Fix a Leaking Drinking Fountain



Introduction: Fix a Leaking Drinking Fountain

We have a refrigerated drinking fountain that was leaking. It dripped a little bit of water constantly, which gradually increased enough to make us shut it off. Since we are volunteers at a shelter, there's really no money for getting it repaired, and so I thought I would give it a try.

This is the fountain with the main covers removed.

Step 1: Look for Leaks

There were two places that were leaking. The first was what I am calling the prefilter. The second was the chilled water reservoir.

I had to carve away the foam to get access to the reservoir leak.

First, I tried to re-seat the copper tubing into the couplings. These types of couplings are able to be loosened by pushing the projecting ring inward, and simultaneously pulling the tube out. I did this a few times, and the leaks were not resolved. Something else was wrong.

I looked up "push fit tubing connector" online, and learned that this type of connector can be purchased. But the prefilter is not generally available, and the one integrated into the chilled water reservoir is obviously not going to be at my local hardware store, either.

Step 2: Learn More About the Problem

This is a "John Guest Brand" 1/4 inch tubing connector. It looks just like the leaky ones!

I bought two from the hardware store for experiments. I used a small saw and carefully cut one in half, to learn how they work.

The O-ring may be important, since it is what makes for a watertight seal.

Step 3: Replace the Clip and O-ring on One Coupler

The clip can be removed from the coupler with a little care. I bent a paper clip to use as a hook, and bent the flanges of the clip to clear it from the coupler. The clip can be removed intact and undamaged.

Similarly, the inner O-ring can be fished out.

First, detach the copper tube from the coupler. I am starting with the one on the prefilter, because it has better access.

Next, carefully remove the clip from the coupler. I did this with a newly purchased coupler, and with the leaking one.

Step 4: Remove the Old O-ring

I used a paper clip hook to do this. It worked pretty easily.

I could tell that the old O-ring was very stiff.

I also extracted the new clip and O-ring from the coupler I purchased.

Step 5: Insert the New O-ring and Clip, Then Insert the Tube Again.

I turned the water back on, to pressure-test the coupler. It held tight, and did not drip anymore!

Step 6: Do the Same Replacement on the Other Coupler

This was harder to do, because there was so little room to work in. I finally disassembled more of the drinking fountain to get a clear shot at the parts.

This turned out to be important, because it took a fair amount of pressure to insert the copper tube again.

Step 7: Done!

No picture, sorry.

But it is not leaking anymore, so that's good. Unfortunately, it turns out that the drain pipe is clogged somewhere downstream in the wall, so I'll have to run a snake through it. But that's work for another day.

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    5 weeks ago on Step 7

    Wow! You did your research and came up with a good solution. Kudos for hanging in there and not giving up when the project became more challenging than you had anticipated. I'm betting the shelter folks are really glad to have you around! :-)


    Reply 4 weeks ago

    I also built a doorway and installed double doors, because the warehouse is too big to affordably heat the whole thing. There were several store rooms with built-in shelving that I dismantled, and then used the wood to make a dozen shelf units that could be moved into different places for storing cleaning supplies, clothing, and travel kits for the refugees. It was fun work.