How to Repair a 3 Tier Waterfall Fountain

Knowing how to repair a three-tier waterfall fountain can restore your fountain for years of enjoyment.
A three-tier fountain beautifies your garden.
Common problems include flow issues, leaks, pump problems and cracks in the tiers. Depending on the style of fountain, its materials, its age, how it's maintained and the climate, the fountain may develop only minor problems, if any. Basic repair techniques might take care of common fountain issues, but in some cases professional repair may be required. .

Step 1

Turn the fountain on to check the nature of the problem if you aren't already sure. Examine each tier for leaks or cracks. Notice any areas of uneven water flow. Check for dark areas on the ground -- this can be a sign of leaks from hairline cracks in the fountain's bottom tier.

Step 2

Turn the fountain off. Drain the fountain by opening the drain if it has one. Use a bucket to bail out any remaining water.

Step 3

Clean each tier of the fountain to remove mineral buildup. Hard water is a common cause of pump malfunctions and flow problems in outdoor fountains. Use a rag to apply white vinegar to help remove mineral deposits. Scrub the fountain surfaces with a stiff bristled brush dipped in vinegar to help remove algae and any remaining mineral residue.

Step 4

Use a pipe cleaner to clean the waterfall outlet points. Rinse the fountain tiers and pat dry with a towel or rag. Allow to dry for at least an hour, depending on the weather.

Step 5

Remove the fountain's pump. Depending on the style of fountain, there may be an access panel near the base of the fountain. In other cases, you may need to disassemble the fountain by lifting off each tier until you reach the pump in the center of the bottom tier. Gently pull the tube out of the pump and remove the pump.

Step 6

Soak the pump in a bucket of white vinegar, with enough vinegar to fully cover the pump, leaving most of the power cord out of the bucket. Leave the pump in the vinegar for at least 12 hours. This helps to dissolve minerals in the pump. Rinse the pump under a faucet to flush out any remaining debris. Reattach the pump to the tubing and put it back in its original position, but don't turn it on.

Step 7

Leave the fountain off and empty and allow it to dry fully if there are any leaks or signs of damaged grout or sealant below the tiers. Depending on the weather and the fountain material, it may take a week to dry.

Step 8

Apply silicone sealant to seal damaged grout or sealing material, such as in tile fountains or for cracks in a resin or fiberglass fountain. Use a masonry sealant product to patch cracks in the tiers of a concrete fountain. Spread the the product evenly and allow it to dry fully. Don't apply the sealant to a wet surface or it might become cloudy and damage the appearance of the fountain.

Step 9

Refill the fountain with water once the repairs have dried. Turn the pump back on. If the water flow is low, the pump makes excessive noise or the pump doesn't run, replace the pump. If the waterfalls don't flow evenly, check whether the bottom basin and the tiers are level. A fountain that isn't level doesn't circulate water evenly. Reposition the fountain base to make it level, and then adjust the position of the tiers, if possible.

Things You Will Need

  • White vinegar
  • Utility bucket
  • Stiff-bristled scrub brush
  • Old towel or rags
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Clear silicone sealant, if needed
  • Clear masonry sealant designed for full immersion, if needed
  • Submersible pump, if needed
  • Carpenter's level


  • Work on the fountain on a warm day, if possible, if you need to repair grout or cracks. The repair products dry faster in temperate weather.
  • If you paint a fountain, use marine paint. Other kinds of paint won't hold up under prolonged water contact.
  • Take the pump with you to find a replacement at a garden center or pond supply shop.
  • Minor surface cracks don't require sealant. It's normal for concrete and certain stones to develop cracks.
  • Empty the fountain and remove the pump before freezing temperatures arrive.
  • Use a rag instead of a cleaning brush if the fountain has a surface that might be prone to scratches.


  • Get help with handling heavy parts of the fountain. Concrete or stone fountain tiers can cause serious injuries if they fall on your foot or hand.
  • Never allow the fountain to run dry. Running without water will burn out the pump.

About the Author

Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.