sealer

By | Concrete Ponds

There are many types of concrete pond sealers on the market today and the biggest problem for anyone looking for one is to know how to find the best product suited for the project at hand. You can search the internet and find a huge variety of sealers, but you have to ask yourself a few questions first.

  • Which one is right for your application?
  • How do you know what to ask the sales representative when you have questions?
  • Will the coating harm my fish?
  • How long is the sealer supposed to last?

Well follow along and I will try to help you with choosing the right sealer.

The first thing most people should realize about pond sealers is that there are big differences between products that claim to be a sealer and those that actually are sealers, and by that I mean something that waterproofs. Typical concrete sealers are just a way to keep water from soaking in. They are sometimes oil based and usually have to be re-applied each year.

Knowing whether the coating is non toxic or not is very important when choosing a sealer because you need to make sure the sealer is safe for fish and plants if you plan to house aquatic life. There are many pond sealers on the market today that will seal a pond up just fine but can be deadly to aquatic life even after the sealer has cured. You certainly do not want to loose your stock.

Next you need to think from an engineering stand point. Because there are so many different sealers out there, the actual properties of the sealer you choose can mean success or failure of your project. A few things you might want to keep in mind are tensile bond strength, elongation break strength as well as the quantity of solids that the actual sealer is made up of.

Did you know that certain types of solvents in a sealer are listed as volatile organic compounds (VOC)? VOCs are not only harmful to the environment, but they can also harm your aquatic life.

The tensile bond strength of the sealer you choose should be strong enough to not peel later. A peeling sealer will only cause you more problems later when you have to repair the problem. Pond Shield epoxy, for instance, has a tensile bond strength that exceeds the internal strength of concrete, meaning it is not going to peel or flake off of a properly prepared surface.

Elongation break strength is closely related to the flexibility of the sealer. Elongation is the material’s ability to stretch before breaking. The break strength is how much force must be applied before the sealer breaks.

Everyone knows concrete can crack, so the trick is to find a sealer that will resist mimicking any cracks that may want to form. This will ensure that after the sealer has cured, hairline cracks that can form do not transfer through to the coating.

Going back to tensile strength, this is where most rubberized coating can have issues. The movement is too much for the coating to bear as it stretches causing the tensile strength the fail, later causing a peeling issue. Sometimes this looks like a bubble in the sealer.

Finally, there is the amount of solids that the sealer contains. This is very important. The reason is because a sealer that does not contain 100% solids in its makeup will then contain solvents and such instead. Remember, I referred to these as VOCs.

The problem with a pond sealer that contains solvents is two-fold. First, solvents might actually be toxic to aquatic life. Remember, just because a sealer is cured, does not mean it is not leeching off toxins into the water.

Pond Shield epoxy is tested for toxicity is both its cured and uncured state to ensure that it will not harm aquatic life. Finally, pond sealers that contain solvents are also prone to shrinking during their curing process. What happens is the solvent evaporates out of the sealer and the over-all body of the sealer shrinks and a crack may form.

So pick a sealer that actually waterproofs, has no VOCs and is non toxic to the aquatic life you plan to house.

 

 

How Concrete Works

By | Concrete Ponds

Roman ColoseumWe come in contact with it every day in some shape or form. It has touched the lives of the human race since 5600 BC when ancient Serbians used it to construct huts. A thousand years ago, the pyramids of Shaanxi were constructed with a form of concrete. Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and Romans all had their own forms of concrete.

That is until, at one point in history, the recipe for concrete was lost to mankind for some 13 centuries. Did you know that it was only just rediscovered in 1756? That’s right. Up until then it was lost!

It is all around us and for what we take as nothing more than just another one of life’s everyday occurrences, it is pretty special. Concrete is used for bridges, buildings, dams, roads, furniture and yes, even our favorite, ponds.

Now that concrete is the center of your attention again, do you ever wonder how it works?

Bah! Maybe not, but that is ok. I will give you a brief description of the inner workings of concrete anyway and with any luck, and if you’re actually planning a pond project, you’ll be better armed to make those concrete decisions about your pond. Please excuse the pun.

Basically concrete is a mixture of cement, aggregate and sand. Cement is made from limestone and calcium sulfates which in essence becomes a binder for the whole mess. Sand is used as a filler and the aggregate is used for strength.

When water is added, it is used to start the curing process, which is also known as the hydration process. This curing of the cement in the mixture is required before the concrete acquires its final strength. During this time, the environment should be controlled to allow this hydration process to take place. This can best be accomplished by keeping the concrete moist for the duration of the hydration process. In doing so, the risk of cracking will be minimized.

Different chemical admixtures also play apart in how concrete works. Typical admixtures are,

  • Accelerators
  • Retarding agents
  • Plasticizers
  • Corrosion inhibitors

All of which will affect the outcome of the final product. A speedier curing process, a stronger concrete or a more flexible concrete are just some of the results these additives will produce.

Now it is best to attempt to pour all of the concrete for a single structure in a single pour. This is because once the concrete cures, it is unlikely that the bond between a new pour and an old pour will be even close in strength as a completely poured unit. On the other hand, if the need is there to put the concrete down in multiple pours, then a very good bonding agent should be used to assist in connecting them together. Keep in mind though, that even with the binding agents, these joints will still be weaker than a solid piece of concrete.

Fixing an Epoxy Blush

By | General Tips

Epoxy BlushAn epoxy blush can happen from time to time and you will know it when you see it. Basically, your epoxy finish will look milky white or in cases of the darker colors have a grayish color to the surface.

This can happen because of one of two reasons. Either the epoxy hardener was not mixed with the resin properly or the curing process took place during a time in which the dew point closely matched the outside temperature.

The later scenario usually happens during colder temperatures and as nightfall approaches. You should make sure that your new coating has at least a six hour window of consistent temperature to cure in.

To protect against condensation, you should apply your coating during a time such that condensation will not accumulate on the surface of the coating until it has completely cured.  The curing process can also be aided by placing a tarp over the coated area while the epoxy cures.

When mixing, you also need to make sure you scrape the sides of the mix container you are using and mix the epoxy thoroughly.  This will ensure that the hardener is mixed into the resin thoroughly.  Be sure that you only mix 2 parts of component A with 1 part of component B.  A complete kit (quart and half, gallon and half, three gallon) comes pre-measured already.

If you have a case of epoxy blush, do not fret! It is pretty simple to fix. In most cases simply rubbing the area with a rag with lacquer thinner or acetone on it will clear the blemish right up. In worst case scenarios you may have to scuff the area with a green scotch-brite pad to remove the fogginess and then apply new, thin coat over the affected area.

Pond Shield Application Temperature

By | General Tips

Pond Shield will cure if applied at above 50° F. Considering that, you should keep in mind that because Pond Shield has been designed thick in order to hang properly on vertical and upside-down surfaces, it can seem a lot thicker when it is cold. The application process can be a lot easier if you store your kits inside at room temperature for 24 hours before taking them out to the project site. So the 50° F temperature is not necessarily a must, but would make things a little easier.  Normally, the coating cures out in about 24 hours and is ready for use, however, if the nighttime temperature dips below 50° F, then it may cure out a little slower.  In cases like that, the coating may take 30 or so hours to cure, but it will cure.

If you find that the Part component of your kits has solidified, simply replace the cap and submerge the kit in a bucket of hot tap water for 30 minutes.  Allow the coating to cool down for at least 30 minutes prior to application and the coating will be back to its normal state.

Properly mixing your epoxy will also make it easier to apply too. Pond Shield clear can be stick-mixed where the pigmented versions should always be mixed with a jiffy mixer attached to a drill. Mixing with a jiffy mixer will change the viscosity of cold epoxy and make it easier to apply. Pond Shield sets up in about an hour at 72° F. Lower application temperatures will retard this process some, giving you longer pot life, whereas hotter temperatures shorten the pot life.

Care should be taken at any temperature not to over mix the coating. Stick to the instructions and you should not have any problems. You can also store Pond Shield inside at room temperature just as you would during colder applications. Epoxy that has been stored outside in the sun at 85° F for instance will have a shorter pot life because the epoxy may already be heated up. As a rule of thumb, make sure you only mix the amount you know you can apply within an hour or less.

Removing the White Safety Ring from the Can

By | General Tips

Pond Shield is packaged in a manner that the kit contents will not spill out during shipping or handling. The white safety rings are pressed on in our manufacturing plant and can be difficult to remove.

One method of removing them is to use pliers to grab the lower edge of the ring and pry upwards. Apply this maneuver about every 1/4 inch around the can’s lid. The white ring will usually pop right off with this motion, but if you still have difficulty, you can then pry the remainder up with a small flat blade screwdriver.

Grip Side of Ring with Pliers
  Grip Ring with Pliers
Pull Ring up from Can
  Pull up from Can

You can discard the white ring after removal and simply tamp down the can’s lid to store any extra Pond Shield you may have left over. Pond Shield has a very long shelf life. You can find a best if used by date on the kit. It is best to have applied it by then.

Once you pour the hardener in with the resin and mix it for use, there  materials will return to their natural state and the Pond Shield can be used as it was when purchased. For the longest possible storage life, store your kits in a cool dry place with the lids securely tamped down.