I have a fountain/stream setup in my front yard. Water comes out of the bottom of the fountain, goes through a stream, and at the end of the stream is a pump that sends the water back to the fountain through some plastic tubing.

This being an outdoor setup, there is a lot of dirt and debris which, despite my best efforts to keep the system clean, still finds its way into the pump and clogs things. One particularly common choke point seems to be where the outlet of the plastic tubing connects back into the fountain: Outlet of tubing into fountain piping

It's currently going in through a barb connector. It is very common for this to be clogged by even very tiny pieces of debris that get through the pump and get stuck at the tiny opening of the barb, reducing flow through the fountain to a trickle. The solution is to briefly disconnect and reconnect the hose, which I am presently having to do almost daily because little pieces of bark from my garden are getting into it. Removing the hose, you can see that the opening the water is going into is quite small:

Inlet of fountain for water

You can also see that the piping after it is quite wide, so there is really no reason the inlet needs to be that small. A better solution would be if I could somehow make the connector male on the tubing or otherwise have a wider opening so this was not a choke point. Any suggestions on how to do that?

  • 4
    Put a filter at the intake from the stream - aquashear is a good one. – Solar Mike Jan 24 at 17:08
  • 2
    I agree with @Solar Mike, also if you simply make the opening at that tee fitting larger, it would introduce that debris to your fountain and perhaps clog the fountain orifices. Increasing the tee inlet size won't help unless you run larger tubing, because the barbed connector would still be the same size... – Jimmy Fix-it Jan 24 at 17:30
  • 1
    I've had a water feature before. I used a pump with a washable filter. The filter would clog up fairly often but that's it's job. – Jeff Wheeler Jan 24 at 17:55
  • Apart from the good ideas in the answers (filters); change where in the pond the pump inlet water comes from. Site the inlet at a quiet part of the pond, and a couple of inches below the surface. – Polypipe Wrangler Jan 24 at 23:35
  • Also, you need to ensure that the filter is at the other end of the hose that's in your hand. Make sure the debris isn't getting into that tube in the first place. Filtering it here will still mean pulling the hose on a regular basis to clean the filter. If the filter is at the other end, it may be as simple as pushing the bark away from the inlet. – FreeMan Feb 1 at 15:34

Depending on the nature of the "fountain" - if it does not have small jets, then run larger pipe to it. If the output of your pump is all being driven through that tiny hose outlet, (which is my reading of what you wrote) there'a design flaw here someplace.

Otherwise, filters. You want a great deal of filter area so that it will continue to flow when partially clogged, so that you don't have to clean it too frequently. You definitely do not want the filters to pass anything small enough to clog the fountain jets, or any other part of the plumbing. You know full well it will have to catch a bunch of stuff, so make it big, which keeps the flow on any one section low. Then hose it out monthly or weekly or at whatever frequency it requires to maintain flow.


It occurs to me that you could take a page from rainwater collection systems.
Persons wanting to use rainwater from the roof deal with issues similar to yours. . Leaves wash off the roof. Dirt can be in the water.

rainwater collection system


Adapting this to your fountain: your stream ends with the top of the cistern (like a roof downspout ends with the top of the cistern). You would have a screen over your cistern. The screen would stop things like bark and leaves. The intake for the pump going back to the fountain is not at the bottom, but midway up in the cistern. Heavy stuff falls past the intake pipe and settles on the bottom (where you will periodically clean it out).

Water from the middle of the water column will be free of big stuff that landed on the screen and of small stuff which settled to the bottom.

You could install the cistern and screen in the ground at the bottom of your stream. You could even have it below ground level and have a little pool at the bottom of your stream which would look nice. Or if not, just have the stream end with the screen over the cistern.

I say cistern which implies a tank for holding water but for this purpose a large diameter piece of PVC would be fine since you will not be storing large quantities of water in it.

You can probably buy rain collection stuff off the shelf. You might get by with just buying the screen and then a capped section of large diameter PVC for your "cistern", then the pump you already own.

  • That is almost exactly the setup I have. The cistern in this case is a 12 gallon bucket buried on the ground at the end of the stream. There is a small pool above it with a grating at the bottom that goes through a hole in the lid. The pump is on the bottom of the bucket, but the intake is on top of the pump, several inches off the bottom. One issue I think is that the water level sometimes comes right down to the pump intake after clearing a clog or starting the system up, because the pump is quickly draining the cistern before water from the fountain has had a chance to get down the stream. – Joel Croteau Jan 24 at 19:30
  • I think filtration at the pump is the right answer here. I just need to figure out the best way to do that. – Joel Croteau Jan 24 at 19:31
  • Yes , a filter at the pump intake. Not too fine. And easy to clean. I have a similar set-up for a pond/stream. – blacksmith37 Jan 24 at 20:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.