How to Build Your Own Pond Vacuum
By Ron Boedeker
This is a continuous flow system that is easily adaptable to a variety of different situations.
We can easily modify the diameter and/or the length of any part of the suction or discharge lines to meet varying needs.
To use it, we simply hook the hoses up, fill the priming pot/leaf trap with water, stick the brush end in the water, turn the pump on and we are ready to go. Because it’s a continuous flow design; there are no wet/dry style reservoirs to constantly have to empty.
The heart of this system is a ½ hp utility pump with a strong self-priming capability. If the pump does not say that it’s self-primping (most lower end pumps are not), it will not have a good enough suction to start the water flowing or to vacuum the heavier debris up from the pond bottom.
The leaf trap strainer basket catches the big stuff and the small mucky stuff is flushed thru the pump and out to drain. If there is a lot of debris on the bottom, the basket will need to be emptied when the water flow slows down.
I like to install a short piece of clear plastic pipe in the suction/intake line. This allows me to see how much muck is coming up thru the piping and when it clears up.
On the end of the vacuum wand, I normally use a brush from a wet/dry vacuum, but you can use anything that works for your situation. Sometimes a crevice tool or a large mesh screen will work better. The large ¼” mesh screen ballooned out at the end will help keep small fish & amphibians from getting sucked in, but it will have to be cleaned off frequently.
For ponds with just loose muck & dirt on the bottom, a 1 inch diameter suction line will work well. For pond with small rocks, gravel, thick mats of plant material, algae, leaves or pine needles, a larger 1 ½ or even a 2” suction line might be needed. Once the larger debris is removed, you can go back to the lighter, easier to handle 1” line.
For the discharge/waste line, you can use about anything from garden hose to cheap drainage hose to flexible or solid PVC pipe. Just keep in mind that the less restriction there is on the discharge, the more water your pump will flow. I like to use 1 ¼ or 1 ½” diameter sump pump discharge hose from Home Depot or Lowes for larger ponds and ¾” garden hose for small ponds.
This system costs about as much to build as some commercial systems, but because it’s a continuous flow system and scalable, it’s easier to use and more versatile in adapting to different pond situations.
A small 4 or 6 outlet plugin strip makes a nice off/on switch. I locate mine between the pump plug and the extension cord.
Remember that this system must have ground fault protection (GFCI), as should all electrical devices used around water.