Should a Water Feature Be On ALL THE TIME?

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We’ve all seen beautiful fountains or waterfalls in the yard of an envied neighbor, but when the time has finally come for you to install your own elegant water feature you may find yourself faced with a new dilemma. When the lights turn out and sun sinks beneath the horizon, does the fountain turn off? If so or how long?

For the overall health of the pump, water features should ideally be left running twenty-four hours a day, as the halt of flowing water through its system could potentially lead to the death of beneficial bacteria, the declined health of aquatic life, and algae bloom.

While leaving the pump running may be best for its longevity, it may not be completely logical for you to keep your water feature running twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. When deciding whether or not to leave your pump running non-stop, take into consideration the overall affects and main causes of wear-and-tear on your pump and how the seasons will effect your water feature.

Keep the Water Running

Let’s take a look at what could potentially happen when the water is being shut on and off on a nightly basis. When water is continuously flowing through the pump’s system contaminants are naturally eliminated by the steady stream of liquid. So when the water is shut off it not only decreases the buildup of positive bacteria, it also reduces the filter’s efficiency.

The filter’s performance suffers because the water is no longer carrying nuisances like dead leaves and dirt through the filtration system. Instead, the debris situates itself comfortably at the bottom of the water feature.

This will happen night after night, every time you cut off the water flow, until what would normally be captured by the filtration system has slowly begun to build up in an undesirable pile. Now that the gob of debris is lounging on the floor of your fountain or pound, it has become a perfect nesting ground for algae to nurture and grow.

Needless to say, the formation of algae is not only unpleasant to see in an item designed to enhance the beauty of your yard, but often lethal for aquatic life such as fish, and even some times beloved pets like dogs or cats that may take an occasional sip or dip from the body of water.

In order to avoid such tragedies, you’ll be forced to combat it with algaecides. The cost of which, to both your time and resources, could have been easily avoided had you just left the water running.

Unfortunately algae isn’t the only threat to the health of your pond’s residents when the water is still and unmoving. When bodies of water are stagnant they lose their ability to absorb oxygen or release ammonia. These elements often weaken the immune system of fish and lead to sickness.

Pump Wear-N-Tear

We’ve established that keeping the pump going at all hours of the day is ideal for the upkeep of both your water feature, however, in order to insure the longest possible life for your pump it’s important to understand what elements speed up the deterioration of the pump and the proper tools and procedures used to keep it efficient and functioning for as long as possible.

As it turns out leaving the water running in your fountain also extends the life of your pump. Switching the pump on and off wears on the mechanics of the device and significantly shortens its lifespan. The pump should be cleaned every three months to make sure it isn’t being obstructed by any debris.

Cleaning the pump may sound complicated but the process is actually rather straight-forward. After unplugging it, scrub it thoroughly with an old cloth or toothbrush.

Fountains Through the Seasons

If you live in a warm climate, you probably won’t have to worry too much about the effect the changing seasons could have on your pond, fountain, or waterfall. For those of us dealing who are forced to deal with freezing and in some cases even below-freezing temperatures once the weather turns, the original question regarding whether or not it’s wise to leave the water running all the time may resurface.


Outdoor fountains are typically built to withstand the temperamental whims of Mother Nature, pumps are not. To protect the pump from being cracked or damaged by frozen water, it is critical to remove all water from the fountain before the thermometer drops below thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit.

If your fountain is small enough, it is advised to move the object into a shed or garage before it is hit by the full force of the winter months. If possible, place it in an insulated area in your garage, if the building itself isn’t already insulated. This also provides an excellent opportunity to perform some routine cleaning to ensure it is ready to come back to life once the snow melts and warmth returns to the outside world.

If your fountain is too large to be moved you should invest in a fountain cover or some other protective layer to use after all the water has been removed. Doing so will keep the moisture out and prevent your beautiful stone from cracks and corrosion.

If you decide not to invest in a cover, then it is essential that your cover the basin of your fountain with towels or some other form of absorbent materials to prevent the foundation from being fractured by ice.


Leaving your fountain running constantly in the spring can be a little tricky, since you are still pretty close to winter. Once winter has ended and things start growing again, it’s natural to want to get your fountain up and running. Doing that is completely reasonable, but you might have to use a little extra caution, depending on where you live.

Spring freezes still have the potential to cause damage to your pump, pipes, or fountain if you start running water through too early. Check the weather, and use your best judgment when it comes to turning the water back on.

If you feel like there is a chance your fountain could freeze, use a little patience and wait ’til the danger has passed and you know for sure things are warming up again. If you don’t, you may end up paying for it in a very literal way.


Summer is probably the safest month to leave your pump running constantly. You don’t have to worry about it freezing and causing damage to the fountain in that way, and you won’t have to be concerned about winterizing.

There are really only a few things you’ll need to look out for if you leave your pump running all summer. Water levels will drop more quickly, and if you don’t keep them up there’s a chance your pump could burn out. The most important thing you can do to prevent that is to make sure the water levels stay higher than the pump’s intake.

Your electricity bill will also be higher when you leave the pump running constantly, raising the average cost of your fountain’s maintenance and upkeep. Some people turn their pumps off at night for this reason.


Having your pump running constantly in the fall can be a little tricky, but is totally doable so long as you are paying attention to the weather, and keeping up on maintenance. You shouldn’t be running your pump once the weather drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water freezes in your pump, there’s a good chance it will break, so it’s best to avoid that.

If you have your pond or other water feature around trees or bushes, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on the leaves as they fall. If debris (like falling leaves) get stuck in the pump through the intake, they can clog it, which could break the pump, and help the lack of moving water can aid the appearance of unwanted algae blooms or mosquito invasions.

Pumping Along

When you don’t have to worry about the weather posing a threat to the “health” of your pump, it is actually good for the pump to stay running. When it doubt, all you really need to worry about is the outside temperature, the water levels, and occasional maintenance. So long as all those things are in your favor, you should feel free to run your pump for as long as you want!

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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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