There isn’t any sort of unknown doctrine behind keeping water fountains maintained other than some plain common sense. When it gets really cold, it’s pretty much time to shut it down. A primary consideration for “why” is in the tubing that supplies the water to the various outlet points. Water expands when frozen and can break almost any container holding it, if restricted enough. In some climates – such as the milder Winters in the North West USA – the fact is, on water features which have the piping underground and which feed to an outlet where running water cascades down waterfalls and into our constructed creeks, it is possible to keep it running all Winter long. As long as circulation is achieved, moving water will essentially not freeze. Now, having said that, there is a level of freezing which is a limit for any running water feature. We look at Niagara Falls in the Winter and we come to realize this limit exists.
I had to put that there. It’s 95 degrees here and I realize I may have to change it back out to Maui in the Winter, but it looks interesting and cooling at the moment. Pure selfishness on my part. Sue the author!
Other Maintenance Considerations
Pumps can get clogged by accumulations of debris. Almost any pump we would use outdoors will most certainly have a filter of some sort – or should – but even then smaller particles can coalesce inside an impeller or up a tube, piling a few layers on top of one another until either the tube is restricted or the pump fails or – in some cases – breaks down. Leaves are not always large. Over time, they break down into smaller pieces. Even city water contains elements which can adhere to slick pipes and build up. Birds don’t necessarily foul their own drinking and bathing sources but they do fly overhead and drop stuff. Winds can bring any number of elements to deposit into a fountain.
Fountain Care in the winter is really about two things externally, stopping ice and wind. When the onset of the first deep freeze is looming around the corner you will want to completely drain your fountain – and maybe even towel dry if you have some standing water, then make sure all plugs and drain stops are removed. This will allow any condensation to channel out properly and drain out of the fountain. Then you will want a fountain cover of some degree, we carry these and use them on our retail lot. If applicable to your fountain – attempt to remove the top finial and place it in the lowest basin (as we have done with the larger fountain pictured below), even with a fountain cover high winds can send a four tiered fountains finial toppling down to a quick, ugly demise. Then place either an old towel, rag, straw, your ex-husbands favorite Cubs Shirt or whatever you find in the lowest tier – this will soak up any condensation that gathers throughout the winter and keep this water off of your fountains finish(the main goal behind all of this effort). Cinch up your fountain cover and bunker down in those cold months, it may not be as pretty as having your fountain running in the summer months – but you know your fountain is well protected from the elements. When you make a sizable investment for an outdoor fountain most people will agree, longevity is something to consider and these simple steps will add many years to your fountains lifetime.
Bottom Line: Make a yearly check of the system. Assess what amounts of accumulations you find – if any – and act accordingly. Frankly, most fountains we know of are best maintained by simply running the water. The act of circulation itself often removes potential hazards.
For Californians, there is another factor, I happen to know, having lived there. I have even seen this scenario enacted in Nevada as well. Earthquakes can knock a fountain out of plumb, changing the flow and the levels of the more complex fountains. Even earthquakes of small magnitude can cause problems. Most pumps can handle running without water for a time. However, they often have limits. If by some chance the water evacuates, being spilled or simply knocked out of the bowls, a good reworking of the level and security overall is in order.
For more complex questions concerning maintenance or any aspect of Fountain care at all, please don’t hesitate to contact the people at Pond And Fountain World directly or by email. There is more in the link here. Click this link which will take you to our website home where we have already addressed quite a few similar issues ourselves.