The use of a floating or submersible Pond deicer is one of the best ways you can winterize your pond. But what is a pond deicer, why do I need one, how do I use one, and how is it different from a pond heater?
What is a pond de icer ?
As the name implies, a pond de icer is a device used to prevent the buildup of ice in your pond in winter. There are two basic types of deicers. A floating pond deicer will float on the surface of your winter pond and submersible pond de icers sit on the bottom of your pond. Both types keep a small hole free of ice in the surface of your pond to allow the escape of gases that could otherwise sicken or kill your fish.
Why do I need a pond deicer ?
During the summer and fall your pond undergoes many changes. These include the accumulation of leaves, plant matter, fish waste and other debris. These materials sink to the bottom of your pond and begin to decay. Before winter this decay does not pose any danger to your pond as the gasses produced bubble safely to the top of the pond and are released into the atmosphere.
Once pond winter sets in and your pond ices over these gases are trapped in the pond. As the gases from decaying material begin to accumulate they become toxic and can actually sicken or kill your pond fish. A Floating or submersible pond deicer is one of your very best ways to prevent fish kill during the winter pond season. A well placed pond deicer will allow the escape of these toxic gasses and ensure the safety of your fish.
NOTE: some well-intentioned pond owners have reported over the years that they just go out with an axe and smash holes in the pond ice to let out the gases. This is not a very good idea as the impact of an axe or hammer striking the ice will send shock waves that can instantly kill or cause brain damage to your fish!
How do I use a pond deicer ? A pond de-icer generates an electrical current to a heating element inside the de icer. This generates heat which will keep a small hole open in the ice to allow gas exchange. There are several guidelines you should be aware of on the placement and operation of a floating or submersible pond deicer.
1. Use one deicer for a 600 gallon pond. If your pond is larger than 600 gallons you will want to use two deicers tied together.
2. The use of an extension cord will reduce the effectiveness of the deicer. Long cords will reduce the heating capacity and the units ability to maintain temperature. The proper method is to plug the unit into an electrical outlet installed near the edge of your pond. In the real world we know that many of you will decide to use extension cords anyway. I would suggest to you to use the shortest cord possible to reach your outlet. A 12 foot extension cord is going to loose a lot less power than a 50 or 100 foot cord.
3. A floating pond deicer should be placed touching, or as close as possible, to the pond liner in the shallow end of your pond. The pond de icer will warm the liner and reflect back the heat more efficiently.
4. A floating or submersible deicer should be placed in the shallowest section of the pond possible.
5. The floating pond deicer should be blocked from the wind. Cold wind will whip across the surface of the deicer and will steal heat faster than it can make it. You can build a wind barrier to prevent this heat loss. You can even put a sheet of plywood OVER the deicer to prevent the wind from reaching it at all. Be sure not to cover the entire pond as doing so will prevent the needed gas exchange.
6. Floating and submersible pond deicers are designed to turn on when the temperature of the water falls to freezing and to shut off when the water temperature reaches 45 degrees. This internal thermostat saves you mone