Home » Checklist for Trouble Shooting Disappearing Fountains

Checklist for Trouble Shooting Disappearing Fountains

Has your fountain stopped working or doesn’t seem to have as much flow? Here is a list of things to check to see what may be causing the problem. 







  • Does the fountain have power/water?
  • If you don’t think you are getting power, check the GFCI by pressing the test and reset buttons on the outlet.
  • Use a hairdryer or other electric device to test the outlet. If it will not turn on, call an electrician.
  • If the outlet is working follow your pump cord to the trap door. Expose the trap door by removing the rock topping from the corner where the power cord for the pump comes out of the reservoir. Check to see if the tubing has come unattached from the fountain piece. If so, carefully re-attached.
  • Touch the pump. Is the motor running, but no water is coming out of the top of the fountain? If so, you have power but may have a problem with the impeller (see below for detailed instructions on checking your impeller.)


  • Check water level in the reservoir. Move rocks to expose grating & check water level. Water should be up to the grating & covering cinder blocks. If water level is low, you may also hear the pump sucking air. If you hear the pump or see that the level is low, add water.
  • Check for any blockage restricting the pump’s intake. Unplug the pump then expose the trap door to check the intake of the pump (black cage). Remove any debris from exterior of cage, & the throat of the pump intake. Turn pump back on to test flow. If this is not the problem then…
  • Check pump impeller. Unplug pump, remove trap door, disconnect pump from tubing by loosening the clamp, and slide tubing off of the pump. Remove the pump from the water. Remove screws on pump cover & carefully remove it to expose the impeller (magnet). Gently pull on the tip of the impeller to remove. Is it all in one piece? Are there missing blades or a cracked shaft? Is the magnet smooth or does it have grooves dug into it?
  • The impeller should be smooth, and in one piece. If the central shaft is broken, or there are grooves worn into the magnet surface, it’s time to replace the impeller.
  • Inspect the pump cover. Make sure that the center piece where the impeller tip fits into it is intact and not broken or cracked. In fact, the pump cover should show almost no wear what-so-ever (aside from maybe a little algae). If it does, replace the pump cover.
  • If your pump cover is broken and/or your impeller is worn out, also inspect the inside of the pump housing. Run your finger inside the pump where the impeller goes. The side walls should be smooth and free of debris. The cavity in the base of the housing where the impeller seats should be uniformly round and symmetrical. If the inside of the pump housing is “wallered” out, it’s probably time for a new pump. Refer to the Pondmaster Pump Maintenance Handout under “Nelson Know-How’ at nelsonwatergardens.com



  • This is most likely just algae, often green, brown, and even orange.
  • Simply take a soft scrub brush to remove existing algae (no steel/wire brushes).
  • Begin treating water/fountain with Fountec, a liquid algaecide. Water treated with Fountec is safe for birds, dogs, cats, and other creatures to drink, however it is not safe for fish or plants. Two days after the first treatment, hose off the fountain piece with a high pressure hose nozzle. The algae will come right off. At this point, regular treatments will keep it from coming back.
  • Treat once per week as directed on the bottle.
  • Do not use a chlorine-based algaecide as these are very hard on pumps & the finishes of fountains and will void any warrantees.


It is extremely unlikely that your reservoir itself is leaking. Below are the most common causes for excessive water loss.

  • First, check the flow rate. Is the fountain splashing water outside the edges of the reservoir? If so, then turn down the flow by adjusting the valve located on the pump, below the trap door in the grating.
  • No splashing? Check the foliage around the fountain area. Are leaves and other plant materials touching the fountain? If so, they are wicking water from the reservoir. Prune these plants back so they do not touch the fountain.
  • If the weather has been very windy and/or hot, the fountain reservoir will need to be filled more frequently.


  • Unplug the fountain.
  • Remove the standpipe (the PVC pipe inside the pot) with a slight twist to the right (when re-installing twist right as well) & tug straight up & out. This will drain the pot by allowing the water to flow through the hole in the bottom of the pot into the reservoir below; excess water will flood the reservoir and overflow into the surrounding area. Remember to add water back to the pot once you re-install the stand pipe to accommodate that lost/flooded water after all danger of freezing weather has passed.


  • When did you purchase your pump? Most of our pumps have a limited warranty period of 1-5 years from the date of purchase. If you purchased your pump from Nelson Water Gardens, we will have a record of it.
  • The use of bleach/chlorine will void your warranty! For algae issues, we recommend using Fountec weekly.
  • Have you cut the cord on the pump? If so, this will void your warranty.
  • Running pump dry will void your warranty.


Checklist for troubleshooting disappearing ftn