Installation Tips and Pitfalls with Pond Liners
While the engineering specifications for any size and use of a pond can be determined from multiple reference sources, one thing that can’t be established in advance is how well, or how poorly, the installation of the pond liner will go. It’s an industry commonplace that the vast majority of failures of pond liners are eventually traced to the field installation.
The main area of concern with field installation is the experience and diligence of the crew. There is no engineering or government standard that, every entity agrees upon, for what makes a competent installer. To choose a good installation company for your project is often similar to choosing any contractor in any field. By and large, you have to do the diligence you would apply to any commercial business, by researching the company, the length of time in the business, commercial success – all the ways we choose our vendors in all other fields.
A strict evidence trail should be maintained during installation to show that every field weld was performed and signed off on. Creasing can be an issue, especially with the thicker and stiffer materials such as HDPE – which is the least costly and the most commonly used, but also the heaviest and most cumbersome to drop-ship to the site, and the least able to fold with the contours of land surface. Photographs and specific sign-offs are one way to demonstrate performance here. Overnight installations cause their own problems too, since many materials will shrink with the drop in temperature at night. Either this factor is taken into account, or installations should be securely buried by nightfall.
Having a known crew of course, as with any contractor, is the best way to sleep at night without worrying that your containment pond is springing a leak that may not become obvious until some damage is done. The earth does shift, and failure can happen, but site preparation and tight surface adhesion goes a very long way to holding an installation in place for as long as 20 years. The most common causes of failure are a missed weld, with perhaps a rock penetrating the material as another.
Western Liner has permanent crews on salary, with decades of experience, and so we ourselves have practically never seen a failed installation. Warranty is important of course, with installation of any project, and having a company large enough and established enough to be able to stand by its warranty is important. The warranty should be considered as part of the cost amortization over time when designing a pond liner project.
When it comes to stock-tank water holding, an occasional pinhole leak in liner material will never equal what can be lost through evaporation. But obviously with toxic materials, a leak is not acceptable, which is why Western Liner has pioneered new advanced liner materials over the years to ensure the lowest possible odds of there ever being a leak.
The engineering specification of permeability for example is not by itself the best indication of a good installation – see all the above for some other factors to consider. It’s important to take all the factors into account before writing the full specification for a project, which is what our free consultation is geared to do.
Our products are probably the most puncture-proof and tear-resistant in the industry – but a poor installation can defeat all engineering specifications such as permeability and PSI strength – which is why we use our own installers, and why every project manager should seek the most diligent installation possible.