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I have very hard water where I live, and don't want to put in a water softener. When I had a cat fountain previously, it was a Drinkwell, and the hard water ruined the motor, literally. I saw a stainless steel one advertised - would that be better for hard water than a plastic one?
 

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If you had trouble with the motor, I doubt it would make much of a difference whether you bought a plastic or stainless steel housing. I think the motor used in plastic and SS ones are the same nonetheless.
I have a plastic one (catit flower, the small one). Since we also have hard water here, I've seen a build-up of hard water on the surface already after one month.
I'm actually just planning on buying some white wine vinegar to clean the housing and the pump. The pump has been making noises as if it were sucking in air (although the water level in the fountain was at a maximum). I figured it could be either because the filter was clogged up and restricting sufficient water flow, or the pump needs cleaning.
So I'll probably submerge the housing and disassembled pump in vinegar overnight, wash it and rinse it well tomorrow and change the filter.

I'll let you know whether cleaning the motor with vinegar helped.

How long did you have the fountain before the motor failed? How often did you clean the motor?
 

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I filter my water before I put it in my fountain. I’ve had my fountain for over 2 years. I think it makes the water smell and taste better for my little one.
 

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Update:
I soaked the housing and disassembled motor in vinegar for about 2h, gave it a scrub with a gentle sponge then rinsed it all under a stream, cleaned with mild dish-detergent and raised well again under a shower.

I have to say it seemed to work well, motor runs without making any noises again 🙂
 
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