How to Install a Fountain
LESLIE: Mitchell in Florida finds The Money Pit on WWBA. And you want to put a fountain in your yard. Do you think it’s going to be the fountain of youth, Mitchell?
MITCHELL: (laughing) I hope so because I want to make my wife happy.
TOM: (laughing) What a good man.
LESLIE: Which will make you younger.
TOM: That’s how it works. (laughing)
MITCHELL: Yeah. Hey guys, I need … I need your help. I’ve not had any experience doing this before. And I’ve got it on my honey-do list. She has two things she’d like done: a little fountain in the front by the sidewalk that goes to the front door; and a more complicated in-ground small fountain. I don’t have experience in doing either one of those things and I wondered if you could just get me started.
LESLIE: Well, I’ve done larger sort of water features where you dig out an area of earth in the shape of however you’d like your fountain area and your little lake area to be; whether it’s a small pond or a larger fountain feature. You can do that. And they get a lot … they sell a lot of kits at these home improvement centers. You can get a kit that includes a liner and the pump. And the pump is really all you need. You’ll be surprised how simple it is to actually make a water feature work.
And if you wanted to put one in the backyard that was a little bit larger, you would dig it out however you wanted, fill it with the liner and then what’ll you need is you’ll need a pump that’s going to shoot the sufficient amount of water to get however high up whatever your fountain is. Whether you’re just spraying the water up and out of the pond area, or whether you’re building it up in rocks and then having the water trickle down.
There … so there’s a variety of pump pressures. So you kind of need to sort of experiment with how much pressure you need to reach whatever it is that you want to create in your water feature. And they’re actually much more simple than you think.
MITCHELL: Let me … let me ask you one question; I’m sorry. Would you need a permit for something like that, do you think?
TOM: That’s a good question but that’s going to vary by town. Some places they’re going to ask for a permit …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Are you swimming in it?
TOM: It might, yeah. Some places might ask for it and some places might not. But you might want to place a call to your local code enforcement officer and maybe do it from your, like, neighbor’s house. (laughing) And say, if one were to put a fountain in one’s back or front yard, would one need a permit? Hypothetically speaking, of course. (laughing)
But listen, Mitchell, seriously. If you’re going to put those water features in and they’re going to run on pumps, you want to make sure that whatever circuit you run to power them, is ground fault protected. That’s a special type of circuit breaker that detects any diversion of current to a ground source and is especially important in that specific type of location. How old is your house?
MITCHELL: It’s six years old. And Tom, I’ve got power that goes to the front and to the back but it … I don’t think it’s what you’re talking about.
TOM: Okay. Well, there’s two ways to put that in. It could either be at the outlet itself; you could replace the outlet with a ground fault outlet. Or if it happens that both of those are on the same circuit, you could …
LESLIE: You could hardwire it.
TOM: You could replace the circuit breaker with a ground fault circuit breaker that protects the entire circuit.
TOM: That’s really important. You don’t want to take a chance on doing it any other way because … see, the way a regular circuit breaker works is it really detects heat. And you know, if the circuit’s a 15-amp circuit and you’re pulling 16 amps and it heats up, it trips off. But if you’re part of that circuit that’s heating up, you know you could be seriously injured or killed.
Now a ground fault detects a diversion of current to a ground source. In fact, if only 2/1000 of an amp goes to a ground source, it shuts it off instantly. And that’s not enough to hurt you. So that’s why that particular type of protection is important in a water location. Not only where you have fountains but your bathroom and your kitchen; even your basement and your garage.
Now, in a six-year-old house, I’m willing to bet you have some of those circuits now. If you don’t, they should be added to all those locations. And if you’re going to have an electrician in to do that, you might as well make your honey-do list for that guy up (chuckling) and get it all done at once. Even if he’s big and burly and weighs 400 pounds. Okay? (laughing)
MITCHELL: You guys, thank you so much. I wasn’t sure what to do and you gave me a great place to start. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Enjoy it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thank you so much for calling us 1-888-MONEY-PIT.