Water Features- Cleaning and MaintenanceSelf-contained water features are a wonder for those of us (read: all of us) without the financial clout to employ handymen, gardeners and other such wizards to take care of our interior and exterior extravagances; they rarely need topping up, don’t run up giant bills, run when we want them to and generally cheer up the place or wow the neighbours without requiring a great deal of attention. They do have their own, unique set of issues, however; and may become something of a mucky mess if neglected entirely
Water Feature Algae ControlFirst off, recycling the water used in the feature is great in a lot of ways; it keeps costs down, is better for the environment than a traditional plumbed fountain and it requires very little maintenance. However even when the water is constantly moving and re-circulating, algae build up caused by exposure to the sunlight can start to turn the water an unpleasant green colour and, if left to thrive, will leave your otherwise delightful granite water feature smelling pretty unpleasant too. This is a particular problem with solar features as they require a sunspot to operate at their best and this is playing right into algae’s slimy hands. Changing the water frequently is one, rather labour-intensive way, of keeping algae and other bacteria to a minimum, but is not entirely practical and so we’re blessed that companies such as Kelkay have come up with a range of products to keep features at their best. Algae killer solutions come in a number of forms, from long lasting solutions to keep algae down such as Kelkay Algae Stopper to one-shot algae bombs Kelkay Algae One Shot that will clear away a stubborn infestation in a single swoop and Kelkay Grime and Lime Cleaner. Despite their sinister names, these products are generally safe for people and animals (fish excepted) but do check the label beforehand.
The pump in your water feature is perfectly happy with green, algae-filled water (even if you aren’t) as it is tiny enough to pass easily through the pump. Faced with debris of a larger size such as leaves, however and, lacking the filters of larger pond equipment, the little pump may begin to struggle. If you’re planning on placing your feature under a tree or somewhere else that it may attract a lot of debris, consider covering any gaps or holes in the feature with a waterproof grill netting – this will ensure that anything getting into the water is sufficiently small for the pump to deal with. Limescale, a plague sadly not restricted to ancient kettles, can also become an issue for water features, particularly in areas with hard water. Again, specific fountain cleaners are available that will keep your feature gleaming without the risk of stripping paint, melting plastic or otherwise damaging it. In particular, avoid usage of harsh cleaning products such as chlorine bleach when dealing with stainless steel or other metals as this will tarnish the finish, instead use a mild soap detergent in solution with water.
Water Feature Frost ProtectionFinally, one of the most important steps in keeping your feature at its best (or in some cases, intact!), is to ensure it is properly cared for throughout the punishing winter months. Even granite, which has a reputation for its strength and durability, can suffer serious damage from cold and freezing weather if steps are not taken to prevent this. The very first thing to do is to drain the water from your feature – this stops it from freezing inside the feature which can cause anything from a hairline fracture to a gaping hole that leaves your fountain in pieces. Once this has been completed, if possible – take the feature inside, even if it’s just to the relative safety of the garden shed: this will further reduce the chance of the feature freezing. For large or heavy features it is generally impractical to store them inside and so a water feature protection cover is suggested. A good cover will enclose the entire feature and drawstrings at the bottom should ensure a close fit; making sure your feature is snug until the sun comes back out. Kelkay Winter protection cover Sticking to these few, simple rules should keep your water feature sparkling, efficient and ensure it looks and performs at its best for the longest period possible.
Posted by David Hellowell
Water Features 2 Go is one of the UK's leading online Water Feature retailers and stocks a huge range of pond pumps, pond liners, fountains and Water Features