Submersible Fountain Pumps: Repair or Replace

Submersible fountain pumps play a pivotal role in ensuring the functionality and beauty of water features in gardens, parks, and other outdoor spaces. Designed to work underwater, they efficiently circulate and aerate water, creating soothing and appealing displays.

However, like any mechanical device, submersible fountain pumps may encounter problems over time, leading to diminished performance or even total failure. When this happens, a crucial question arises: Should you repair or replace the pump? To make an informed decision, it is essential to understand the engineering behind submersible fountain pumps, know how to identify and address common issues, and recognize the signs that indicate a need for replacement.

The Engineering of Submersible Fountain Pumps

Before diving into the decision of whether to repair or replace, it’s important to comprehend the engineering principles that underpin submersible fountain pumps. These pumps are crafted to function while submerged in water, effectively circulating water through different components to produce the desired visual and auditory effects. Here is a breakdown of the main components that constitute a submersible fountain pump:

Motor: The heart of the submersible fountain pump is its electric motor. This motor is designed to work underwater, with waterproof seals and insulation to prevent electrical issues and corrosion. The engine converts electrical energy into mechanical energy, which drives the impeller.

Impeller: Connected to the motor shaft, the impeller is a rotating blade or propeller responsible for drawing water in and expelling it through the pump’s outlet. The shape and size of the impeller determine the flow rate and head height the pump can achieve.

Housing: The pump’s housing encases the motor and impeller, providing protection and structural support. It also contains intake and discharge ports, which regulate water flow.

Shaft Seal: This critical component prevents water from entering the motor housing. A failure in the shaft seal can lead to motor damage and loss.

Cord and Plug: Order submersible fountain pumps as they have electrical cords and plugs designed for outdoor use. The cords are typically rated for water resistance and UV protection.

Identifying and Solving Problems with Submersible Fountain Pumps

There are many submersible pump benefits. Over time, submersible fountain pumps can develop issues that affect their performance. Identifying and addressing these problems is crucial in determining whether to repair or replace the pump. Here are some common issues and their potential solutions:

Reduced Flow or Output: If you notice a decrease in the flow rate or fountain height, the impeller or intake may be clogged with debris or algae. Visually inspect the pump and clean out any obstructions. Regular maintenance can prevent this issue. Impellers are typically housed beneath impeller covers, and different models have different methods of removing the cover.

Strange Noises: Unusual noises, such as grinding or rattling, may indicate a problem with the impeller or motor bearings. Cleaning the impeller or lubricating the bearings can often resolve these issues. However, if the noise persists, it may be a sign of internal damage that requires professional repair.

Leaks: Leaks can occur if the shaft seal is damaged or there are cracks in the pump housing. In such cases, replacing the pump rather than attempting a repair is advisable, as fixing the seal or accommodation can be challenging and may not provide a long-lasting solution.

Intermittent Operation or Failure to Start: Electrical issues, such as a faulty power cord or plug, can cause erratic operation or prevent the pump from starting. Check the power source and connections, and replace the cord or plug if necessary. If the problem persists, the motor may be at fault and require professional attention. In large ponds, snapping turtles or other critters may chew through the cord.

Overheating: Overheating can damage the motor and impeller. Ensure the pump is properly submerged, as running it dry can lead to overheating. If overheating continues despite correct operation, it may indicate a motor problem that requires replacement.

A well-functioned system is essential to prohibit the disruption of the pond ecosystem.

Knowing When It’s Time to Replace

While many problems with submersible fountain pumps can be addressed through maintenance and minor repairs, there comes a point when replacement is the more practical and cost-effective choice. Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to replace the pump:

Frequent Failures: If your pump requires constant repairs or stops working shortly after being fixed, it may be nearing the end of its lifespan. Repeated repairs can become costly and inconvenient.

Age: Submersible fountain pumps have a limited lifespan, typically 2 to 10 years, depending on the quality and usage. If your pump is approaching or exceeding its expected lifespan, it’s wise to consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.

Reduced Efficiency: As pumps age, they may become less efficient, decreasing flow rates and increasing energy consumption. Upgrading to a newer, more energy-efficient pump can save you money on operating costs in the long run.

Obsolete Parts: If you find it increasingly difficult to source replacement parts for your pump, it may be a sign that it’s time to replace it. Older models may have discontinued components, making repairs challenging or impossible.

Safety Concerns: If you suspect that your pump’s electrical components are compromised, or there are visible cracks in the housing, continued use can pose safety risks. In such cases, replacing the pump is the safest course of action.

Upgrading for Features: If you wish to enhance your fountain’s performance, add new features, or improve energy efficiency, upgrading to a more advanced pump may be the best choice. More recent models often come with improved technology and features that can enhance your water feature.

Regular Maintenance for Submersible Fountain Pumps

Maintaining submersible fountain pumps through regular upkeep is essential to ensure their longevity and peak performance. Routine maintenance can prevent common issues and extend the lifespan of the pump. Here are some key maintenance steps to follow:

Cleaning and Inspection: Regularly inspect the pump’s intake and discharge ports for debris, leaves, algae, and other obstructions. Clean the impeller and housing to ensure optimal water flow. A clean pump is less likely to encounter problems.

Water Quality Management: Water quality in your fountain can affect the pump’s performance and lifespan. Algae growth and mineral buildup can clog the pump and reduce efficiency. Consider using water treatments and algae inhibitors to maintain water clarity and quality.

Proper Installation: Ensure the pump is correctly installed at the appropriate depth within the fountain basin. Incorrect installation can strain the motor and lead to premature wear and tear.

Check Seals and Gaskets: Inspect the seals and gaskets regularly to ensure they are intact and prevent water from entering the motor housing. Damaged seals or gaskets should be replaced promptly to avoid motor damage.

Pump Repair vs. Replacement: Cost Considerations

When faced with a malfunctioning submersible fountain pump, cost considerations often play a significant role in repairing or replacing it. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Repair Costs: Assess the pump’s repair cost, including parts and labor. If the repairs are relatively inexpensive and the pump is still relatively new, it may be cost-effective to fix the issue.

Replacement Costs: Compare the cost of purchasing a new pump with the repair cost—factor in any potential savings from improved energy efficiency and reduced maintenance that a new
pump might offer.

Long-Term Savings: Consider the long-term savings of a new, more energy-efficient pump. While the upfront cost may be higher, you may recoup the investment through lower energy bills and reduced maintenance expenses.

Warranty: Check if your existing pump is still under contract. If it is, repairs may be covered, reducing your out-of-pocket expenses. However, remember that warranties typically have limitations and may not cover all types of damage.

Environmental Considerations

When deciding between repairing or replacing a submersible fountain pump, it’s essential to consider the environmental impact. Older pumps may be less energy-efficient and contribute to higher energy consumption, which, in turn, increases carbon emissions. Upgrading to a newer, more efficient pump can reduce your environmental footprint and contribute to sustainability efforts.

Professional Assessment

In some cases, determining whether to repair or replace a submersible fountain pump can be challenging, especially if you lack expertise in pump mechanics. When in doubt, seek the advice of a professional pump technician or a fountain specialist. They can thoroughly assess the pump’s condition and provide recommendations based on their expertise.


Submersible fountain pumps play a vital role in maintaining the beauty and functionality of outdoor water features. Understanding the engineering behind these pumps and the ability to identify and solve common problems is essential for their proper maintenance.

While many issues can be resolved through cleaning and minor repairs, there comes a point when replacing the pump is the most practical and cost-effective solution. Regular maintenance, proper care, and periodic assessment of your submersible fountain pump can help ensure its longevity and optimal performance, allowing you to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of your water feature for years to come.

Whether you’re facing issues with your submersible fountain pump or seeking ways to enhance your water feature, making informed decisions is essential. For more information, expert advice, and high-quality submersible pumps, explore our website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a submersible fountain pump in saltwater environments?

Submersible fountain pumps are generally not designed for saltwater use. The corrosive nature of saltwater can damage the pump components quickly. But there are exceptions, like pumps we offer made by Scott and Kasco. To use a pump in a saltwater environment, you should invest in a marine-grade or corrosion-resistant pump specifically designed for such conditions.

How can I winterize my submersible fountain pump?

To prepare your submersible fountain pump for winter, disconnect and remove it from the water feature. Thoroughly clean and dry the pump, remove any residual water, and store it indoors to prevent freezing and damage during the cold months. Scott does not require their pumps be removed during the cold months.

Can I increase the flow rate of my existing submersible fountain pump?

Increasing the flow rate of your submersible fountain pump may be possible by choosing a different impeller or adjusting the pump’s settings if available. However, there are limits to how much you can increase flow, and it’s essential to avoid overloading the pump, which can lead to premature failure. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines and consider upgrading to a more powerful pump if significant flow rate changes are needed. Remember that flow is limited by pipe or vinyl tubing width. Even very large pumps cannot produce much flow when tubing or piping is narrow. Likewise, nozzles reduce flow by nature. By how much depends on the nozzle design.

What safety precautions should I take when working with submersible fountain pumps?

When working with submersible fountain pumps, always disconnect the power source before performing any maintenance or repairs. Additionally, ensure that the pump is properly grounded and that electrical connections are secure to reduce the risk of electrical shock.