Indoor water features can be luxurious additions to a home, significantly enhancing its beauty and atmosphere. However, they are not without their risks. They must be properly installed and maintained, and a serious failure can cause significant damage to their surroundings. A leaking fountain can ruin surrounding floors, wall coverings, furniture, and even potentially the structural fabric of the home. This is why scrupulous maintenance is a vital part of operating an indoor water feature.
To prevent this sort of calamity and also keep a fountain looking its best for many years, the following best maintenance practices should be followed rigorously:
Dealing With Scale And Lime Buildup
If a fountain begins to develop a white film on surfaces close to the water line, the usual culprits are chemical contaminants in the water. An unwanted film may be more common if the fountain runs on tap water is drawn from a hard water source.
Scale and lime deposits can be safely cleaned with a product designed for CLR (calcium, lime, and rust) removal if the water feature does not include plants or aquatic life. A more gentle all-natural alternative is to use a mix of water and vinegar and a non-scratch scouring pad to scrub deposits away.
Note that you must make sure your cleaning products are compatible with the material and finish of your fountain; very porous surfaces (e.g. marble) may need special treatment. With delicate materials, you should always seek out scale removers that are specifically formulated for use on that type of surface.
Fixing Unwanted Odors
Sometimes an indoor water feature develops an unpleasant aroma. This most often happens when algae are allowed to build up excessively or with water features that do not tap into a fresh water source.
Fountains that recirculate the same water over and over should be completely drained and refilled on at least a quarterly basis. Larger features that are hooked up to a fresh water source will drain and refill automatically, although they still may have odor issues due to cleaning chemicals or algae buildup.
The holding tank can be scrubbed manually to reduce unwanted smells, and algae formation can be curtailed by employing a skimmer on larger water features.
Resolving Inconsistent Flow Rates And General Pump Problems
The most common cause of pump issues and inconsistent flow rates in indoor fountains is an unacceptably low water level around the pump mechanism. For most features, complete submersion under at least two inches of water is required for pumps to operate properly.
Every water feature will lose water through evaporation; the speed with which this occurs depends on the prevailing humidity of the air around the fountain. Topping up the feature on a weekly or even daily basis may be required to keep the pump operating smoothly. If pump performance is still unacceptable, it may need to be cleaned.
Bear in mind that your water feature pump is designed to run continuously and should only be shut off when it is absolutely necessary. According to Indoor Fountain Pros in smaller features with independent pumps, inconsistent flow or noise may sometimes be caused by a loose mechanism vibrating. Your pump can and should be affixed securely to the fountain with suction cups in order to hold it in place.
Pumps can be buffered with foam or sponges to prevent noisy vibrations. Remember to keep pump intakes clear when you buffer them, though!
Eliminating Messy Splashes
A properly-designed fountain intended for indoor use should not cause unwanted splashing. However, adopting an outdoor feature or operating a poorly-made indoor fountain may result in water going astray.
There are several basic elements to check if you are getting unwanted splashes, including water level, rock positioning, splash guards, and pump speed. When the pump in a fountain with a low water level is exposed to air, it can cause spitting and spread water outside the feature.
If your pump has flow adjustment capabilities, try turning them down to curtail splashing; the mechanism might be set at a level that’s too high for your specific set-up. Check for rocks that might be deflecting water out of the fountain and rearrange any that are causing splashes.
Finally, if you are operating an outdoor-type feature indoors, it may be helpful or absolutely necessary to invest in splash guard screens for the basin to prevent wet floors around the feature.
Fountain Care In Cold Weather
While this article is focused primarily on indoor water features, in many homes fountains are operated in areas that fall outside the building’s heating envelope (e.g. enclosed porches). You want to avoid allowing water to freeze in your fountain at all costs. Water going through the freeze-thaw cycle can damage delicate pump mechanisms or even crack the fountain itself. If you know your fountain will be regularly subjected to freezing temperatures over the winter, drain it thoroughly before the cold weather arrives. Using a purpose-built cover to protect the dry fountain is also an excellent idea.