Fountain Maintenance and Care

Tips on Caring for your Water Fountains

Make your water fountain last with proper maintenance and upkeep. Submersible pumps are the heart and soul of any indoor or outdoor water fountain. It doesn’t matter what the fountains are made of, what size they are, or how much they cost, water fountain pumps are what make them tick, or, more accurately, flow.

The secret to keeping your indoor or outdoor fountain in perfect working condition is in the pump. There’s no big secrecy around it. It’s really just a matter of common sense and basic know-how.

Indoor pumps have somewhat different maintenance needs than outdoor pumps. For example, outdoor fountain pumps are more susceptible to becoming clogged with debris blown into the fountain by Mother Nature herself. They need to be taken right out of the fountain and periodically cleaned. That means that all debris (dirt, sand, leaves, grass, etc) should we wiped out of the fountain regularly. Indoor fountain pumps aren’t exposed to harsh weather conditions, but may need to be adjusted or calibrated slightly (depending on the style of fountain) to adjust the noise level and make the most of the harmonious water sounds coming from the fountain. 

Additional Tips:

1. Be sure your fountain pump is completely submersed in water.

When you first get your water fountain and run it for a few days you will see how often you will need to be adding water. This depends on your climate, atmosphere in your home etc. The size of your fountain will also be a factor as larger fountains such as a wall fountain will typically hold more water, thus no need to fill as often.

2. Keep the fountain pump clean of debris and buildup.

Your pump will be the first thing to see build up as this is what the water is flowing through and filtering the water. You can simply take the pump out of your fountain and wipe it clean with a sponge of cloth. Remove the cover of the pump and clean out the inside as well. If you have small areas in the pump try using a toothbrush to scrub these hard to reach areas. Read more information in our Water Fountain Cleaning Guide and on preventing bacteria in fountains.

3. Keep your water fountains running all the time.

This is a great tip for a couple reasons. First of all, if you keep your fountains on all the time it prolongs the life of the pump because it is not being turned on and off. If cared for properly, your pump should last at least a year, if not 3 to 5 years. Keeping it running as much as possible will extend the life of your pump. Secondly, your water will stay cleaner. Still, stagnant water that is not moving will develop debris and buildup much faster. This is a great tip as many people think they need to shut their fountain off at night or when they leave for work. See our Fountain Pump Facts for more information on choosing the right pump for your fountain.

4. Use Distilled Water.

Distilled water is the best way to prevent algae build up in indoor water fountains. It is however, not required. If you don’t have access to distilled water you can also try a fountain care product such as Algae Control, White Scale Control, or No more foam. There are also great all natural fountain care products that are completely safe for pets and wildlife. Try a fountain protector such as Fountain Cleanser or Bird Bath Cleanser. These work great for outdoor fountains because they are safe for wildlife and distilled water is not always possible for larger outdoor fountains. Regular use of a fountain care product will help prevent algae and white scale build up that happen from minerals and hard water.

5. Clean your water fountain regularly.

This will keep your water fountain beautiful on the outside, like a piece of art! Most fountains can simply be emptied and wiped clean on the inside and out with a cloth or sponge. If you have stainless steel or copper on your waterfall see the care instructions provided below.

Fountain Cleaning Tips for Copper with Powder-Coated or Clear Finish

You will find that water fountains made of copper will either be a natural copper or have a powder-coated finish. Copper with a powder-coated, or clear coat finish has a clear heat-baked finish applied to all surfaces of the copper.

    • This protects the copper from getting that greenish (patina) tint. It also protects the beautiful (hand-applied) patina, and allows the copper to maintain its "New" and lustrous look over the years.
    • NEVER USE COPPER CLEANER on copper with a powder coat finish.  It will remove the finish and cause your fountain to show aging (patina) faster.
  1. Clean copper with Pledge or furniture cleaner and a soft sponge or cloth.
  2. You may also want to apply a turtle wax or car wax to the copper every couple months to protect the copper and keep it shining. 
  3. If you experience white spots (white scale) on your copper they can be cleaned off with CLR (Calcium Lime Remover). 

Please note:

Powder coating does not completely stop the aging process of copper, over time, the copper will age and the powder coating will come off allowing your copper to oxidize as this is a natural material and a normal process.

Care for Natural Copper Fountains

  1. Simply use a furniture polish such as Pledge to keep your fountain clean and beautiful.
  2. You will want to be careful not to let water sit on the copper (all fountains have splash guard to minimize this) for a long period of time.
  3. Copper will oxidize and change color over time. You will see the copper on your fountain go through various stages of “weathering” typically starting with turning a darker color.
    • The time it takes for this process to start is dependent on your climate.
    • NEVER USE Copper Cleaner or CLR as this will remove the patina finish that is hand applied to these copper fountains.

Fountain Care for Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is very simple to care for and is virtually maintenance free. Stainless steel will not age like copper and has an excellent resistance to corrosion. Because stainless steel is a smooth surface it is more difficult for bacteria to settle.

  1. To clean your stainless steel fountain simply wipe it clean with a dry or wet cloth.
  2. Do not use a harsh abrasive cleaner or any abrasive sponges or other abrasive cleaning products. 
  3. Never use a disinfectant such as bleach or anything containing bleach on  your stainless steel because it could eat away at the material.
  4.  You can use a product such as No more White Scale if you start to notice white build up on your fountain.

We want to prolong the life of your fountain by answering any questions you may have. If you don’t find an answer to your question here, please call one of our fountain experts at 1-888-881-4668. Here are some other helpful pages:

Definitive Guide to Fountain Care

Water Fountain Troubleshooting Guide

Outdoor Fountain Maintenance and Care



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