Installing fountain water feature with water supply or not?

jaxoAugust 24, 2013

I'm having a patio redone using flagstone and before the flagstone is put down, I need to decide whether or not a water line should be run to the location of a new vase/pot fountain designed to look as it is constantly overflowing with water so the reservoir would keep filled automatically. It won't add that much cost compared to the total cost of the work done, but I still wonder if it would be worth it.
Even though it would be more convenient to never have to fill the fountain manually with a hose, I wonder about the safety/reliability of having water pressure on all the time that would feed the fountain. If there was some kind of failure of the float that stops the water from continuously filling, it could flood the patio when I'm away. It may be just more complexity and more things to break.
On the other hand it would be nice to not have to refill the water that evaporates away. I have never had a fountain before so I have no idea how often I would have to keep adding water and if I forgot to refill the water by hand and it went dry, I assume the pump would be damaged if it was running with no water.
Anyone have experience with pros and cons of manual refilling vs having a waterline pressurized to refill constantly?

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marcinde(7)

I generally won't do an autofill for a water feature. Your concern is valid, but I have another one that I've seen happen. If you get a leak in the fountain, you won't ever know about it - till the water bill shows up. We had a client who only got a water bill quarterly. It was ugly.

Letting your pump run dry will kill it. You can either buy a pump with an auto shutoff, or you can buy an auto shutoff at a plumbing supply shop. The float goes in the water, and you plug the shutoff into the outlet and the pump into the shutoff. Fifty bucks will save a $200 pump.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 9:52AM
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jaxo

Maybe that will be best. It should be pretty easy to fill the reservoir with a garden hose. I assume I would not need to add water more than once a week or maybe even once a month and having an auto shutoff would prevent pump damage if for some reason it was not refilled on time..
My only remaining concerns are whether to get a remote switch to turn the fountain on and off as needed or just leave it running 24/7 even when there is nobody around to see or hear the fountain.

I will not be out on the patio more than a few hours per week, Maybe an hour after work 2 or 3 days per week and occasionally for a few hours on the weekend.
Leaving it on all the time will waste electricity and add wear if it runs 24 hours per day, every day instead of only around 7 hours per week, but the pump motor won't have to keep turning on and off and constantly moving water will keep mosquitoes out of it.

The winters here are mild with no frost "most" of the winter, but we do get several days during the middle of winter where it drops below freezing at night for at least a few days at a time, Low thirties to high twenties are common on January nights and temps dipping into the teens for a few nights per year during a cold snap is not unheard of.

Would keeping the fountain running 24/7 during winter prevent water in the pump from freezing in those temps?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 11:52AM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

I have a couple of fountains on project sites where they are never shut off.
One fountain is 13 years old and we have gone through 3 pumps in 13 years . The automatic re-fill is connected to the irrigation system and does on 3 times a week. There is a tiny ball valve at the end of the feed line so we can adjust the amount of water that feeds the fountain.
Works like a charm. 24/7 365 days a week.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 12:24PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

There are some variables that will affect the number of times per month that you will need to refill. I DIYed my water features and the bubbling rock which is very low to the ground with a 10 gallon reservoir needs monthly filling. The one that trickles over a concrete ball, also with a 10 gallon reservoir, sits higher and is subjected to more wind spray out and evaporation and has to be filled a couple of times per week.

We also rarely get freezes. My pumps run 27/7 unless we have days that the temps do not allow a thaw out, sometimes an 'ice dam' can form on top of the rocks an water flows out instead of back into the reservoir.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 12:27AM
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jaxo

If it needs to be refilled more than once a week, I would rather just use an autofill.
The landscape contractor was planning to install a dedicated waterline just for the fountain that would be on all the time, but I wonder if it can just tap into existing drip lines for the plants near it?
Instead of the water to feed the fountain being constantly pressurized, it would only be able to refill the reservoir when the timer is set to water the plants.
During the summer, the drip line timer comes on multiple times per day 5 days per week and during winter, it may be set to water only two days per week.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 10:56AM
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jaxo

These are the fountains I'm considering,

One is taller than the other, but both have similar size bases (about 2x2) and should take up the same amount of ground space. Both would be on the ground.
Does adding rock protect the water from evaporation water last longer or make it need refilling more often?.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 11:21AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

The rock is decorative. It covers the grate that holds your heavy pot above the reservoir.

Those are both really nice pots but if the water reservoir is all above ground, you will want the autofill option. Those appear to only hold a few gallons.

This post was edited by pkponder on Sun, Aug 25, 13 at 14:15

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 2:08PM
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jaxo

Wouldn't there be a reservoir holding more water inside the main body of these fountains?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 7:34PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I don't have the specs on these fountains and there should be a full pot of water to achieve the infinity edge, but your pump will probably be pulling from below the pot. The water fills the pot and trickles down the outside of the pot. It is caught by the container under the pot (and under the rocks and support structure) where your pump picks it up and starts the cycle over. This is where it's critical to maintain the water level.

Of course, that is merely what I am used to seeing. Maybe read the specs or ask the manufacturer for the exact details.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 7:52PM
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jaxo

This will be difficult to decide, I don't want to have to worry about leaks like the first person who replied said, but I also don't want to worry about burning out the motor if it runs dry. I also don't want to have to refill it with a hose more than a couple times per month in case I forget to turn it off before leaving town for a couple of weeks.
Now I'm a bit more inclined to go with the autofill and take my chances that it may leak someday. The water flow rate should be too low to have any concern for it flooding the patio since the faucet feeding the line should only need to be opened a crack to provide enough water to cope with evaporation.
Maybe there is a way to set the base so that it will be obvious if it develops a leak.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 8:24PM
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yardvaark

It would be relatively easy to scuttle (or just shut off) a dedicated water line if you decided down the road that the risk of its leaking was greater than you wished to endure, or if it actually leaked. On the other hand, it would not be easy or cheap to add a dedicated line if at some point later you decided you'd prefer that option. I would not tie the fountain-fill line to a drip zone. Doing so would only mean that IF a leak developed, it would be intermittent and therefore possibly more difficult to detect. If the fountain placement will be on a hard surface, it would be fairly easy to spot a leak.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 3:02AM
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