Pond or Lake Fountain Troubleshooting

TriTier Floating Fountain

A great additional tool to have in your toolbox is the Fluke Leakage Meter. This meter not only measures amperage, but also measures leakage to ground (mA) which is what trips GFI breakers. This greatly helps taking the guess work out when troubleshooting a fountain motor, fountain lights, and even air compressors and most of all helps reduce return trips to further troubleshoot.

GFI breakers trip approximately around 5mA for personal protection. Typically, new equipment is at 1.0 mA or less at installation.

To take a mA reading:

  1. fluke leakage meterMake sure the meter is switched to mA
  2. With the power off, put all load wires through the clamp and leave the ground outside the clamp.
    • 120V circuits: both the hot and neutral go through the clamp
    • 230V single phase compressors: both hot wires go through the clamp
    • 230V single phase and three phase fountain motors: All three leads go through the clamp
    • Again, ground does not go through the clamp for all of the above examples.
  3. Turn the power on and take the reading.
  4. Breakers trip around 5mA. If the reading is 3.5 mA or higher, chances are the motor or compressor will trip relatively soon.
  5. If you are troubleshooting fountain lights, and get a reading of 3.5mA, most likely there is water in the fixture. Remove the water and dry the fixture and retest. If the mA reading dropped significantly, then you are good. However, it it’s still high you may have further troubleshooting ahead.
  6. Breakers do go bad. It’s the worst feeling when you take the time and effort to replace a fountain motor, only for the breaker to trip after the repair. During the initial troubleshoot, take a mA reading. If it’s low, maybe the breaker is defective.

These are just a couple examples of how the mA meter can greatly assist during the troubleshooting process, reduce return trips, and be able to repair the equipment right the first time.

Contact us today to learn more about fountain troubleshooting.


Vertex Aquatic Solutions, founded in 1977, is the professionals’ choice for research based scientific consulting services, aeration systems, floating fountains, bubble curtains and biological products to enhance water quality in lakes, ponds, canals, marinas and reservoirs. As respected leaders in the lake management industry the Vertex team of aquatic biologists, limnologists, fisheries scientists and engineers work together to deliver science-based, environmentally sound solutions to complex waterbody issues. Our products and services are delivered through an international network of qualified, experienced waterbody professionals who provide local support, service and pond management expertise to customers.

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