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Fountain Pumps

The pump is the unseen heart of your fountain.

Submerged in the reservoir, the pump draws water into its housing, where an impeller (a water propeller spun by electricity) forces the water out through the pumpís outflow fitting. Vinyl hose carries the recirculating water from the pump to the fountain piece where the water emerges again.

Usually a small portable fountain will use a 120-volt (U.S.A. and elsewhere) submersible pump with a volume of between 60 and 140 gallons per hour (217 and 532 liters per hour). Larger fountains, in which a larger volume of water must be raised a greater vertical distance, require more powerful pumps.

Most pumps have a flow control mechanism to regulate the outflow of water. By adjusting the rate of flow, you can achieve different effects and eliminate unwanted splashing.

Most small pumps come with rubber or plastic feet to help cushion them and/or hold them in place. Or they might be held in place by other items in the fountain. It usually doesnít matter whether your pump will sit on its feet or lie on its side, as long as there is plenty of water covering the intake surface.

Pumps can be left operating around the clock safely. Remember to keep the pump submerged under water. And, since water helps conduct electricity, itís prudent to dry your hands thoroughly before plugging in the pump. (See "Safety Thoughts" in "Where to Set Your Fountain.")

Most pumps are under warranty for a minimum of one year. If you ever need to buy a replacement pump, FountainFinder has links to pump suppliers.

Keep It Submerged
Because pumps keep water constantly recirculating through the system, fountains are not wasteful of water. The only water lost is through evaporation - which is beneficial in humidifying the air. Periodically, you simply replenish the water that has evaporated. Use distilled water, because hard water deposits can build up on parts of the pump, placing an extra load on the motor.

Safety Note: Submersible pumps are not designed to work in air and should ONLY be used when covered with water. Never let your pump run dry (run without water flowing through it) or you could ruin it! If the pump is making a sucking or growling sound, it is telling you: GIVE ME WATER!

Turn off the fountain pump if you're going to be away for a prolonged time (thus, unavailable to monitor and replenish the water).

Low Maintenance
The pump is virtually maintenance-free. The whirling impeller can jam if something (e.g., a bit of leaf) finds its way past the intake screen. And with the typical magnet-driven ("mag-drive") motor, there is a cylindrical magnet spinning in a well where silt-laden water is circulating. Even the crumbs of calcium carbonate formed by the evaporation of hard water can jam the magnet. But these problems occur very infrequently and, when they do, the pumps are easily disassembled (without tools) for cleaning.

Pump Noise
There is no such thing as a silent pump. They typically emit a soft humming sound. Some pumps are quieter than others, and some fountains, usually those with the pump submerged in deeper water, conceal the sound better than others.

Sometimes noise is amplified through furniture, such as a wooden table. To minimize this effect, set the fountain on a sheet of cork, felt, or foam, or on a square of carpet or an old mouse pad.

The amount of sound made by the water also affects how much you hear any pump sound. The more sound your flowing fountain makes, the less you will hear the pump. Water running over a smooth surface doesn't produce much sound. Water running over a rougher surface makes more sound. Water falling free into a pool makes even more sound. Often a faster rate of flow will produce more sound, also. (Avoid a flow which produces unwanted splashing, though.)

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