Virtually every fountain—no matter how expensive, elaborate, or decorative—can be broken down into just a few critical parts: the pump, the water conduit (usually plastic tubing), and the water basin. Anything else you see in water fountains is there for the purpose of disguising these parts or enhancing the overall design.
When you purchase your water fountain, the necessary parts are usually included. However, at some point in time, you may find a need to replace a fountain part.
Every fountain begins with a pump. There's simply no way around it. Once you've adjusted to that fact, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how user friendly they are. Submersible pumps are small, simple, and reasonably priced (less than dinner for two at a nice restaurant). They work by pulling water in through an intake filter and pumping it up and out an opening. Since this process defies the laws of nature—gravity, in particular—the pump requires electricity as an energy source.
Submersible fountain pumps can be found online for the largest selection. Several features are important and can affect price. First, how high will the pump shoot water? The higher the shoot, the greater the cost. Since most indoor fountains are fairly small, there's no reason to spend the extra money on a pump that will shoot water 20 feet in the air. The smallest pump available will work just fine.
Second, notice the length of the cord. A short cord (12" or .3 m) really limits where you can display your finished fountain. Three to 5' (.9 to 1.5 m) is a much more versatile length. (Note: Unlike most other small electrical items, the cord on a submersible pump is not replaceable—doing so would destroy the cord's waterproof seal—so you can't purchase a short-corded pump with the intention of adding length at home.
Third, note where the water pressure switch is located. (Most pumps have two, if not more, different pressure set tings.) Some brands locate the switch on the electrical cord, instead of on the pump itself. In most fountains it doesn't matter where the switch is located, but if you're making a fountain in which the pump is difficult or impossible to access after a certain assembly stage, having the switch on the cord is a wonderful feature.
Water Fountain Conduits
Plastic tubing is used to move the water from the pump to the area you want it. Tubing can be found at any hardware store as well as in the aquarium section of larger pet stores. Many pumps do not give required tubing sizes, so you may need to bring your pump with you when you shop for tubing. It's generally very inexpensive and can be easily cut down to any length with a utility knife or sharp scissors.
You can experiment with several different tubing widths if you wish. The general rule of thumb is that the narrower the tubing, the greater the force will be exerted on the water, therefore the higher the stream. Also, you may find adapters that bridge the seam between the two pieces of different sized tubing. These adapters may be found in most auto supply stores.
Water Fountain Basins
There's a world of great basins out there, in all sorts of surprising materials and designs, just waiting to be discovered. Two of the most popular materials for water fountain basins are cast stone concrete and copper.
The last material that is found in water fountains is water itself. The water should not be too acidic as this can weaken the pump’s seals over time. Water temperature is another important consideration. Water fountain pumps need water to be between 32 and 98 degrees F. Extreme temperatures will also weaken the seals in the pump.
Water fountains, whether indoor or out, are fairly easy to care for. They do require a little TLC and cleaning from time to time but it is well worth it for the beauty they bring into your life.