Fountain Maintenance - The Ultimate Guide to Care for Your Fountain

No matter what type of outdoor fountain you have, it must be maintained and cared for correctly.

Adding an outdoor fountain to your backyard, garden, or patio is a great way to add style and charm to your space. But if you don’t properly care for it, then the beautiful aesthetics and appeal will be lost.

On top of that, failing to care for your fountain can cause health risks in the flowing water that songbirds enjoy to bathe in.

That is why it’s important to perform regular outdoor fountain maintenance. You’ll improve the longevity of your water feature and ensure it is a safe place for your feathered friends to bathe.

In this article, we’ll be going over common questions we have received over the years when it comes to backyard fountain maintenance and the steps you can proactively take to care for your fountain.

First, let’s jump into how to care for the most important piece of your fountain, the pump.

Beautiful outdoor tiered fountain with flowing water

Water Pump Maintenance & Best Practices

Outdoor fountain pumps are subjected to the harsh elements of nature, so it’s important to keep a close eye on the performance of your pump and clean it periodically.

Keep Your Pump Completely Submerged in Water

One of the most important rules to remember when it comes to your pump is to always keep it submerged in water, except when you are cleaning it.

Fountain pumps are specifically made to run underwater and if you let it run dry then you risk drastically shortening its lifespan.

The pump will sound louder with the less water you have in your fountain, so find the right balance where your pump is submerged enough in the water and the outdoor fountain has minimal splashing.

How Do You Use a Fountain Pump in Your Water Feature?

As stated above, you need to have the pump constantly submerged with a consistent level of water in your outdoor fountain.

Take note every day of the water level in your garden fountain. The pump will not cause the water levels to drop, but evaporation will so add water frequently.

Most outdoor water fountains are either electric or solar-powered. If you have an electric outdoor fountain, all you need to do is plug it into a standard electrical outlet and ensure the pump is completely submerged in water.

If you have a solar-powered fountain, then you need to ensure the solar panel is in direct sunlight or the battery-backup has ample power. To learn more about how to operate a solar fountain, check out our troubleshooting guide on solar water fountains.

Solar-powered fountain with calming cascading water

Should I Leave My Fountain on All the Time?

Fountain pumps are specifically designed to run constantly. It is hard on the pump if you constantly turn it on and off every day.

The only times you should turn off the fountain pump is if you are cleaning it or if you are going to be away from it for several days. It is better to turn it off than to risk the water levels getting low and the pump running dry while you are gone.

How Do You Properly Clean the Fountain Pump?

Luckily, fountain pumps require little maintenance, but it is still important to clean your pump when needed.

To clean the pump thoroughly, take it out of the fountain and wipe away any debris or build-up with a cloth. 

Open the cover and wipe down the inside of the pump, as well. Any hard-to-reach areas can be cleaned out with an old toothbrush. 

Pump maintenance only takes a few minutes but it will keep your fountain running smoothly and beautifully for a long time to come.

Protect Your Outdoor Fountain From Algae & White Scale Build-Up

A common problem that fountain owners run into is algae and white scale build-up. Let’s dive into how these show up in your outdoor fountain and what you can do to prevent it.

Algae in an outdoor water fountain

How Do I Keep Algae From Growing in My Outdoor Fountain?

Algae growth is common in fountains if you don’t take the necessary precautions. 

According to Aquatic Environment Consultants, algae is caused by debris, exposure to sunlight, water movement, and temperature. 

Because of this, it is recommended to place your outdoor fountain in an area with amply shade from the sun. Also, make sure to proactively clean your fountain at least once a month with an anti-algae cleaner. There are many types of these cleaners online, or you can also make your own using this guide by hunker.com

Preventing White Scale in Outdoor Fountains

White scale occurs in fountains when there is a lot of calcium or lime build-up in your water. This is typical if you are using hard or tap water that contains a lot of these minerals.

The best way to prevent white scales from building up in your outdoor fountain is to use distilled water only. Distilled water doesn’t contain any of these minerals, which eliminates any chance of white scales.

If you must use hard or tap water, then make sure to use a white scale cleaner or grab some vinegar water and a mild abrasive pad to scrub the area with the deposit build-up.

How To Maintain a Fountain

How Do You Clean an Outdoor Fountain?

The first thing you want to do when cleaning your backyard fountain is to turn it off, remove the pump, and empty any water or decorative rocks that are in the feature.

Next, grab your fountain cleaner and a textured piece of cloth. You don’t want to use any harmful chemicals as these can damage the finish of your fountain.

Then, scrub away any algae, dirt, or debris. Make sure you are reaching the hard to reach spots, especially in the basin of the outdoor fountain.

After you are done scrubbing, thoroughly rinse out the fountain. Ensure all the cleaning solution is rinsed out as you don’t want these chemicals to get in your pump.

How Often Should I Clean My Fountain?

Depending on where you live and where your fountain is placed, you’ll want to regularly clean your fountain to prevent algae from forming and to keep your outdoor fountain water clean

We recommend cleaning your fountain every 1-3 months to maximize the longevity and performance of your outdoor fountain and pump.

Cascading water in an outdoor fountain

What is the Best Type of Water to Use?

As stated before, the best type of water to use is distilled water.

Distilled water contains no added minerals or sediments, making it pure. Tap water often contains minerals and debris in the water system, which is hard on the pump and leads to white scale build-up.

How to Fix a Leaking Fountain

Your outdoor fountain water level will lower naturally over time due to evaporation, so when your water level drops it doesn’t always mean you have a leak.

If you do think that your fountain has a leak but there are no visible cracks, let it sit for a week without running. If there is a crack, then it will appear white. 

To fix a leaking fountain, use clear Silicon II and apply it to the leak on the inside of the feature. Note that this only applies if your fountain is made of fiberglass or stone.

Winterize Your Fountain Before Cold Weather Arrives

Keep the Water in the Fountain From Freezing

The most important step to take with your fountain before freezing weather occurs is to completely drain it of all water.

Because water expands as it freezes, any frozen water in your fountain can cause permanent damage to your basin, pump, and exterior.

Outdoor fountain cover protecting water feature in the backyard.

Give Your Outdoor Fountain Protection in Cold Weather

The best way to keep your garden fountain protected in the winter is to disassemble it and store it somewhere that offers protection from the elements.

If you don’t have any storage room, the next best method is to use an outdoor fountain cover. Make sure to get a fountain cover that completely covers the basin and/or the entire fountain.

Improve the Longevity of Your Outdoor Fountain with Proper Maintenance & Care

Backyard fountains add elegant charm and style to your space, but it is necessary to do proper maintenance and care to ensure long-lasting performance and beauty.

Remember to care for your fountain pump, protect it from algae, perform regular cleaning, protect your fountain from freezing weather, and follow all of the best practices mentions in this article. 

If you have any questions and experiences about the care and maintenance of your fountain, please leave a comment below. Also, if you found this guide helpful, don’t forget to share.

Here’s to many years of quality performance, beauty, and relaxation from your outdoor fountain.

Fountains

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