At Fountain Mountain, we’ve been in the fountain selling industry for more than 20 years. With our knowledge and expertise, we know that running a pump dry is a very bad idea.
Even if your pump has an automatic shutoff in it, these shutoffs can wear out. That could mean the shutoff will stop working, or it could be your pump will just fail to start up any longer. So the number one thing is to keep your water level high enough so that the pump is always pulling in water. They are not intended to run dry.
Also, though some pumps come with adjustable water flow features, it is not usually a good idea to restrict water flow too much. This can ultimately damage the pump.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks on how to maintain a water feature so you can get the most out of your investment.
The Importance of Backyard Water Feature Maintenance
Some people like to add a fountain water fill float to the basin of their fountain. These work similar to the ones you find at the back of a toilet, filling the basin to an optimum level so you don’t have to think about it. Plumbing is required.
Pumps need maintenance. If possible, they should be removed periodically for the best clean.
The filter screen should be kept clean as well. If you have a sponge filter, note that these can sometimes get very dirty very fast.
A pump impeller
Additionally, you need to periodically inspect your pump’s impeller, the fan inside your pump’s body. This is what turns inside your pump and produces the flow.
Check to see if the fins are in good shape (not broken) and make sure both the impeller and the cavity are clean of debris and excessive mineral staining. You can see more on how to clean an impeller at the bottom of our About Fountain Pumps page.
If you have vinyl tubing, crud can get lodged inside. This is less common in PVC pipe. However, if you are using vinyl tubing, you might have to replace periodically or find a way to clean it out with a long rod.
Also note that pumps should not freeze. If the water inside freezes, damage will occur to the pump.
Tips for Outdoor Water Feature Maintenance
Outdoor fountain maintenance also requires you to watch that the water doesn’t freeze in the fountain, because this can cause damage to your fountain as the material expands and contracts in the weather. In places where freezing is common, the fountain should be emptied.
Unplug the feature and detach the tubing from the pump and run water at high pressure through the tubing to clear it out. Again, you might have to use a rod or replace the tubing altogether if there is too much muck inside it. You can also place the tubing in a bucket filled with water and two cups of bleach and let the tubing soak to see if it clears up.
To get rid of slime in your fountain, you can mix white vinegar and water at a ratio of three parts vinegar to one part of water. Scrub the fountain with a scrub brush, but make sure the brush you choose does not damage the finish of your fountain. Once finished, you should wash out the fountain with water only, removing the vinegar.
You should also check your fountain for leaks or any chance of cracking in the future. If you have a concrete fountain that contains rebar, note that rebar does rust inside if not painted or otherwise sealed. If you have a painted fountain that is losing its sealant quality, it is best to take care of that or you could have a cracked fountain in the future.
Special Care: Bronze fountains
Bronze and steel fountains require a special kind of maintenance, and a lot depends on whether you like the natural patina finish they acquire over time. It is best to find resources that specifically deal with bronze or refer to your manufacturer’s manual to find best maintenance of bronze.
For more information on pond and backyard fountain maintenance, browse our blog.