Guide: How to Keep an Indoor Fountain Clean

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Keeping an indoor fountain clean is important to the atmosphere of your home. Without a clean fountain the air may smell dingy, and the water will start getting murky and dark. There are multiple tactics you can use to ensure its cleanliness and preserve your fountain.

To keep an indoor fountain clean, you should cycle vinegar through the system, check the functions of your pump, drain the fountain occasionally, and use clean water. Doing these and other helpful tips will help keep the fountain in top working condition.

Each of these has a process will help the fountain remain untainted from algae, stains and other bacteria. Below, the specifics are told of how each of this processes, including the cleaning of the pump and the entire fountain is done and why each is important. Indoor fountain cleanliness can be much easier than those outdoors, but it still needs to be closely monitored and tracked.

Why Fountain Cleanliness is Important

“There are many factors such as mineral content in water, weather, climate, functioning of filter and pump, etc that determine the level of cleanliness in the water fountain” Source. Each of these are specific to indoor fountains, without the need to consider weather and other outside factors. Keeping the fountain free of stinky chemicals of algae is important to the overall cleanliness of your home.

One of the common mistakes when running water through an indoor fountain is using normal tap water, or other water that amplifies the problems mentioned above. For example, “tap water contains minerals such as manganese, chlorine, lithium etc which can cause discoloration and accumulation of dirt and chemicals” Source.

Indoor fountains also lack exposure to sunlight and natural air, because of this they may not function quite like outdoor fountains. The fountain will need to breathe and air out a different times to keep it remaining fresh. It may also help to allow it hours of sunlight or use other forms of light to help kill bacteria and give the water time to warm slightly.

When it comes down too it, keeping a fountain clean may take some trial and error, but in the long run it will allow the fountain to remain fresh, and unstained. The result will be a longer lasting fountain and an appealing looking and smelling fountain.

The Reason for Vinegar

“Acetic acid is a colorless organic compound that gives vinegar its sour taste and pungent smell” Source. Acetic acid is the main ingredient in vinegar which can be used to clean and disinfect, thought is has other “role[s] as a protic solvent, a food acidity regulator, an antimicrobial food preservative” Source.

It helps to break down mineral deposits and other build-up, which is exactly why it works so well for fountains and other water features. It lacks the harsh side effects of other potent cleaners and replaces it with a natural and viable option.

Adding vinegar to your water system will be helpful in ridding the entire system of build up as you allow the pump to cycle the vinegar throughout all of the pipes and other systems. The amount of vinegar you need will be dependent upon the amount of water in your fountain.

A good rule of thumb is to add a one cup of white vinegar for every gallon of water. You can do this and allow it to cycle through the system a couples times before draining and changing the water, or you can add it to fresh water and then drain it.

You can also use apple cider vinegar as well. Don’t worry to much about the smell that is often associated with vinegar, as it will dissipate in only a couple minutes and leave the water much fresher.

Another perk of using vinegar is that it does not contain the toxic chemicals associated with other cleaners, but is natural and non-toxic and doesn’t break down the walls and basin of the fountain. This will also aid in the cleanliness and function of the water pump, but it is still important to deep clean your pump and give it an extra clean to be sure it is rid of buildup and algae.

There are other cleaning products other than vinegar that you are welcome to consider. These include bleach, chlorine, baking soda or hydrogen peroxide. While they have some harmful side effects, they make for great cleaners, in to much excess they can cause potent smells in your home.

Normally they should only be used occasionally and as needed to get rid of really tough cleaning problems. To much use and it may erode the walls and basin of the fountain.

Cleaning the Pump

“The pump is the unseen heart of your fountain” Source. At the very center of the beautiful fountain sitting in your home is the pump which circulates the water in and out of its bearings. A pumps main function is to circulate water, this ensures that the water does not stay stagnant.

Stagnant water is much better at housing bacteria and giving algae the place and time to grow. Circulating water prevents water lines, and allows any chemicals or vinegar to cycle throughout the whole system and disinfect all the nooks and crannies of the fountain.

To clean the pump, you will first need to turn it off and disconnect it from all power so that it doesn’t electrocute you when you pull it out, and so that it doesn’t try pumping with it is not submerged in the appropriate amount of water.

Pumping without sufficient water will ruin a perfectly good pump, and so always keep it submerged completely in water, and ensure it has stopped before removing it from the water.

Once you have done this, there is normally a plastic backing on the pump that can be popped off or removed, and once inside you will be able to see all the mechanics of it, as well as the build up of dirt and grime that has accumulated.

Leaving the backing off, you can place the mechanics directly under a stream of water from a tap, hose, or sink. This quick movement of fresh water will often help to remove most of the dirt, but if it does not, you can also grab some sort of small brush or rag to get off the excess dirt.

Often times pumps will come with a set of cleaning instructions that can be followed if you have them. It may also be important to clean the hose that connects the pump to the fountain or water source, it can also build up with grime. There are special tools that can be purchased to help with this but generally running water down it quickly will help enough to remove the majority of the dirt and build up.

Vinegar can also be used in the last two suggestions if water doesn’t seem to be doing the job!

As a side note, be sure to use distilled water! Tap water brings about more buildup and can end up causing much more problems and more frequent cleaning. Distilled water is best. If it cannot be found, filtered tap water can help in a pinch. Using distilled water will greatly help in the longevity of your fountain.

Deep Cleaning the Fountain

Well, you’ve thrown some vinegar in the mix every couple of weeks and kept the pond as nice as possible, but eventually a deeper cleaning will need to take place. This will reap great results in the smell department as well as the freshness aspect of it all. Normally, such a process will begin with you draining the water from your fountain. Be sure to turn off the submersible pump to keep it from getting ruined!

If you have rocks or other decorative figurines within your pump, they should also be removed and washed separately than the pump. For example you could take the rocks from the fountain and pressure wash them, or just place them in fresh water and rub off all grim and debris.

You can also add vinegar to the water and mix it around, allowing the to soak for some time. After being washed, the rocks or figurines should be placed in direct sunlight to dry, killing all other bacteria that may remain.

Once the fountain is drained of the water and the rocks and other things removed, grab a rag and some vinegar and begin gently scrubbing all the surfaced with the rag. You can also use a small brush (like a toothbrush) to help you get off the dirt and other buildup.

Vinegar is a good and productive product to you, but you can also create a mixture of warm water and dish soaps to help get off any stains or buildup. Another option is commercial calcium lime remover. Whatever will work best for your situation can be found either at home or a local hardware store.

Once you have scrubbed down the entire fountain, grab a clean rag to rub any remaining soap of vinegar off and allow the fountain to dry in the sun for a few hours. Once it is dry, and you can add back in your rocks and figures, and refill the fountain with distilled water and re-submerge your pump to get everything back to working condition.

You can add vinegar back in as well if needed, or you can wait a couple days or a week before adding more into your water mixture.

Other Cleaning Tips

Each of the above mentioned techniques will help you to have a clean indoor water fountain, but there are many other things you can do or learn more about to make the best use of your fountain and keep it in top working condition. Below are some other random tips that could be of use to you if your situation differs, or if you just want to know more.

  • Having animals in and around the house will add a whole new aspect to keeping your fountain clean. Often times there will be bird droppings, feathers, or other animal fur floating in the pond. This will cause the fountain to get dirty much quicker and to harbor more potent smells. In order to overcome this, you should clean the pond more often and fish out debris left by the animals.
  • If your pump starts making more noise than usual this is a sign to you that it is no longer completely submerged and more water needs to be added. This may also make it seem as though the fountain needs to be cleaned, and while that could be the case you will be amazed to see what just adding more water will do.
  • What if your fountain has fish in it? This will defiantly narrow down what cleaning techniques you can do. They make it harder to change the water, but adds a whole new aspect to the water feature. Vinegar is about the only option you can use to clean the fountain when you have fish in it, as a matter of fact vinegar can actually be beneficial to the fish in small amounts.

    If you do drain the water, be sure to keep the fish in the original water while you wait for the new water to come to the right temperature.
  • Most fountains are made of stone or other washable basins, but sometimes glass or metal pieces are throw into the mixture. It is important to note that all of these can be cleaned the same way, and if possible they should be taken out and cleaned separately to ensure their continued use.
  • Be sure to clean your fountain regularly. Not doing it for months and months can be detrimental in a variety of ways. Leaving a fountain with murky, smelly water and lots of algae build up will actually stain the interior of your pond, which stains can be really tough to remove. Leaving lime deposits for long periods of time will also mean they are harder to get off, and in some instances will never come off.

Cleaning a indoor water fountain does not require much work, but be sure to keep up with it all to ensure a small job doesn’t become a larger one!

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We always wanted a fountain of some kind at our house, but professional installation was just too pricey. So, we decided to make our own little fountain and after learning how, we thought we should share our experiences to help people in our same situation.

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