Video: How to clean a Laguna Max-Flo pump in your backyard pond

Video: How to clean a Laguna Max-Flo pump in your backyard pond thumbnail
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An article plus instructional video for backyard pond owners and duck parents showing you exactly how to disassemble and clean a Laguna MAX-FLO waterfall & filter pump. 

In previous articles, we’ve provided the following information:

Pippa Luckinbill (one of our ducks), Cid and Nancy (two of our fish), and a pile of fall leaves. Our two Laguna pond pumps have a lot to keep up with.

Pippa Luckinbill (one of our ducks), Cid and Nancy (two of our fish), and a pile of fall leaves in our backyard DIY duck pond. Our two Laguna pond pumps have a lot to keep up with.

A new question about decreased waterfall flow volume in pond

Recently, a duck parent who used our DIY pond instructions to build their own backyard pond messaged us about a problem they’re having. Their waterfall slowed down to a trickle and they weren’t sure what to do to fix it…

Were they going to have to snake their plumbing lines? Take apart their filter pond? 

Short answer: no. 

Since we’ve had our backyard duck pond up and running for quite a few years, we’ve learned how to troubleshoot lots of issues, including quickly troubleshooting a decrease in water flow volume from our waterfalls and MAX-FLO pump.

Not coincidentally, for us, this problem usually happens when either:

  1. our ducks are molting and dropping tons of feathers in the pond;
  2. lots of leaves are falling into our pond in the fall. 
Don't let these cute Welsh Harlequin ducks fool you... When they're molting their feathers, they can be brutal on a pond pump.

Don’t let these cute Welsh Harlequin ducks fool you… When they’re molting their feathers, they can be brutal on a pond pump.

Troubleshooting your pond water flow problems 

Here’s our response to the person’s inquiry:

Was water flow ok initially and now it has slowed down? Or has it been a problem from Day 1? If it’s a problem that developed over time, that’s something we experience from time to time as well, especially in the fall when piles of leaves fall in the pond. What happens is the impeller gets clogged up with debris. This is very easy to fix once you get the hang of it.

You have to:

1. Unplug the pump from its power source and disconnect the pump from the pond plumbing.

2. Clean off any debris clinging to the outside of the pump on the pump cage.

3. Un-clip the pump cage, then clean the pump cage, plus the outside of the pump housing and impeller.

4. Unscrew the impeller cover so you can pull the impeller out to give it a quick cleaning. Be VERY careful not to lose your screws or drop them into the pond during this step – make sure you’re doing this outside of the pond on the ground, not over your pond or right on the edge. 

5. Reassemble pump parts, connect pump back to pond plumbing, and plug it back in to power source. 

If it’s a small clog/small decrease in water volume, you can also just unplug the pump and wait for the reverse flow of the water out of your filter pond to (hopefully) dislodge any material clogging the pump cage. That doesn’t work for heavy clogs, but may be a good starting point…

For readers, it’s also important to note the materials you’ll need to clean your MAX-FLO pump:

  • Phillips head
  • flathead screwdriver 
  • hose sprayer 

Laguna MAX-FLO pump parts

Before showing you a video about how to disassemble and clean your Laguna MAX-FLO waterfall & filter pump, we should first show you images of the specific parts of the pump referenced in this article that aren’t so easy to discern in the company’s Installation and Maintenance guide: 

1. Click-fit coupling – This is where your pump connects to your plumbing. There are different variations of click-fit coupling you can use depending on your plumbing setup. However, they all disconnect from the plumbing line the same way: you push in on the buttons (hence “click-fit”), which allows the pump to slide off the plumbing pipe. 

Laguna pond pump click-fit coupling. 

Laguna pond pump click-fit coupling.

2. Pump cage – The plastic cage that keeps leaves and large debris from being sucked into the pump. It has to be removed by undoing the plastic screws (called a “pivot pin fastener”) using a flathead screwdriver.

Laguna pond pump cage

Laguna pond pump cage.

3. Impeller cover – The plastic assembly that covers the actual impeller. It has to be unscrewed using a Phillips head screwdriver. *Be very careful to do this OUTSIDE of your pond so you don’t drop the screws in the pond and lose them! 

Laguna pond pump impeller cover

Laguna pond pump impeller cover.

4. Impeller/impeller shaft – This is the bladed shaft that turns to sucks in water. It needs to be cleaned periodically or whenever it gets clogged with debris which causes it to slow down and suck in less water. Specifically, the two parts you need to clean are: a) the blades (which can get tangled with debris), and b) the impeller well that the impeller sits in (where gunk/algae can build up).

Laguna pond pump impeller

Laguna pond pump impeller and impeller shaft.

Video: How to disassemble and clean a MAX-FLO pond pump 

Now that you know: 1) why and when you might need to clean your MAX-FLO waterfall & filter pump, and 2) what the specific parts of your pump are, it’s time to show you how to clean your Laguna pond pump:  

Hopefully, this video makes it far easier for you to do a pump cleaning than it was for us the first time we had to figure it out on our own!  

Pond maintenance

It might go without saying but we’ll say it anyway: getting your MAX-FLO pond pump pumping at full capacity again doesn’t do much good if you aren’t doing pond maintenance to prevent pump clogs.

For instance, if you have tons of leaves piling up in the bottom of your pond in the fall like we do, you’ll want to get those out with a net or you’ll end up soon having to unclog your pump again. Since we also have fish in our pond, this is a little tricker for us. 

When we do a deep pond cleaning, we start by filling a large cooler and/or buckets with pond water (not tap water). As we’re removing the leaves using our leaf skimmer net, we’ll inevitably also scoop up some of our fish. When we do, we plop them into the filled bucket or cooler. Then when we’re done removing the leaves from the pond, we put the fish back in.

Note that we remove the leaves BEFORE we clean and reassemble our pump so that the pump goes back into a clean pond with no leaves swirling around it. 


Other backyard pond articles you’ll want to read:

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  • Reply
    June 19, 2024 at 9:07 pm

    Thanks for the detailed pictures and descriptions.

    Do you know of these pumps have an internal auto shutoff if they are clogged?

    • Reply
      Susan von Frank
      June 22, 2024 at 9:20 am

      Hi Andrew! Yes, Laguna pumps will shut off when they get clogged.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    Hey Guys! I wanted to reach out and see if you’d be able to help us. I talked my husband into building a natural duck pond, off of one of your other articles. It came out beautifully! However we are having so many issues with the pump getting clogged what seems like every other day with duck feathers. To the point where we are having to take it out of the pond, clean it, wash it out and so forth. Are you guys having the same issue? Are there any recommendations you can make? Should we be putting a cage around the pump in addition to the pumps cage? We’d appreciate any help! My husbands at his tipping point and keeps joking about filling in the pond haha. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 29, 2021 at 3:43 pm

      Ugh, sorry Rebecca. We have 6 ducks in our pond regularly throughout the day. (Not sure how many you have?) I haven’t had to clean our pump in about 3 months, knock on wood. That’s our normal.

      However, when our ducks molt (especially when multiple ducks molt at once and/or fall leaves are also going in the pond), things can get bad fast, and it’s not unheard of for me to have to clean our pond pump every 3-4 days until they’re done losing feathers.

      That said, yes, there are steps you can take to reduce the frequency of pump cleanings. You can put a larger 1/4″ or 1/2″ galvanized wire cage over the pump – you’ll want it to be at least 8″ or so above the pump if possible, not sitting directly against the pump. You’ll also want to be sure any sharp point pieces are not sticking up and out where they could damage a duck flipper.

      Two other thing to be sure of:
      1. When you do remove the pump to clean it, cleaning the outer pump CAGE is just step 1. If you don’t also clean/unclog the impeller and shaft before putting the pump back, you’ll be back in the pond again soon.
      2. Make sure your pump isn’t sitting directly on the bottom of your pond. We have our pump positioned on a rock so it’s ~8+ inches off the pond floor. That way, gravity is not sending every bit of muck and debris directly into the pump.

      Hope this helps and please let us know if you have other questions.

      • Reply
        September 30, 2021 at 12:09 pm

        You are the best! Thank you for the advise!! We have 5 ducks and they all are going through a molting period haha so i’m hoping that’s the issue. I’ll have to try the extra cage as a precaution. Again, thank you so much for the help we truly appreciate it.


        • Aaron von Frank
          September 30, 2021 at 12:46 pm

          Ha! Five molting ducks at once will definitely be tough on a pond pump. Hope the extra wire cage buys you (and your husband) a respite from cleaning your pump so frequently. Thankfully, the feather dropping portion of molting doesn’t last that long.

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