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Fountain Setup

Classic Rock Garden Ornaments Ltd.

Materials Needed

Supplied with fountain: clear plastic hose, black rubber plug (only for fountains where pump cord goes through the middle of the bowl); pump and “Sealox” water sealer (if you purchased these with the fountain)
To be purchased: plumber’s putty (building supply, hardware store), household Vaseline (drugstore, pharmacy), pump and “Sealox” sealer (if not purchased with fountain), and shims (e.g., pennies, washers, anything that can be used to progressively raise a fountain part by small increments)


  1. Test the pump to make sure it is operational. A kitchen sink filled with six inches of water is sufficient. Only plug the pump into the electrical socket after the pump is submerged. Running a pump dry will destroy it. Also, examine any control on the pump so that once the pump is installed, you will know how to increase/decrease the water flow. Removing a faulty pump is time-consuming.
  2. Touch up any scratches on the fountain pieces with touch up stain. Let dry.
  3. After ensuring that every piece of the fountain is absolutely dry (not in contact with rain/wet ground for several days,) water seal every piece with “Sealox” sealer. Be sure to cover ALL sides of every part, working methodically to ensure complete coverage.
  4. Prepare the area on which the fountain will stand. A concrete pad or gravel base is fine. Ensure that the area is packed down and reasonably level.
  5. Place the base of the fountain in the desired location and level it by shimming the bottom. If the fountain is on a solid surface, make sure the cord slot in the bottom of the base is pointed in the direction you desire.
  6. Place the large bowl onto the base.
  7. Use three people to install the pump. Have two people tip the large bowl and base together so that a third person can feed the pump cord down through the bowl and base to the ground. Then, reaching under the tipped base grasp the cord and pull it out from under the base, ensuring that the cord lies in the channel in the bottom of the base (otherwise, the fountain cannot be properly leveled.) When pulling the cord through, leave about eight inches between the pump and the inside of the large bowl.
  8. Make sure the walls of the white plastic pipe in the centre of the fountain (through which the pump cord passes) are clean. The black rubber plug needs to seat well into this pipe to prevent leakage.
  9. With some household Vaseline lightly coat all surfaces of the black rubber plug. Open the slit in the side of the plug and place the pump cord into the centre of the plug. Place the plug into the hole in the fountain bowl, thus making a watertight seal around the pump cord. Make sure the top of the plug is level with the top of the white plastic pipe and that the slit in the plug is completely closed. Add Vaseline to the top of the plug.
  10. Level the large bowl using either a 48-inch level or a straight board with a smaller level. Shims (pennies, washers, etc.) must be used under the bowl to get the top level.
  11. Place the pump housing into the large bowl and over the pump. Turn the opening so that the pump is accessible but the opening in the side is the least visible.
  12. Place the middle bowl onto the pump house pedestal.
  13. Take the ½ inch plastic hose and feed it through the middle bowl down to the pump. The hose should slide easily onto the nipple on the top of the pump.
  14. Using “plumber’s putty” seal the small area where the plastic hose does not completely fill the space through which it passes in the middle bowl. When the bowl fills with water, it needs to overflow at the edges, not trickle down the centre.
  15. Now level the middle bowl; shim as needed. Sometimes, merely rotating a bowl slightly will level it.
  16. Place the small pedestal into the middle bowl, sliding the plastic hose up through it as you put it into place.
  17. Place the small bowl onto the small pedestal, sliding the plastic hose up through it as you put it into place. Use the putty to seal this hole, too.
  18. Level the small bowl. Try rotating the bowl before shimming, as concrete casting is always inexact.
  19. Make sure the plastic hose is still attached at the bottom to the pump. Then cut off the top of the plastic hose, leaving about 4 inches sticking up through the small bowl.
  20. Make a roll of putty about 3/8-inch thick and about 6 inches long. Connect the ends to make a circle. Lightly press this ring of putty onto the bottom of the fountain finial (top piece.) Slide the finial down over the 4 inches of plastic hose causing the ring of putty to seal the finial into the small bowl.
  21. The “scuppers” are the indented areas in the edges of bowls over which the water flows. Put an extra coat of water sealer on the top and bottom edges of each scupper. This will help to ensure water falls from each scupper into the lower bowl, rather than running over the scupper and back under the bowl (never falling at all.)
  22. Fill the fountain with room-temperature water. Cold water poured into a warm fountain can cause the bowls to crack.
  23. Plug the pump into your source of electricity. Always use properly grounded circuits and extension cords.
  24. Adjust leveling of fountain bowls to gain uniform water distribution from scuppers, and adjust pump for desired water flow.
  25. Reminder: Fountain bowls and pumps CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO FREEZE WITH WATER IN THEM.

Adjustments Commonly Needed

  • Water does not flow evenly from scuppers around a bowl.
    a. Check each individual scupper to make sure no excess concrete is impeding water flow. Excess can be removed easily with a file or screwdriver.
    b. Adjust shims to even out the water flow.
  • Water does not flow out the top at all.
    a. Make sure the plastic hose is not kinked at some point and that water can flow freely from pump to finial.
    b. Reach into the opening in the pump housing, gently pull the pump to the opening and adjust the flow higher.
    c. Check to see if pump is correct size. Pumps are rated by the height they will raise a column of water. Under 24″ need P-60 to P-80; 24″ to 48″ need P-140 to P-210; over 48″ needs P-280 to P-380 or higher. Contact Classic Rock for accurate sizes. Remember, it is not the height of the fountain, but the height from the pump to the point where the water exits that must be measured.
    d. The ID (inside diameter) of the plastic hose also affects the height the water will rise. Any pump will push water higher in a 3/8″ hose than in a ½” hose, but more volume flows from a ½” hose.
  • Water flow is too heavy or fountain splashes too much.
    a. Decrease the flow control on the pump.
    b. Restrict the flow through the plastic hose. Many make-shift items will work, e.g., a nail bent into a “U” shape with the hose pressed inside it, a small hose clamp tightened around the hose, etc.
  • Large bowl leaks at plug.
    a. Make sure black rubber plug is pushed firmly into white plastic pipe in the large bowl, so that the top of the plug is level with the top of the pipe.
    b. If necessary, remove the water from the large fountain bowl (a wet/dry vacuum makes short work of this task), remove the black rubber plug and check with your finger to ensure the walls of the white plastic pipe are clean and free of cement. Clean the pipe (your fingernail is often enough), re-Vaseline the plug with cord and insert the plug into the pipe. When plug is seated properly (top of plug even with top of white pipe and slit in plug completely closed,) apply extra Vaseline to the top of the plug and the surrounding ¼” of white plastic and concrete. Ensure the pump cord is snuggly fitted and that the slit in the plug is tightly closed once seated in the pipe.
  • Top bowl(s) fills but never spills over into the lower bowl.
    a. Check to see if the water is actually running over the edges of a top bowl, but then running under the lip of the bowl. If so, several things can help.
    (1) Increase the flow of the pump.
    (2) Let the bowl dry and then apply “Sealox” Water Sealer to the scuppers (indentations in the top of each bowl over which the water flows.) The sealer encourages water not to “stick” to the concrete and not to then run under the bowl instead of falling properly into the bowl below.
    (3) When dry, apply a small line of clear silicone (common bathroom type from your building supply) about 3/16″ thick under each scupper right at the point where the water should fall. This small bead of silicone will force the water to fall over it and will be invisible when the fountain is running.
    b. If water is NOT running over the edge of the bowl at all, it is leaking through the centre around the plastic hose. Turn the fountain off and re-seal the hole in the centre of the bowl (between the plastic hose and the concrete) with more putty. It would not be wise to create a permanent seal (glue, silicone, concrete) as the fountain could not be disassembled for maintenance or moving.
  • The plastic hose that came with the fountain does not fit onto the pump I have purchased elsewhere.
    a. Plastic hose is manufactured in sizes that allow one size to fit snuggly inside the next larger size.
    b. Measure the nipple on the top of your pump. That measurement is the ID (inside diameter) of the plastic hose you need.
    c. Usually ½” hose is supplied with the fountain. If the pump needed 5/8″, all you need is a short length (4″) of 5/8″ hose from your building supply store. Insert that onto your pump, then place the ½” hose down inside the top of the 5/8″ hose to complete the assembly.
    d. This process can also work in reverse with 3/8″ hose.