Through my own personal experience, and from comments received from readers, a common thread seems to be that in many cases, poor maintenance of automatic water fountains = noise, leaks, and otherwise poor performance. While some consumers may just give up, assuming that these malfunctions are just another case of "planned obsolescence," the fact is that a diligent program of cleaning the various parts, including pre-filters, and replacing the filters when suggested by the manufacturer, can really extend the life of these automatic water fountains.
Take the Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain, for example. I bought one for Jenny, since the one we already had for the boys seemed to perform well. Therefore, I was shocked to be awakened at 3 a.m. a week later, to hear a noisy "sucking" sound coming from the fountain. I found that the water was low in the bowl, and checking the water reservoir, found it almost empty. I filled the bowl and filled and replaced the water reservoir. A bit later, I as awakened again by another sound. I snapped on the light and discovered to my horror that the bowl had overflowed onto the floor and water was flowing everywhere. I threw towels down to blot up the mess, and got a measuring cup and proceeded to empty the excess water from the bowl.
To cut the story short, the next day I retrieved the owner's manual and thoroughly read the instructions. Since my son had originally assembled the unit, I wasn't even aware there was such a thing as a "pre-filter," a small plastic screen mounted inside the back of the bowl. Its purpose is to trap the dust, cat hair and other debris which can clog the motor if allowed to pass through. I disassembled the Drinkwell, cleaned each part thoroughly, including the pre-filter, put it all back together, and it's worked like a charm since then.
- Read the Instruction Manual thoroughly before use.
- Practice disassembling and reassembling the fountain when it's new.
- Calendar and follow a weekly/monthly cleaning routine
- Learn the "trouble" sounds and thoroughly clean the suspect part when alerted.
A Note About Charcoal FiltersBecause charcoal filters often "leak" tiny charcoal granules into the drinking bowl, many people opt not to use them. If you choose not to use the filters, I highly recommend using bottled water in cats' automated drinking fountains, if you do not have a home water filtration sytem. Extremely hard water, such as often found in municipal water, may eventually cause damage to these fountains' motors.
Developing a familiarity with the inner workings of your automated cat fountain, coupled with a routine care and cleaning plan should ensure many years of service for these faucets. HostPAT, who posted a reader review of the original Drinkwell Pet Fountain, has had hers for over four years. She said, "I take it apart and clean it twice a week. Some people think it's hard to clean, but it really only takes 5-10 minutes. It helps to buy the set of small brushes they offer. Some people put them in the dishwasher - I hand clean mine."