Backyard Fountains: 12 Questions & Answers (Explained)

Everything You Need to Know About Backyard Fountains

Whenever you step into a backyard and see crystal clear water flowing from a beautiful fountain, you just know you have to have one for yourself. A well-designed backyard fountain upholds your property value by becoming a technical and essential attribute to your home.

There are key features that come along with owning a backyard fountain. Having knowledge of these attributes will make choosing the right fountain, and sustaining its value, an easy breeze:

  • Fountain Mechanics: The essential instruments that are used to keep the fountain running smoothly and healthy.
  • Fountain Maintenance: Insight into how to keep your fountain’s system clean and clear.
  • Water Maintenance: Helpful suggestions on how to retain and clean your fountain’s water.

When considering your choice of backyard fountains, remember, it’s all in the details. The health of the mechanics is what propels the fountains’ continuance overtime. Allow me to provide you with some resourceful answers to some questions that you may have.

Tips For Choosing A Backyard Fountain

An attractive fountain is the perfect bow for the gift of having a great backyard. Maintenance of the fountains’ mechanics can be a challenge to upkeep, and there’s always something new to know about owning a backyard fountain.

For your convenience, here are a few more helpful tips for choosing a backyard fountain:

  • Choose a location with lots of cover. The shadier the location, the longer your fountain water will last.
  • Be sure that your water pump has an updated filter attached to it.
  • Consider whether you will have an electric or solar panel power source.
  • There are several types of fountains to choose from: pond, tiered, wall, floor, bubble, and cascading.
  • Take notice of your environment, and choose a fountain that will sustain its seasonal changes.
  • Decide on whether or not you will have animals or extra plants around the fountain. Note: plants do wonders for keeping fountain water oxygen-rich!
  • Invest in patio furniture so you can enjoy your new backyard fountain!

Do Water Fountains Reuse Water?

Yes, water fountains do reuse water, and it’s all based on the water pump cycle pattern, and the size of the fountain that you choose. Most fountains use about 1.6 gallons of water more than the average amount of weekly toilet flushes in a home.

Small backyard fountain usually requires only five gallons to fill it up to capacity.

These fountains use an enclosed reservoir – or “basin”- to collect the falling water for recirculation. Water fountains come equipped with either one or two motor-operated pumps.

The water pump(s) are usually located beneath the fountain basin, and as water passes through, the pumps push the water against gravity, back into the air pumps for redistribution. This is a standard process for fountain water reuse, to efficiently recycle its water.

What Do You Put In A Fountain To Keep The Water Clean?

In essence, clean water will keep the fountain clean.

White scale can build up in a short amount of time, which is an indication that it’s time to clear out your fountains’ water. Along with white scale, algae and mold could grow as well, which could be a major turnoff to your guests, and a potential health problem for you.

Keeping your backyard fountain water clean may be easier than you think. Checkout these general and simple steps for cleaning your backyard fountain water:

  • First, turn off your fountain, and drain it of all of the water that is currently inside of it.
  • Next, add a homemade solution or your fountain cleaning product to the inner and outer walls of the fountain. A mild detergent solution mixed with hot water could do the trick.
  • Once your solution is applied, begin to scrub or wipe the fountain of any white scum, bacteria or mold that you may find. You can use a brush, abrasive sponge, or a hard damp cloth for this process.
  • After cleaning, rinse the walls of the excess water, then drain the remaining amount.
  • Once drained, refill the basin with the instructed amount of water, turn it on, and enjoy your newly cleaned fountain!

There are organic and manufactured products that are available for your sanitizing your fountain water, like vinegar or chlorine, or sanitation tablets. As long as your fountain water is clean, you’ll have less growth of unwanted bacteria, thus, a cleaner structure.

Will Vinegar Hurt My Fountain Pump?

The results are in! And no, vinegar will not hurt your fountain pump. It will actually do the opposite: vinegar does very well in healing your fountain pump, and tends to be more potent and successful at cleaning the fountain than ordinary soap and water.

Vinegar contains certain enzymes that breaks down naturally occuring bacteria and mineral deposits. After a thorough cleaning of your pump, simply wipe down the surface and inside of the fountain pump with white vinegar, as an added method of biodegradation and surface sanitation.

It contains no harmful chemicals, and is used for various other cleaning projects connected to hair, sanitation, and even human health. It’s safe to say that using vinegar will only help your fountain stay fresh and clean.

Will Bleach Hurt My Fountain Pump?

Typically, bleach will not damage a fountain pump, unless used in an excess amount. Bleach is a concentrated form of chlorine. Chlorine is used to sanitize water in fountains, ponds, and pools; but too much will affect the foundation.

Using high amounts of bleach will apply too much chlorine to the surface of the concrete or stone material of your fountain, and cause it to erode. Once erosion occurs, it can be a challenging, and expensive, task to fix that problem.

The safest way to use bleach for cleaning your backyard fountain is to add a ¼ cup of bleach to one gallon of water. This is a safe level at which the chlorine will actively sanitize your fountains’ pump, instead of causing it to disintegrate.

How Do You Keep Algae From Growing In The Fountain?

By cleaning the fountain and changing the water, of course!

Algae is the product of excess moisture, mixed with two main nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen. With the addition of water, algae tends to bloom at an alarming rate. This results in the slimy texture, and stinky odor.

Luckily there are ways to keep algae from growing in a fountain. It’s a simple process, and your fountain will thank you for it! Here are a few preventative measures:

  • Use Preventative Products: One or two drops of your homemade cleaning solution, or a 2 tablespoons of bleach has the power to sanitize your water, which keeps the inner walls of your fountain clean. Also, algaecide products are a solid investment as well.
  • Place Your Fountain In Shade: A location with plenty of shade will behoove the fountain by reducing its algae creation rate. With water and minerals, light is the last ingredient for making algae.

Light speeds up the algae-formation process; so the less light your fountain is exposed to, the less algae will grow.

  • Detailed Cleaning: It is recommended to thoroughly clean your fountain structure and your water pump every one to three months – every month for the pump itself.

This will get rid of the surplus amount of bacteria and nutrients that create algae. Use a potent solution that tough on grime like water, soap, bleach and/or vinegar to successfully complete the task.

  • Change Your Water: When water is saturated with minerals, it creates a breeding ground for algae. Change your water approximately every two weeks to avoid this issue. Fresh water is ideal for all fountains.

If you have a small personal fountain, you can invest in distilled water because the minerals that breed algae have been taken out. Although tempting, using distilled water for large fountains will definitely increase your water expenses.

Can You Put Essential Oils In A Fountain?

Yes, you can put essential oils in a fountain, and it’s a great idea! There are plenty of amazing reasons as to why essential oils are a great treat for your fountain:

  • It disperses the scent through the air quickly via water and air.
  • The oil scent will smell amazing!
  • It creates a relaxing environment for entertaining guests.
  • Certain scents will help reduce cold symptoms.
  • Some scents keep bugs away.

Words of caution: use only one drop of oil for personal fountains, and no more than two or three for a large fountain. Too much oil will not break down properly, and will end up clogging your water pump. This could be a costly mistake, so avoid it at all costs.

Why Is My Fountain Losing Water?

There are four major reasons as to why your fountain is losing water: splashing, low edge, a plumbing leak, or evaporation.


Evaporation is the most common form of water loss. Since your fountain is outside, it has no choice but to be exposed to sunlight. Sunlight contains heat, which eats away at water, turning it from a liquid to a vapor. As the water escapes, your water level will decrease.


Water rolling over the walls are bound to happen. The water falling into the basin will cause water to hop out of it, or the side-to-side swing from the tail of an animal will lessens the water level as well.


This is when the edge of the fountain wall is at the same level, or lower, than the level of the water. As the water circulates and splashing occurs, it will push back and forth, making it easy for water pass over the edge.

Plumbing Leak

There could also be a hole or breakage in the liner of your water pipes causing a leak. The liner is used as a border between the solid material and the water. If there is a leak, then water will escape out of the basin, and behind the liner, lowering the water level.

But are there any solutions to these issues? Of course!

Shutting off the fountain completely, and monitoring the water levels. If there is a hole in the physical structure, plug it in with an appropriate construction filler. If it happens to be the plumbing or liner, call your local fountain professional for an accurate repair.

How Do You Keep A Fountain From Splashing?

The most effective way to control the splash from a fountain is to adjust the waters’ rate of flow. The rate of flow is the determining factor that decides how much and how fast the water pours out of the fountain.

Thankfully there are many inexpensive tricks and adjustments that are available that will help reduce the amount of splashing that’s coming from your fountain.

Submerge Smooth Rocks Towards the Bottom

Once the water hits the stone, it will cancel out the splash.

Use a Thin Metal Screen at the Bottom of the Fountain

It will cover the foundation, and when the water falls into the basin, the metal net will limit the amount of water that returns to the top.

Check Your Water Level

Apparently, too much water or too little water can cause splashing as well. After turning off the fountain, make sure that the water level is no more or less than 1 ½ inches away from the rim of the basin.

Determine the Fountains’ Foundation Level

If the foundation is uneven, the water will favor one side over the other, causing significant splashing, and a major loss of water over time. Check the level with a bubble ruler. If uneven, call a fountain professional to readjust the foundation of your fountain.

Change the Settings on Your Water Pipes

The mechanism may be set at a certain speed or flow amount. By recalibrating the conduits, or tightening or loosening a valve, it will successfully manipulate the amount of water output, and therefore, reduce the level of splash.

Turn off the Fountain

If water isn’t running into the basin, then water can’t splash out of it. Such a simple solution, isn’t it?

How Long Do Water Fountain Pumps Last?

The average length of a water fountain pump is between 3 and 5 years.

With improper use or little maintenance of the water system, the pump may last around one year. By applying proper maintenance and clean water, fountain pumps are built to thrive for an adequate amount of years.

In order to reap the benefits of your annual warranty, you must follow the following guidelines: keep your water pump and fountain pipes clean, and keep the fountain water flowing. Those are the two major ways to keep your pump thriving and working correctly.

Can I Turn The Air Pump Off At Night?

You can, but according to the professionals, it isn’t the best idea, and isn’t recommended.

Sure, turning off the air pump at night could save you some money on your electricity bill; but what about your water cost? Turning the pump on and off every night will seriously be reflected in your next water bill.

Of course, the final decision is up to you. Just take into consideration that the professionals say that turning your water off every night will affect the quality of your fountains’ water, and the health of the animals inside of it, if you have any.

Should You Run A Fountain Pump 24 Hours A Day?

It is recommended to keep your fountain pump running all of the time; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are four reasons as to why the fountain pump should always be pumping:

  • Stagnant Water: Keeping your fountain water still is the fastest way to breed bacteria, mold, and nutrients that causes scum. Stagnant water also allows for build up that could clog the water system. Always keep the water circulating.
  • Oxygen Deprivation: When water circulates, it safely releases gases into the air that can be harmful to your water. If the water is still, it can’t exchange the bad gases for the good oxygen, which causes odors and build-up to occur.
  • Efficiency: Because manufacturers are aware of the issue concerning consistent water flow, most pumps are purposely designed to stay on and pump constantly. In addition, modern pumps are much more energy efficient, which means you can keep it running, without the concern of a high electric bill.
  • Filtration: In order for the water to be filtered properly, it must be moving. Keeping your fountain running will allow for effective water filtration, by picking out the debris and bacteria, and return the water in a cleaner state.

All-in-all, unless under repair or maintenance, it will be in your best interest to keep your fountain pump running. It will keep the mechanics of the fountain operating correctly, and will keep your fountain structure in an attractive state.

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