Water Feature Maintenance: 4 Foolproof Methods for Cleaning and Waterproofing Your Fountain

A backyard fountain water feature

An elegant and interesting water feature can provide a serene, reflective space in your home or backyard. But, ensuring the fountain is kept clean and free of algae and other hazards can be a chore if you don’t take the proper precautions. Here are the top four tips for maintaining a clean, well functioning water feature in your home.

How to remove algae and whitescale

Just like we all need to go to the dentist every now and then to get plaque removed and our teeth cleaned, your water feature needs to be cleaned. Here’s an easy step by step process for cleaning your water feature;

  1. Turn off the fountain electricals, including any pumps, heaters, filters and other equipment.
  2. Remove any stones and set them aside to clean separately. Also remove the fountain pump to clean separately.
  3. Remove all the water from the fountain. This part can be tricky, depending on the type of water fountain you have. Generally, a shop vac is a useful tool for quickly and safely removing the water.
  4. Clean the inside of the water feature (the pan) using warm water and a mild soap. Again the type of fountain you have will determine your options for cleaning.
    1. For smaller, portable fountains you can try washing them in the laundry sink.
    2. For large or fixed water features, you’ll need to fill a bucket and clean the water feature where it lies.
  5. Wipe and scrub the pan to remove any whitescale of algae.
  6. Once you’ve finished cleaning the pan, wipe down with clean rags or cloths to remove any soap residue.
  7. Replace pump and stones once they have been cleaned.

Regular cleaning is key to keeping your water feature pristine. Over time, algae and white scale buildup will affect the appearance of your fountain and damage the pump system. Follow the steps above regularly to remove and prevent the buildup of algae and whitescale in your prized centrepiece.

Keep it waterproofed

Waterproofing takes careful time and effort from beginning to end. You want to get it right from the start, as repairing or replacing a faulty waterproofing system is a costly exercise.

Because of the critical role waterproofing plays in your water feature, it’s important to choose quality materials and employ a professional tradesperson when installing a waterproofing system.

Top waterproofing systems

Wolfin membrane systems use a unique combination of PVC and polyester to create a waterproofing membrane that is;

  • Resistant to chemical decay
  • Compatible with bitumen
  • Elongates up to 350%
  • Environmentally friendly and recyclable
  • UV stable

Wolfin systems comprise of a complete single layer homogeneous membrane which can be factory bonded to steel profiles to create complete waterproofing systems. Wolfin also creates Cosmofin membranes, which can be installed over damp substrates, and are highly resistant to impact and puncture.

Avoid poorly installed systems

A poorly installed system can lead to expensive ongoing maintenance, failure of the water feature and damage to materials and structures surrounding the feature due to leaking or explosion. Choose a reliable system like those described above to avoid disaster.

Cleaning the pump

Most water features and fountains have a pump that allows water to move through the feature. Keeping this component clean is essential to the health of your system and will promote the smooth operation of your fountain. Water will pump smoothly, and it will help reduce the occurrence of whitescale and algae.

To clean the water pump:

  1. Remove the pump from the water feature and place it in a sink.
  2. Most pumps have a removable face on one side that provides access to the propeller. Remove this face and set aside.
  3. Take an old toothbrush and scrub all the hard to reach places in the pump. Use running water to help. If you decide to use soap, make sure it’s a mild one, and rinse the pump thoroughly before replacement.
  4. Before replacing the pump, run some water through the hose section to clean it out.

Know the essential products for cleaning your water feature

While a mild soap and running water will definitely do the job in the most basic of circumstances, there are other products you can use to remove mineral deposits and whitescale if they really start to build up.

Calcium lime remover

Generally used in bathrooms and kitchens, CLR is usually found in home improvement stores and large general stores. It removes mineral deposits effectively – just be sure to use a soft, non-abrasive sponge when scrubbing your fountain.

Vinegar and water

If you don’t have any CLR on hand, a mixture of vinegar and water can help remove mineral deposits. Apply to affected areas and let the vinegar do it’s work for a short time, then simply wipe away.

Water clarifier

Algae buildup is inevitable over time, and the best way to ensure your water feature remains algae free is to clean it regularly using the process outlined above. However, use of a water clarifier can extend the time between cleans.

You’ll want a green, nontoxic clarifier that won’t harm pets or children if they get into the fountain water. Biodegradable and environmentally friendly water clarifiers also come in colour safe ranges (for water features that use coloured water) and both indoor and outdoor varieties. Ensure you purchase the product most suitable to your water feature.

Ensuring your water feature remains waterproof

From providing ambience and serenity, to highlighting architecture and interior design, a water feature can be used in many different ways around the home. Make the effort to ensure your water feature is well maintained and you’ll enjoy the benefits for years to come.