Copper Fountains and Metal Sculptures

Southwest, Traditional and Contemporary Designs

Handcrafted in Tubac, AZ since 1982




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Symptoms and Solutions

Symptom: Water flow is insufficient out of the top stem

Solution: Clean your filter.  If your filter is full of debris, your pump is working extra hard.  Take it off and wash it real well.  If you have a foam element that is more than 6 months old, you may want to replace it.  

Solution:  Re-adjust the flow     

  • Some pumps are equipped with a flow adjuster.  The Little Giant models PESA and PES100, and most Rio pumps, for example, have dials to adjust the flow up or down. Try moving the dial towards maximum.  

  •  If your pump does not have a built-in flow adjustment, loosen the metal clamp that secures the plastic feed tube over the copper feed tube at the base of your fountain and twist the plastic tube until the alignment of the two bypass holes results in the desired level of flow from the top of the fountain.  Here's how it works - the more aligned the holes, the less water comes out the top.  The more misaligned the holes are - the more water comes out the top.  The water should bubble nicely, but not so fast that it creates a problem with splashing.

click to enlarge

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Symptom: Water flow is sufficient out of the top (in fact, it's a little faster than usual), but it's not coming out of one or more of the other stems.

Solution:  Remove the debris in the non-working stem(s) 

Chances are, something is stuck in the non-working stem.  It could be debris that's gotten past the pump filter.  It could be mud-daubing or leaf-dragging insects to make a home there. 

  • The first step is to take a garden hose and put it over the plastic tube that usually connects your pump and fountain.  Turn the hose on to pressure it out.   

  • If that doesn't work, get a piece of  wire (preferably smaller than coat hanger wire) and gently swivel it down the tube from the top. As you work the wire down the tube keep your pump connected to the fountain and running to loosen the debris and apply upward water pressure as you break up the mass. The particles should emerge out the tube as you break up the particles with the wire. Be careful to not push the clog further down the stem and make it harder to get.   Be patient with this process.  It may take a while if something is really jammed in there.  

Symptom: Your pump is getting electricity, but not pumping water.

Possible Solution: Free the impeller

Sometimes - especially when the pump has been sitting dry and unused for a long period of time, any debris that has built-up under the impeller dries-up and keeps the impeller from moving freely.  In most pumps, you can push-start the impeller with an ice pick or nail. Pull off the strainer on the pump. Through the intake hole insert the nail or ice pick on an angle so it engages the impeller blade. With the pump plugged in gently turn the blade of the impeller. Sometimes the pump starts running.  

If you have a really big build-up, you may need to remove the casing around the impeller with a Philips screwdriver and REALLY clean underneath and around the impeller. If that's your case, be sure to remember the orientation of the volutes or your pump may not fit back the way it was.  Also, if there are gaskets involved, make sure they are well-seated before you tighten up the screws.

You can usually avoid this problem, by the way, by pointing the hose into the impeller area when you change the water. That will flush away any build-up.

Solution: Replace the impeller

Some pumps - PESA and PES100 in particular - have magnetic impellers.  You can remove and clean them off, but if the impeller is slipping up and down, making noise, or just not working, you can purchase a replacement impeller.  

Symptom: The base appears to be leaking

Solution:  Determine if there is a leak

Shut off the pump at night and mark your water level with a pen.  In the morning if it's at the same level, your water loss is due to evaporation or excess splash out.  There's not much you can do about evaporation, but if it's splash-out, you can adjust that.  Look at the indoor or outdoor set up pages.

If the water level has gone down quite a bit, remove the fountain, drain the base and put it up on some cinder blocks.  Fill it with water so you can then identify the exact location of the leak.

Solution: Repair the leak or replace the base

In a flat-sided base, there could be a crack in the weld.  That is repairable.  If it's a fluted base, there could be metal fatigue at the bend points. Most of the time, this is not easily repaired.  In either case, call us for specific advice.

FYI - to avoid leaks, handle your base carefully... don't drag it over concrete or rocks... don't use chlorine or other tablets that can eat through the copper....


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Lee Blackwell Studio

Copper Fountains and Metal Sculptures

18 Plaza Road . PO Box 4027 . Tubac .  AZ 85646

Telephone 520-904-2314