Fluval Canister leak after power outage

Drewbacca

I have a planted 55 gallon freshwater aquarium with a Fluval C4 and Fluval 407 filters on it. I've had the 407 for 2 years and have been very happy with it. I have it on full power with a spray bar extending the length of the tank with the spouts pointing downward and toward the back glass in order to reduce surface disruption since I'm injecting CO2 via a pH controller. I've very diligent with my aquarium and filter upkeep and have programed all suggested maintenance into a schedule on the Aquarimate app for my iPhone. This even includes suggested maintenance that Fluval mentions but most aquarists say is unnecessary. Anyway, yesterday morning the power went out at my house. I was about to leave and took a good look at the aquarium before I left when I fed the fish/snails. About an hour later, my wife texted me that there was a "fish tank emergency." The side of the 407, where the latches fasten, had cracked, and about 45 gallons of water leaked out all over my carpet. Luckily it's located downstairs. I lost one honey gourami who just seemed really stressed out afterwards and was found dead this morning. Anyway, I found an old post on here from a couple years ago asking if this had happened to anyone else, but it has since been closed for commenting. Most of the responses blamed poor upkeep, but I wanted to call attention that this happened to me after doing everything possible to keep the filter running smoothly. Luckily, it's still under the 3 year warranty. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to prevent this from happening again? I suppose it was just a fluke. The only think I can figure is to make the spray bar above the water to reduce resistance, but I really liked having it underwater to reduce the sound as well as surface disruption so that my injected CO2 doesn't just get gassed off. Actually, the end cap in my spray bar shot off when I started the emergency replacement 407 I ran out to get, so I turned the output down slightly so it would stay on.
 

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carsonsgjs

Sorry to hear about your tank. Hope you have managed to get it back up and running again.

i run a 407 with a full length spray bar, and i dont think having it under the water or above the water would be enough to cause the casing to break like that.

my theory is probably a combination of general wear and tear around the clasps, perhaps the lid being slightly loose and when the filter started up again after the power cut it produced a bit of pressure that was released when it switched off, and was enough to break what was left of the plastic around the clasps. You could have weakened the casing being a bit rough putting the lid on or taking it off one time, who knows. Difficult to post-mortem a filter based on a photo but thats my guess!
 
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jtjgg

the hydrodynamics of the output being underwater creates a higher pressure versus being above water. when the power went out the output acts like a siphon, pulling water down towards the canister. when the power comes back on, the canister has to push up against that downward force.

also, a tip i've read before is to drill a 1/4" hole on the intake about 1" below the surface of the water. when you get a leak the siphon will break once the water drops below the hole.
 
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Drewbacca

The filter broke before the power came back on though, not after. I realize it has increased pressure to start up, but that happens every time I shut it down to do cleaning or maintenance. The leak occurred about an hour after the power went out and about 30 minutes before it came back on. I understand why it drained it after it broke. What I can't figure out is what caused the surge in pressure that caused it to crack in the first place. I supposed it had a defect in the plastic that had been gradually weakening.

I'm not sure I can do the hole in the intake, as I have shrimp and fry in the aquarium. I also don't want to divert water intake away from my prefilter sponge, as I use it for further filtering and enhancing the bio load.
 
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GlennO

That’s a bit concerning and it does not appear that you’ve done anything to contribute. I’d send the photo of the motor head to Fluval in case there is an issue with that part of the bracket that needs to be rectified. They need to know because it may not be an isolated incident.
 
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Dechi

How do you open the lid ? I used to do it the wrong way, before I knew better, and I caused a crack near the head of the filter.

I wrote to Fluval and managed to get a new one, but it was all my fault for handling the handles the wrong way.

I suggest you buy a water sensor (like Roost) and pair it with an app on your phone so you get a warning if a leak ever happens again. I have two of them on my 75 gallons.
 
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jtjgg

when you do water changes, the water level in the tank drops and there's only the water pressure from the water that is left in the tubes. when power goes out there's downward pressure from both the intake and output, and you said it was about an hour without power.

after you drill the hole in the intake, you can place a piece of screen or foam/sponge filter over it to keep the shrimp and fry out.
 
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Drewbacca

I also have a question about using the warranty via Fluval. Fluval filters have a 3 year warranty. Obviously, I couldn't just let the fish sit in the tank without a filter on it while waiting for a replacement to be shipped to me. Fluval is closed on the weekend anyways. I have a Fluval C4 HOB filter, but it's not really sufficient for that tank and the bio load in it. Regardless, Fluval is now saying that they'll only replace the motor head, not the entire filter. I had to run out to PetSmart (I actually had to drive to 3 different stores) and buy another one on Easter Sunday. I'm not sure what Fluval wants me to do with just a motor head. Had I known they were only going to replace the part, I would have only used the motor head from the new filter so I could return it all to PetSmart, but that's no longer an option. Has anyone else had success in getting something like this handled in the past? They're saying they don't do refunds either.
when you do water changes, the water level in the tank drops and there's only the water pressure from the water that is left in the tubes. when power goes out there's downward pressure from both the intake and output, and you said it was about an hour without power.

after you drill the hole in the intake, you can place a piece of screen or foam/sponge filter over it to keep the shrimp and fry out.
One more question about drilling the hole in the intake. Since I have shrimp in the tank, I like to use the prefilter sponges as a good way to add more filtration and feeding surface area for my critters. A hole in the intake would likely have less resistance than the prefilter sponge, so would that make the sponge part of the intake less efficient? Would my water intake start more from the top of the water column than the bottom? Or am I overthinking it and the filter should still bring in most of the water from the bottom of the intake?
 
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Dechi

I'm not sure what Fluval wants me to do with just a motor head. Had I known they were only going to replace the part, I would have only used the motor head from the new filter so I could return it all to PetSmart, but that's no longer an option.

If only the head is the problem, Fluval won’t give you the whole filter.

Now that you have two complete filters, I would just sell one of them. The market is crazy right now and you should be able to recover most of your money.
 
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Drewbacca

If only the head is the problem, Fluval won’t give you the whole filter.

Now that you have two complete filters, I would just sell one of them. The market is crazy right now and you should be able to recover most of your money.
Right, I figure that's the likely outcome of that, but I can't imagine what they expect someone to do if the entire top of the filter needs replacement while the warranty process is ongoing. I always have two filters on there for a temporary back-up, but I didn't want to rely on a C4 alone in a fully stocked 55 gallon. Yes, things may have been ok, but I didn't want to take that chance. In the future, I suppose I'd just take the top off of the new filter and use that, then put the replacement one in there and return it all to PetSmart, but I'm not sure PetSmart would appreciate that very much. Really the only part that is not new is the basin that everything sits in. I kept all the baskets, the impeller and ceramic shaft, and media from the old filter in there to keep my bacteria going as much as possible. I doubt I can clean it well enough to repackage it all and return it back to the store though. I'm not sure I'd want to do that to another fish owner who thinks they're getting everything new.

All that said, I realize filter failures and leaks are part of the process for everyone who's run an aquarium for a decent amount of time. It just sucks to feel protected by a warranty that doesn't really specify that it only covers partial replacement, only to find out it's pretty useless.
 
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carsonsgjs

Right, I figure that's the likely outcome of that, but I can't imagine what they expect someone to do if the entire top of the filter needs replacement while the warranty process is ongoing. I always have two filters on there for a temporary back-up, but I didn't want to rely on a C4 alone in a fully stocked 55 gallon. Yes, things may have been ok, but I didn't want to take that chance. In the future, I suppose I'd just take the top off of the new filter and use that, then put the replacement one in there and return it all to PetSmart, but I'm not sure PetSmart would appreciate that very much. Really the only part that is not new is the basin that everything sits in. I kept all the baskets, the impeller and ceramic shaft, and media from the old filter in there to keep my bacteria going as much as possible. I doubt I can clean it well enough to repackage it all and return it back to the store though. I'm not sure I'd want to do that to another fish owner who thinks they're getting everything new.

All that said, I realize filter failures and leaks are part of the process for everyone who's run an aquarium for a decent amount of time. It just sucks to feel protected by a warranty that doesn't really specify that it only covers partial replacement, only to find out it's pretty useless.
Its lucky you have and run that second filter really. Whilst it may not be sufficient, it will at least help keep things going. I have all sorts of spare filters stashed away that can be used in emergencies (fingers crossed they arent needed).

in terms of the warranty, think of a car warranty - if the gearbox broke on your new car, you would just get a new gearbox installed by the manufacturer and not a whole new car. Same principle applies here - the plastic on the motor head broke, so you get a new motor head as theres nothing wrong with the rest of the filter. I do get your point about what to do in the interim though. They will no doubt exclude themselves from liability for resulting damage following leaks etc.
 
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Drewbacca

Its lucky you have and run that second filter really. Whilst it may not be sufficient, it will at least help keep things going. I have all sorts of spare filters stashed away that can be used in emergencies (fingers crossed they arent needed).

in terms of the warranty, think of a car warranty - if the gearbox broke on your new car, you would just get a new gearbox installed by the manufacturer and not a whole new car. Same principle applies here - the plastic on the motor head broke, so you get a new motor head as theres nothing wrong with the rest of the filter. I do get your point about what to do in the interim though. They will no doubt exclude themselves from liability for resulting damage following leaks etc.
Right, but in a car, things aren't going to die while the gearbox is out, and there are repair shops that can replace it. There are usually other means of getting yourself around while you wait for it to be repaired. You don't contact Honda and have them send the parts. There's no place you can go to just get a single aquarium filter part replaced, at least not that I know of. I'm likely on the losing end of this battle, but hopefully escalating it up the line will get it fully replaced. If not, I post this for those it hasn't happened to yet so they can be aware of what they need to do. I can't imagine PetSmart willingly accepting people buying a filter, waiting for a single replacement part from Fluval, then letting people return the new filter with the replacement part substituted.
 
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Dechi

Right, I figure that's the likely outcome of that, but I can't imagine what they expect someone to do if the entire top of the filter needs replacement while the warranty process is ongoing.

I’m not sure I completely understand your problem with the filter but in my case, Fluval sent me the complete head of the filter, including impeller and all. So yes, they do honor the warranty.
 
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jtjgg

A hole in the intake would likely have less resistance than the prefilter sponge, so would that make the sponge part of the intake less efficient? Would my water intake start more from the top of the water column than the bottom? Or am I overthinking it and the filter should still bring in most of the water from the bottom of the intake?

the hole is small enough to not significantly reduce the suction at the bottom of the intake tube.

i have heard that if the hole is too small there have been instances where it would not break the siphon.
 
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Drewbacca

I’m not sure I completely understand your problem with the filter but in my case, Fluval sent me the complete head of the filter, including impeller and all. So yes, they do honor the warranty.
The plastic holding the side clasps broke and the entire seal of the filter came undone. What I’m saying is that they can’t possibly expect you to go without a filter for the weeks it would take for them to mail the single part. Replacing the filter is urgent or the fish could die. You can’t just go out and buy a single part. So, they should replace the entire filter. I’m out $300 to buy a new one and over $100 to clean my carpet ant dehumidify my family room after 50 gallons of fish water dumped on it.
 
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Dechi

The plastic holding the side clasps broke and the entire seal of the filter came undone. What I’m saying is that they can’t possibly expect you to go without a filter for the weeks it would take for them to mail the single part. Replacing the filter is urgent or the fish could die. You can’t just go out and buy a single part. So, they should replace the entire filter.

I do sympathize with your situation a lot but I don’t agree with what you are saying. As fish
keepers, we should all a back-up plan in case of an emergency. It can be any old filter or cheap filter. Furthermore, I don’t think any manufacturer will send you a whole filter to replace a broken piece. I sure wouldn’t do it if it was my business.

Also, every single piece of Fluval filters is available for sale separately. Every single one. You could buy them all separately and build a new filter entirely. That’s what makes Fluval a good choice, among other qualities.

Last, I have a feeling you might have handled the clasps the wrong way, which caused it to break. The same thing happened to me. I couldn’t figure out how to open the canister and a piece broke. Fulval sent me a new head within 5-6 days.

If you think it’s the case, make sure to watch a how-to video to not repeat the same mistake, or the handles will break again. I can find it for you if you want.

Hang in there, stuff happens but then after that the sun shines !
 
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Drewbacca

I do sympathize with your situation a lot but I don’t agree with what you are saying. As fish
keepers, we should all a back-up plan in case of an emergency. It can be any old filter or cheap filter. Furthermore, I don’t think any manufacturer will send you a whole filter to replace a broken piece. I sure wouldn’t do it if it was my business.

Also, every single piece of Fluval filters is available for sale separately. Every single one. You could buy them all separately and build a new filter entirely. That’s what makes Fluval a good choice, among other qualities.

Last, I have a feeling you might have handled the clasps the wrong way, which caused it to break. The same thing happened to me. I couldn’t figure out how to open the canister and a piece broke. Fulval sent me a new head within 5-6 days.

If you think it’s the case, make sure to watch a how-to video to not repeat the same mistake, or the handles will break again. I can find it for you if you want.

Hang in there, stuff happens but then after that the sun shines !
I do keep a backup with the HOB filter, and it likely could have been ok for a short while. The problem was that the warranty wording wasn’t very clear, it was a holiday weekend, and I only had a couple hours to go out and get a replacement filter. I’d also just added some new honey gourami to the aquarium and didn’t want to lose access to a majority of my biofiltration immediately after adding new fish. I didn’t know how long the warranty process would take, and I didn’t want to wait a possible 2-3 weeks for me to have to send my parts back then wait on the replacement. It also never even crossed my mind that a small appliance warranty wouldn’t cover the entire thing. I’ve not seen warranties on something this small not cover total replacement or refund. Replacing parts due to wear is one thing but the way this broke it looks like there must have been a weakness in the plastic somehow. I’m not sure what you mean about handling the clasp incorrectly as there’s not really more than one way to do it.

Agree or not, now I know more about Fluval’s warranties and shared this experience so that others wouldn’t make any of the same mistakes. It was kind of a chaotic situation and decisions were made very hastily as we tried to keep the water damage to a medium. Lucky me... it happened when I was out working and my mother in law was the one who discovered it. Ideally, I would have either replaced the part quickly in the mail with Fluval (had I been more clear on their policy), or possibly bought a new filter, only used the broken part, then replaced the new part into the PetSmart box and returned it. That still feels a little shady though.

I’d love to hear contingency plans others have to reduce the risk of this happening again. I’ve seen the suggestion of drilling a hole 1-2 inches below the water level of the intake and covering it with netting or something. Any other tips?
 
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Dechi

I’d love to hear contingency plans others have to reduce the risk of this happening again.

As I said, my contingency plan against water spillage is having 2 water detectors near my tank : one behind the cabinet and one inside the cabinet, near my filter. I have Roost, which works with an app and you get alarms on your phone and/or tablet if there is water.

There is no way to prevent every possible way there could be a leak so I’d rather rely on my water detectors, on top of doing my maintenance, just like you do.
 
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