How to Reduce Mineral Buildup in Fountains

Keeping water fountains free of mineral buildup improves their appearance.
Keeping water fountains free of mineral buildup improves their appearance. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Fountains create a sense of serenity and calm while adding an attractive focal point in a garden. Unfortunately, hard water stains and mineral buildup detract from the fountain’s appearance and can be hard to remove. Many effective chemicals can help remove mineral deposits, but they can damage fountain finishes. This is especially true of fountains made of marble, onyx, travertine and limestone. Avoid problems by learning how to reduce mineral deposits and when to clean the fountain. Stick to your cleaning schedule and go through the routine even when the fountain still looks clean. This will prevent your water from reaching a saturation point and depositing a large amount of minerals and sediment in the fountain seemingly overnight.

Things You'll Need

  • Wet/dry vacuum (optional)
  • Scrub brush
  • Soap
  • White vinegar
  • Measuring cup
  • Toothbrush
  • Distilled water

Empty your fountain completely and wash it once a month. A wet/dry vacuum will help with this task if your fountain does not have a built-in drain. Wash the fountain surfaces with a scrub brush and warm, soapy water.

Dismantle the pump according to the manufacturer’s directions and soak the parts in a solution of 2 cups of white vinegar for every 1 gallon of water. Use a toothbrush to dislodge any stubborn dirt. This vinegar solution can also be used on any stains on the rest of the fountain that the soapy water failed to remove during the fountain cleaning.

Fill the fountain with distilled water. If the fountain is large enough to make distilled water expensive or impractical, use water collected in a dehumidifier or gathered in a rain barrel. Unfiltered tap water is the worst water source you can use to fill your fountain when trying to avoid deposits.

Run the water pump in your fountain continuously except when cleaning it. The continuous water movement reduces mineral and sediment buildup and is easier on the pump than daily shutting down and restarting.

Tips & Warnings

  • It may be beneficial to have an in-line water filter installed when filling large fountains.
  • Large outdoor fountains can often be cleaned less frequently and may need to be cleaned only once or twice each season.

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