How to Keep Outdoor Fountain Water Clean
Tips & Tricks

How to Keep Outdoor Fountain Water Clean?

Outdoor fountains are pretty much outdoor works of art perfect for sprucing up your backyard. Fountains allow you to express yourself by using sculptures or figurines as a part of their design. However, cleaning them can be a bit of a deterring factor.

Not to mention draining and refilling the water, which is as strenuous as the cleaning process. Then you have to consider the different cleaning products to use. Keep reading to learn what you should use to keep your fountain water clean for birds.

How to clean an outdoor water fountain

Before cleaning your outdoor water fountain, read the manufacturer’s instructions. Different fountains require different chemicals, and using the wrong chemical to clean your fountain can result in irreversible damage to your beloved water feature.

Once you are clear on the best products to use, proceed to clean your fountain using the following steps;

Drain Your Fountain

Begin by draining your fountain. Depending on the size of your fountain, a wet/dry vac may be required to get the fountain basin completely drained. Be sure to unplug your pump before draining your water fountain, or you can burn out the pump’s motor.

Rinse Your Fountain

Rinse your fountain with clean water. Clear all the lines by running the water through the lines. Use a rag and water to rinse your fountain and see what algae stains may require additional attention to be removed.

Clean Your Pump

Carefully remove your pump from your water fountain. Take it to a well-lit area and disassemble the pump according to the manufacturer’s instructions. An old toothbrush can provide you with a very efficient way to clean the hard-to-reach places within your pump. 

Be sure that you don’t use any chemicals that are not listed as approved by the manufacturer, and you must rinse your pump off to remove any soap. Soap can ruin a pump in less than a day, so it is critically important that you rinse your unit off completely.

Clean all Spouts and Tubing

Cleaning the pipes and tubing of your fountain can require special tools. Pipe cleaners are one of the cheapest and most effective ways to get your tubing clean. Make sure fully clean each tube to prevent blockage. 

A blocked line can burn your pump out and even cause leaks within your tubing system. Avoid these problems by inspecting all of your tubings after a thorough cleaning.

Clean the Fountain Basin

Go back over your fountain basin with fresh water. Depending on the material that your fountain is made from, you may be able to use high-pressure washing techniques. For example, cast stone fountains can be pressure washed for an extra clean look.

Scrub Stains Out

Some stains will be stubborn and require a little more attention to remove. These stains can be removed using a toothbrush and an approved cleaning agent. If you do not have access to any fountain basin cleaner, dish soap can work for most stains. But it may take some effort.

Rinse Your Fountain

Now rinse your fountain to remove any chemicals from the fountain’s walls. Next, take your wet/dry vacuum and remove all the water from the basin again.

Finally, inspect your fountain’s basin to ensure that all stains have been removed. Algae can come back quickly, so you need to be sure that you have completely removed any algae from your fountain during this process.

Refill the fountain

Distilled water can be another great addition to your alga prevention strategy. Again, this is a great way to avoid using chemicals, but it can raise your ownership costs. 

Add an algaecide

These are usually inexpensive and last a long time. Fountec Algaecide and Clarifier will keep algae away but is not an abrasive chemical. It is safe for all animals, including birds and pets, who like to drink out of your fountain when used as directed.

Do not use it if you have fish in the fountain as algaecides are too strong for fish. All you do is add a few drops each week, depending on the size of your fountain, and it keeps algae under control.

How do I keep my outdoor fountain algae-free?

Follow these tips to keep your water fountain from turning green;

Deep clean the fountain

Clean the fountain thoroughly every one to three months, depending on the size of your fountain. Keeping the fountain and its components clean prevents algae growth by eliminating waste materials and nutrients from the water.

Fill the fountain with fresh water

If your outdoor fountain is small, use distilled water to give your fountain an extra edge in the battle against algae. Distilled water already has the impurities removed and can help prevent algae buildup. However, using distilled water is not practical for very large fountains.

Use the right pump size

When buying a fountain, select a pump that is rated according to the size of the fountain to ensure proper aeration of the water. Aeration of the water is another line of defense against algae accumulation since it increases oxygen levels in the water.

Place your fountain in the shade

Direct sunlight enables more rapid algae growth. However, if a shaded area is unavailable, a partially shaded area may still help slow algae growth. Also, consider placing a cover such as an umbrella or awning in the area near your fountain to help provide shade if no natural shade is available.

Use algae prevention products

Do this right after you have set up or deep cleaned your fountain. Commercial products are available online and at home improvement and maintenance stores.

Common products include Algae Shield and SeaKlear. Before applying an anti-algae agent to your fountain, check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that the product you purchased will not damage your current fountain setup.

Change your fountain water monthly

Changing the water helps eliminate current living algae and prevents buildup in your fountain’s pump system. Empty your cold water fountain and allow it to air dry before filling the fountain.

If possible, rinse down your fountain and wipe away any buildup or residue from the fountain surface and any decorative features such as stones before refilling it.

Clean your water pump

The pump is responsible for cycling water through the fountain, reducing algae’s growth ability. So first, scrub the pump’s parts with a sponge or a firm-bristled toothbrush and distilled water.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you need to open the pump to get at interior parts. All pumps are different, and what works for one pump may not work for another.

Submerge the pump

The pump cannot function unless it is entirely underwater. Therefore, keep the pump submerged to keep water cycling through and prevent algae from building and growing on the surface.

You may have to add water to your fountain for the first several days after setting it up to ensure the pump stays submerged.

Scrub your fountain

If you find that your fountain has developed noticeable algae, the first thing you need to do is thoroughly scrub the individual components of your fountain. Next, take your fountain apart and clean each surface using soap and hot water and allow it to air dry before reassembling.

Replace your pump

If heavy algae growth continues for extended periods in your fountain, consider replacing the pump to get better water movement and circulation. You may be able to do this yourself, or you may want to call in an expert, depending on your fountain’s size and level of experience.

Can I put bleach in my garden fountain?

Never use chlorine or bleach as an algaecide or cleaner. Chlorine can damage your pump and fountain surfaces. Bleach can corrode the concrete in a water fountain and may also stain it, so it isn’t a good “quick fix” despite what you may read online.

Also, if there are any pets or animals around, using bleach will make the water unsafe for their consumption and potentially cause them serious harm. You could potentially harm or even kill fish, birds, amphibians, etc. Even the best pond plants will die if they come into contact with bleach.

Can I put vinegar in my water fountain?

To quickly clean and freshen your indoor water fountain, add a cup or two of filtered white apple cider vinegar. Vinegar exhibits antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties, killing germs on contact. And best of all, it’s all-natural and doesn’t rely on the use of harsh chemicals.

If you have an algae problem, your best friend is white vinegar. White vinegar can quickly kill algae but is not harmful to birds, insects, and the majority of plants. Use a mixture of one part water and one-part white vinegar to spray down the area and kill the algae.

How to keep fountain water clean naturally

Below is a natural cleaning procedure that will help to keep your fountain water clean and safe;

Check for Debris

Remove debris from the water several times a week using a small net, such as leaves, twigs, and insects. Check the water pump to remove any debris that might clog it, preventing it from circulating water properly.

Drain the Fountain

Unplug the pump and drain the water from the fountain at least once monthly or when the water appears dirty. Most fountains have a small plug on the bottom to make draining easy. Otherwise, scoop or siphon the water with a piece of tubing.

Clean the Pump

Remove the pump from the fountain and soak in a 50 percent solution of diluted distilled white vinegar to loosen tough mineral stains. Then, wipe the outside with a soft cloth.

Wipe Down the Pump Cover

Remove the pump cover and remove any large debris from the inside with your hands. Using an old toothbrush to clean and remove small algae and mineral buildup deposits in hard-to-reach areas suggests Carved Stone Creations. Rinse thoroughly and replace the pump cover.

Scrub the Fountain

Scrub the inside of the fountain with a stiff-bristled scrub brush, hot water, and mild dish detergent. If needed, use vinegar to soak off mineral stains or baking soda, which is mildly abrasive to loosen and lift stains. Vinegar is usually effective at removing calcium and lime buildup when the fountain is cleaned regularly.

For severe buildup, a special calcium, lime, and rust removal product can help restore the original beauty of the fountain. Never use vinegar or calcium, lime, and rust cleaners on natural copper fountains because these remove the copper patina finish.

Rinse the Fountain

Rinse the inside of the fountain thoroughly, wiping it with a rag to ensure the fountain walls are completely free of detergent.

Check this too: How Long Does it Take to Pressure Wash a Driveway?

Apply Automotive Wax

When cleaning powder-coated copper fountains, protect the coat with automotive wax after cleaning and drying the fountain. You can use furniture polish to clean natural copper fountains.

Add Distilled Water

Replace the plug and fill the fountain with distilled water. Serenity Health points out that distilled water contains fewer minerals than tap water. For larger fountains requiring a lot of water, add a few teaspoons of chlorine bleach to tap water or treat the water with a fountain enzyme product designed to prevent mineral and algae buildup. Use only about one teaspoon of bleach for smaller fountains.

Turn the Pump On

Put the pump back in the water, plug it into an electrical outlet and turn it on to begin circulating the water.