Troubleshooting the Pump on an Outdoor Water Fountain

An outdoor water fountain is a superb feature to add to an outdoor area. Be it on a patio, lawn or landscaped garden, it will provide a feature of natural beauty. Everyone loves the sound of water for its calming properties and tranquil atmosphere. If you have installed a water feature, regular maintenance will help to reap the benefits of it. However, if the pump in your water garden fountain is having problems in terms of functioning correctly, you will need to make some troubleshooting investigations to establish the causes.

Water Supply Problems

If you find that your fountain is not functioning as efficiently as it has been and the water delivery is not optimized, have a look at the pump and observe it for signs of clogs. Check the suction lines and the inlet valve for signs of problems. Clean the lines and the valve and reset the pump to assess if that has helped. If that makes no difference, check the weep hole on the pump and the mechanical seal which can also affect the overall performance.

Check the height of the suction lift. If it is higher than it should be, it will reduce the pressure levels at which water passes through the pump. To fix this, lower the pump height and the suction lift level and re-check the water supply to the fountain. If the volute and impeller have worn out they may have excessive clearance, changing the behavior of the pump. Use the manufacturer’s manual that you got with the pump and see if there is a section about optimizing performance.


If the water supply is coming through alright, but not to the same level of pressure that you have previously experienced, check for leaks on the mechanical seal. If it is leaking it will reduce pressure. Address the issue by sealing the leak or replacing the pump.

Priming Issues

The pump casing needs to be filled with water in order to maximize the pressure. If there is a lack of water inside the pump you will find that it gets mixed with air, which will reduce performance in the way the pump operates. It needs to be completely submerged and filled with water, with no air in the pump case at all. Make a test of the water temperature. Most pumps are regulated to work at colder temperatures and anything over and above 16 degrees centigrade (60F) priming will become difficult owing to the suction lift reducing.


To increase the longevity of your fountain pump make monthly or bi-annually checks of the component parts and ensure they are in good working condition. On a monthly basis you should verify that the gaskets and O-rings are functional and in good working order. Always look at the priming speed and refer to the manual for directions on how to maximize performance and longevity. During winter months, if it is not possible to heat the water to an acceptable temperature to prevent freezing it is strongly suggested that you remove the pump, drain it and keep it in a warmer and safe place until the weather warms up.