How Wall Fountains Work

The Mechanics of Wall Fountains

If you assume that wall fountains and complicated plumbing go hand in hand, think again. Wall fountains don't waste time with those sorts of issues. Instead, they employ a system of re-circulating water, which, as you will see later on, helps makes installation and upkeep quick and straightforward.

Here's how the re-circulating system works: Wall fountains have a reservoir at the base. Before you turn on the fountain, this reservoir must be filled with the recommended amount of water. Bear in mind that it's important to get the amount right, because it determines both the fountain's noise level and the amount of splashing that occurs.


Submerged in the now-full reservoir, you'll find the fountain pump. This pump is usually a magnetic drive pump powered by a standard North American 110-volt connection, but its size and power will vary depending on the size of the fountain. Sometimes the pump comes along with the fountain kit, but sometimes it needs to be purchased separately. Water pump power is measured in average gallons of water output per hour. For a medium-sized indoor fountain, the pump usually needs an output of 100 to 200 gallons per hour [Source: Water Gallery]. Despite being powered by electricity, these pumps are designed to operate safely in water because the motor itself is sealed off from the liquid.

Most water pumps feature an impeller, a small wheel with blades or vanes somewhat like those found on a windmill, and fountain pumps are no exception. In a magnetic drive fountain pump, the pump's motor and impeller are not directly connected. Instead, the motor is connected to a "driving magnet," and a "driven magnet" is attached to the impeller. These magnets are aligned to create a strong magnetic attraction. When the motor power spins the driving magnet, this attraction causes the driven magnet to rotate, too.

The spinning of the driven magnet turns the impeller, which forces the water from the reservoir up into tubing that runs up the back of the fountain and connects the pump to the "head" of the fountain, or the place where the water leaves the tubing and tumbles back down the wall fountain's flat surface before collecting once more in the reservoir.

This cycle repeats itself continuously, which allows the fountain to recycle its water supply.

However, it takes more than an electric outlet and a jug of water to keep a wall fountain running in tip top shape. As you'll learn, even the simple and subtle wall fountain needs a little TLC now and then, and it starts with proper installation.