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Thread: How best to clean out gravity flow drain lines in a older pond?

  1. #1
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    How best to clean out gravity flow drain lines in a older pond?

    The flow rate has dropped over time in my 12 year old pond/filter system especially beginning about 3-4 years ago. When my pond was new and for several years after the total flow rate was about 150 gallons a minute. The flowmeters I bought when my pond was new eventually quit working and are expensive($250-$300) and I had three of them to cover my three returns so I did not replace them. About 4 years ago I bought new flowmeters as it seemed like my flow rate was getting slower. I discovered the flow rate had dropped to 85 gallons a minute and currently it is about 75-80 gallons a minute which translates to a turnover rate of about every 1-1/2 to 2 hours. I believe a combination of hard water (lime scale) and organic growth (Bryzoid's, etc) in my pvc plumbing has caused the reduction in flow rate.

    I have some ideas about cleaning out my drain and return lines which I plan to try in th next few weeks. I would like to hear from anyone that has had similar problems and any successful stratagies to put things back in order.
    Disclosure:These opinions are based on my experience and conversations with persons I consider accomplished koi keepers and do not reflect the viewpoint of any organization.

  2. #2
    Jumbo jnorth's Avatar
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    I keep mine clear by blocking the main drain, emptying the settlement chamber and then unblocking the main line. The water comes rushing through the 4" pipe bringing everything that settled in the line with it. Rinse and repeat although I do this with mine every week. My 2" lines are not buried so if I needed to clean them out I could disconnect them and do so. Maybe the brushes on your pumps are just wore out?
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  3. #3
    Nisai creekds's Avatar
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    How about "RotoRooter".

  4. #4
    MCA
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    Honmei MCA's Avatar
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    Ray,

    At Lowes you can get chimney sweep brushes on the end of fiberglass rods. you can also get extension rods that screw on. I would think you can use those in a 4" drain without much risk of breaking/chipping the pipe.

    Of course you can always call a plumber. $$$$$$$$$

  5. #5
    Jumbo 111whalen's Avatar
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    My sump level seems to be about 4 inches down. I'm thinking there are a lot of those worm things (technical) that have invaded the pipes. How do you know that the calcium has built up causing a 25% loss of flow?

  6. #6
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 111whalen View Post
    My sump level seems to be about 4 inches down. I'm thinking there are a lot of those worm things (technical) that have invaded the pipes. How do you know that the calcium has built up causing a 25% loss of flow?
    Hi Mark,

    I can see and feel a fairly thick coating of gunk (technical term) on the ends of the pvc runs that are accessible. it seems to be made up of a matrix of lime scale, bryzoids, and little hard crunchy casings left over from fresh water insects and worms.

    I have talked to the rotorooter folks and they want almost $1000 for their process however they don't think it will clean the pipes to their original condition. It is made more to remove large clogs and tree roots etc. They can run a video camera thru the pipes for another $500 before and after the process so we can see the effect but I don't need this extra expense as I will be able to easily tell if it worked based on the flow rates. THere is a hourly rate and this equipment is used to clean out sewers so i can imagine how nasty it would be.

    Even more expensive a a new sewer cleaning device using high pressure jets mounted on a small device that includes a video camera that allows the operator to jet away and gunk encountered. this cost about twice as much as the roto rooter method.

    I am thinking of pulling a device called a pig thru the pipes they are made according to pipe size. You attach a rope to a small object and let the water flow suck it thru the pipe. the Pig has a steel bolt that runs thru it with eyes on both ends to attach a rope on both ends. THis way you can pull the pig through the pipe back and forth to scrub the interior walls. I would use a smaller pig (3in) first to scrub off the thicker places and then go to the larger 4 in version. I would do the same thing on my 2 in skimmer lines and return lines using a 1-1/2 in first then the 2 inch.

    Then I plan to pour in a mixture of muriatic acid while isolating each line to prevent any significant leaking into the pond. I have a deep filter pit so I can drain everything into the pit to keep it out of the pond. If necessary and can run the pigs thru the pipes after the acid treatment if needed.

    Any suggestions of better methods are appreciated.

  7. #7
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    I cannot imagine that I have a settlement problem as I only observe clear water without any significant settlement when I purge my line during water changes and dumping the settlement tanks.

  8. #8
    Daihonmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayJordan View Post
    I cannot imagine that I have a settlement problem as I only observe clear water without any significant settlement when I purge my line during water changes and dumping the settlement tanks.

    Hi Ray, check out my response to mark W on the thread entitled special post over on NI. The T works wonders and even with clear water from drain to sump, this method will 'pull out' The slurry that is no doubt filling a good portion of your drains. Best, JR

  9. #9
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    Hi Ray, check out my response to mark W on the thread entitled special post over on NI. The T works wonders and even with clear water from drain to sump, this method will 'pull out' The slurry that is no doubt filling a good portion of your drains. Best, JR
    I will insert a T with another valve into the bottom of my drain lines in the filter fit prior to my settlement tanks. It will provide about 30 more inches of drop so would cause a higher discharge flow. I will get the parts I need and get it done it soon and post the results.

    I sure hope I am wrong about the gunk being cemented to the interior walls of my plumbing and the above modification will be able to restore my flow rate to previous levels.

  10. #10
    Oyagoi kingkong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayJordan View Post
    The flow rate has dropped over time in my 12 year old pond/filter system especially beginning about 3-4 years ago. When my pond was new and for several years after the total flow rate was about 150 gallons a minute. The flowmeters I bought when my pond was new eventually quit working and are expensive($250-$300) and I had three of them to cover my three returns so I did not replace them. About 4 years ago I bought new flowmeters as it seemed like my flow rate was getting slower. I discovered the flow rate had dropped to 85 gallons a minute and currently it is about 75-80 gallons a minute which translates to a turnover rate of about every 1-1/2 to 2 hours. I believe a combination of hard water (lime scale) and organic growth (Bryzoid's, etc) in my pvc plumbing has caused the reduction in flow rate.

    I have some ideas about cleaning out my drain and return lines which I plan to try in th next few weeks. I would like to hear from anyone that has had similar problems and any successful stratagies to put things back in order.
    What size PVC? Can you isolate the pipe?

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