Water Feature Upkeep

Wayne Scheffer Sep 14, 2023
2 People Read

Water Feature Upkeep

If you are considering adding a water element to your project for that touch of elegance and tranquility, and you want the best opportunity for success, make upkeep and budget an early discussion point in the design process. All too often fountains and ponds become flowerbeds, simply because the maintenance staff is overloaded or the homeowner is not willing to expend the expense or energy once the water feature is in place. If you or your client are prepared to support your water element at all levels, maintaining a water feature can ensure its longevity and functionality. Here are some tips that will help you maintain the quality of your water feature. From cleaning and balancing water chemistry to preventing algae growth and winterizing your feature, these tips will equip you with the knowledge, techniques, and expectations needed to maintain a stunning water feature all year round.

1. Regular Cleaning

Cleaning your water feature is crucial to prevent the buildup of debris, leaves, and other organic matter that can clog pumps and filters. Use a skimmer or net to remove any surface debris and clean out the bottom of the feature using a vacuum. Regular cleaning will not only keep your water feature looking beautiful but also maintain optimal water quality.

2. Balancing Water Chemistry

Maintaining proper water chemistry is essential for the health of your water feature and its inhabitants. Use a water test kit to regularly check the pH, alkalinity, and hardness levels. The solids will remain suspended if the pH is kept between 7.4 and 7.6, and the hardness between 100 and 150 ppm. This will help prevent issues such as algae growth and keep your water feature thriving.

3. Preventing Algae Growth

Algae can quickly take over a water feature, causing it to look unsightly and disrupting the ecosystem balance. To prevent algae growth, consider adding aquatic plants that can compete with algae for nutrients. Use an algaecide or natural additives to control algae growth. Additionally, providing adequate shade and reducing organic inputs can also help keep algae at bay. Adding aquatic plants will require a bio-filter rather than a cartridge or sand filter as your filtration system. If you are not using a bio-filter system, algae growth is the first indicator of system imbalance, be it chemistry or mechanical. To attack an algae-cloudy water condition the general steps are, to verify the pump is getting its water from the bottom of the pool, direct return inlets down toward the floor, clean pump and skimmer baskets, clean the pool floor and walls, verify water chemistry is within limits, shock the pool, run the filter for at least 8 hours, verify water chemistry and adjust as needed. If the water is still cloudy use a clarifier or a flocculant. Last but not least, clean or backwash the filter. Treating algae is not a quick fix, it takes hours or even days to eliminate an algae problem. Swim University is a good resource to explain in detail the whys and what not to do in fighting algae.

4. Maintaining Pumps and Filters

Pumps and filters play a vital role in keeping your water feature clean and clear. Regularly inspect and clean the pump, removing any debris that may have accumulated. That debris adds organics to the water chemistry challenge.  Replace any worn-out parts as needed. Clean or replace filters according to the manufacturer's instructions to ensure optimal performance. Well-maintained pumps and filters will keep the water circulating effectively and maintain water clarity.

5. Winterizing Your Water Feature

If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, it's important to winterize your water feature to prevent damage. Start by removing any delicate plants or fish and relocating them to a suitable indoor environment. Drain the water from the feature, disconnect and store the pump and filter in a frost-free location. Cover the feature with a sturdy, breathable material to protect it from extreme weather conditions. Blow out all plumbing to ensure no water is available to freeze.

6. Monitoring Water Levels

You will need to routinely check and manage the water levels in your water feature if there is no method to keep the basin's water level constant. Evaporation, splashing, and leaks can cause the water level to drop over time. Depending on the size and design of your feature, you may need to add water more frequently during hot and dry periods. Keeping the water at the appropriate level will ensure the proper functioning of the pump and prevent damage to the feature.

7. Consulting with a Professional

If you're unsure about any aspect of water feature upkeep, such as controlling algae, it's always a good idea to consult with a professional. They can provide expert advice and guidance tailored to your specific situation. Whether it's diagnosing a problem, recommending solutions, or providing regular maintenance services, professionals have the knowledge and experience to help you maintain a stunning water feature.

You can make sure that your water feature lasts for many years as a lovely and useful addition to your outdoor area by paying attention to these suggestions. Maintenance of a water feature includes regular cleaning and maintenance, keeping water chemistry balanced, preventing algae growth, maintaining pumps and filters, winterizing, checking water levels, and when necessary, obtaining professional guidance. This is coupled with the understanding that along with your time, or the time for maintenance staff, there will be minor increases to your utility bills in addition to the cost of the chemical additives. It is crucial to budget accordingly and plan for these expenses to ensure the long-term enjoyment and sustainability of these stunning additions to any outdoor space.