DEAR MIKE: I have a fountain in my yard that has stopped working. How can I fix it? -- Joelle R.
DEAR JOELLE: Here's a silly question -- is there any water in it? The pump may be operating (it's very quiet), but if there is no water in the fountain then there is no splish-splash.
Another easy thing to check is the electricity. Is there power to the pump?
Test for power at the source. If there is no power, see if the GFCI outlet has tripped. If it has, press the reset button on it to restore the power. If there is no power at the source, go to the main panel and see if the circuit breaker has tripped.
If you have power, then it's time to check the pump. This is the last thing to check because it's a real pain.
The pump is at the bottom of the fountain sitting in a pool of water. Needless to say, disconnect the power before you service the pump.
To access the pump, you have to disassemble the fountain. Most fountains have tiers with the water spilling down from the first tier to the second tier and so on. You have to lift off each tier.
The pump is in the bottom tier and has a hose that runs up to the top of the fountain through the middle of each tier. I recommend that you have some help lifting these off because they are heavy and cumbersome.
As you lift up each tier, be aware that the hose may be caulked into place so you may have to play with the hose to loosen it from each tier. As you remove each one, try to disturb the base of the fountain as little as possible. It is level, so if you mess it up, you will only add to the job.
When you finally reach the pump, pull off the hose and remove the pump. The cord will run through a hole in the base tier and will be held in place with a rubber plug. The plug prevents water from leaking out. Hit the plug out and remove the cord.
Take the new pump and thread the cord through the hole. The plug will have a slit in it, so wrap the plug around the cord.
Trying to put the plug back into the hole is like trying to put a 2-pound salami into a 1-pound bag -- it's a very tight fit because it has to keep water from dripping out. Rub petroleum jelly around the plug to make it go in easier.
Once you get the plug seated, place the tier back on the base and then set up the pump and attach the hose to it. I would buy a new length of tubing (longer that what you need) for under $5. You can trim it later.
Use a level and level the base and bottom tier. Set the level in different positions around the base to make sure the entire base is level.
Fill the bottom tier with water and hold the hose up in the air to the height of the completed fountain. This is the only opportunity you will have to adjust the pump without disassembling the entire fountain again. The pump has a dial on it to adjust how quickly the water spits out of the end of the tube. Rotate the dial until you are satisfied with the flow rate.
You will have to thread the hose back into the center of each tier as you place the tier on the fountain. Repeat the leveling process with each tier. If a tier is out of level, you can shim underneath it until it is level. You can also apply some construction adhesive underneath each tier to stiffen the fountain.
After you replace the last tier, apply some caulking around the tube to hold it in place and trim it just above the top of the fountain.