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Question DetailsAsked on 8/5/2013

how do you clean an outdoor tiered fountain?

We just purchased a home with a tiered water fountain in the front. We have used shock to help with the algae in the two top bowls, but the bottom is full of sediment, organic matter, and algae. There was no instruction left on how to care and clean the fountain or how to drain the water.

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3 Answers


Having owned our home and installed an outdoor fountain with 3 tiers, I believe I can help answer your question. In short, there's no quick fix or easy answer to what comes down to grunt maintenance. Yes, birds will deposit remnants into your fountain and grass clippings, leaves and other detritus will make its way into your bowls and likely clog your filter unless you are dilligent about keeping it clean.

As I live in the Midwest, I get about 7 months of pleasure from ours and then have to winterize it. If you live in an area sans freezing weather you'll just have to clean and drain yearly.

My recommendation: Start with clean bowls and a clean filter every year. No instruction guide needed, but a scrub brush, some elbow grease and maybe some soft scrub are needed to make it look good. Of course, you should do this with a dry fountain upon yearly start up so that your pump filter is clean and free of muck. If you are squeamish about going in with bare hands or have any open cuts, use some form of hand protection or non-alleregic waterproofgloves. Or, simply wash your hands REALLY REALLY well after any cleaning or contact with dirty water.

Once the bowls and pump/filter is clean and dry, inspect for cracks and use appropriate caulk, sealant paint or other coating to prevent further deterioration. Note: our fountain has lasted 16 years with proper maintenance and winterization. After application and drying, refill with clean water and add a cup full of vinegar. This is safe for birds, grass and plants when you spill over or drain your fountain. Because of wind, droppings, and general deposits into your fountain, you'll want to clear out the leaves and such on a weekly basis. I use a small fish net to grab leaves and such or my hands if I'm just casually walking by a see things floating. It's easier to catch these when they're fresh than when decayed and mucky.

When you refill with water because of evaporation, add a bit more vinegar. This also keeps the bowls themselves cleaner and easier to scrub if needed. Unfortunately, there's no substitute for this type of maintenance and I've gotten it down to about 10-15 minutes a week. Although, during hot summer months, daily additions of water are necessary.

Winterization (if needed): drain water out of all tiers. I use a shop vac and simply empty the water onto my grass. Note: if you do "shock" your fountain with chlorine you may burn your grass or plants depending upon the concentration. Once drained and dried completely, I put burlap or junky towels inside each bowl and then cover with a BIG tarp or custom cover which is tied down on the bottom and ready for those winter gusts, snow and ice. In the spring, I begin all over again and enjoy the sounds of my water and sights of birds enjoying their baths and drinks.

Answered 7 years ago by Guest_97258625


Thank you to the person who gave me some answers to cleaning a fountain. HOW DO YOU DRAIN IT? Do you have to empty it bucket by bucket?


Answered 7 years ago by Guest_94289873


I think he said he used a wet/dry shop vac.

Another way if the basins are fairly flat is to use the hose with a jet nozzle - put it in the bowl full pressure directed tangentially so it creates a whirlpool - unless your basins have an internall lip, that can actually clear about 80% of the water out typically, leaving a lot less to dip out or slosh out.

If you don't have a wet/dry shop vac and the vortex with hose does not work for you and fountain is pretty large to bucket out, siphon it out using a garden hose - fill the hose completely with water, unscrew from faucet without losing much (hold thumbs over both ends until you can hold both ends up high and level), while holding ends up place one end into fountain (still holding end closed)and weight it down with a brick or rock so it stays on the bottom, then release thumb and drop the other end where you want the water to drain to - will siphon the bowl almost dry. To do next bowl you either have to plug the inlet end with finger and move to lower basin before it starts sucking air, or let it go dry and then refill the hose with water to start next siphon process. Do NOT do this if you or kids drink from the hose or you use hose to fill pet dishes - possible risk of getting bird diseases from hose - use a dedicated piece of old hose in that case.

Remember you have to drain the pump also so water does not freeze in it - if removeable, good idea to take indoors after draining.

On the caulk - use plain latex caulk, not siliconized - that can kill the birds with leached chemicals.

On cleaning - if concrete, can use abrasive cleaner like Clorox - just rinse well to remove the bleach and chemicals so it does not jurt the birds. If porceliin finished or painted, use a non-abrasive cleaner safe for tube and sinks.

For more thought on care, google this phrase - how to care for fountain

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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