Fountains - Care: Keeping your fountain looking good
Cleaning, pump maintenance, algae and calcium buildup
Good fountain care really doesn’t take more than a few hours every few months and it will keep your water feature looking good and running properly for years: keep the water levels up to prevent damage to your pump and clean the bowl and pump now and again and everything should run smoothly.
Basic fountain care
Don’t let your pump run dry. Submersible pumps are only supposed to be used when covered with water - forget to refill the water and you’ll have a burned out pump on your hands. And if you’re going out of town make sure to unplug your pump.
Cleaning your fountain
Most fountains need to be cleaned every one to three months to prevent the build up of algae and mineral deposits. You need to clean the bowl, rock and pump of your fountain thoroughly - this includes taking your pump apart and cleaning inside it as a build up of algae and mineral deposits can clog the pump. The best way to clean the fountain is with an old toothbrush, dish detergent and warm water.
Cleaning the pump isn’t a difficult job but it is absolutely essential. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on opening the pump before taking it apart and then soak the elements in a vinegar solution. This helps to break down any mineral deposits. In hard water areas you may need to clean the pump twice a month but once a month is generally sufficient in soft water areas. A well maintained pump should last for two to three years.
Preventing algae build up
Algae grow fastest in bright light so it may be a good idea to position your fountain in the shade. After this changing the water in the fountain every month will help reduce algae growth. Cleaning with bleach, Listerine, lemon juice or vinegar can also help prevent the growth of algae or you could buy a commercial algaecide such as Fountec.
Getting rid of calcium deposits
Calcium deposits can build up on the ceramic or stone elements of your fountain. One of the best ways to get rid of them is with a common kitchen or bathroom lime remover. Always check the label though, as some of these products are too strong for use on bronze or slate.
Getting water levels right
Maintaining the right water level in your fountain will protect your pump from burning out. It’s a good idea to check the water level daily. Generally it’s better to add a small amount of water each day rather than a large amount every few days. The water should be changed every month to help prevent algae build up and no less than every four months. In the winter to not allow water to freeze in the pump, lines or bowl.
Winter fountain care
In cold climates it’s a good idea to store your fountain and pump inside during the coldest months of the year. If you can’t do this drain your fountain completely, fill the fountain bowl with burlap and cover the fountain with a waterproof cover for the winter.