Nelson waterers/fountains are horrible - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 13 Old 10-03-2009, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4
• Horses: 0
Nelson waterers/fountains are horrible

This is my horror story about installing Nelson fountains in our brand new horse barn.

We did a lot of shopping around for the best fountains for our barn. We live in Minnesota so we need fountains that don't freeze and don't leak. When we researched fountains, Nelson's fountains were advertised as being indestructible and wouldn't freeze. And a lot of zoos installed them, so if they were good enough for zoos, then we thought they would be good for us.

We were dooped! We bought 5 Nelson fountains; 1 outside stand alone model, and 4 side by side, stall mounts. We had them professionally installed by a plumber, but from the first day, they leaked, and they were extremely difficult to set up.

The problem with the Nelson fountain is you need to have baby hands to work on them. The inside of the guts of the fountain are burried inside, so you can't adjust them to fill the bowl for your horses. every time you want to adjust them, you need to take out the bowl, and spill all the water onto the hot plate and electrical box. It's a miricle i've never been electricuted.

The Nelson fills by tipping a bowl back and forth and when the horse drinks, it tips back until the water fills it up and the weight of the water in the bowl tips it and shuts off the valve. This is a major design flaw because there is virtually no adjustment to the way it fills, and the level of water you want in the bowl. In the winter time, you don't want the bowl filled because it will freeze much easier because the water can't get hot enough.

And then there is the crappy valve that nelson uses. it's a plastic "pin" type valve that sticks and you need to keep it lubricated with Valseline. I called down to the "Technical Support" and I was pissed off that my fountains were leaking all over my stalls, and the guys said i needed to lube the valve with Vasaline. Are you kidding me? $600 bucks for a fountain, and Vasaline is what makes it work?

Then the guy said my water is to hard for the fountain to work properly. We live in the country, like 98% of horse barn owners do and everyone's water is hard. Apparently they never designed their valves and system to handle hard water.

Needless to say, I hate my Nelson fountains. If this story helps anyone who is thinking about installing one, please don't! Buckets and pails are much less hassel, and much less expensive.
King Korn is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 13 Old 10-04-2009, 10:58 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: SE Kansas
Posts: 10,620
• Horses: 5
Thanks for the review. We have often thought of installing them but just never did. Guess I'll stick with my frost free hydrants and a tank heater.
Unbelievable, the part about the hard water. A good majority of people use well water at their barns (I do). Not many have a water softener hooked up for the livestock

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
Vidaloco is offline  
post #3 of 13 Old 10-04-2009, 01:26 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 301
• Horses: 1
Thank you for the info!!! I was considering the Nelson for my barn! That is one mess I would not need - I am in the country with a well - oh my goodness - that might not have been a smart move on my part!
Sorry for all your trouble and frustration!
Luv 2 Trail is offline  
post #4 of 13 Old 10-06-2009, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4
• Horses: 0
Here is the latest update on my Nelson fountain...
Last night my 2 year old palamino gorgeous gelding got the top cover off of the Nelson fountain. He somehow cut up his entire knee on the sharp edge of the fountain. We went out to the barn before bedtime to throw hay and check on them, and both his front legs were bloody and the G** D*** lid was off the Nelson waterer.

My Queen is going to the Vet now to get gauze, wraps, penecillin, etc. Now our perfect showmanship champ will have a big ugly scar, but he should heal ok.

I'm going to rip out all 3 of the rest of my Nelson waterers and put in Richie's and use heated pails.

Please DO NOT use a Nelson!!! If you have one, and you have show horses, you are taking a major risk of injury!!!
King Korn is offline  
post #5 of 13 Old 10-06-2009, 12:00 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: SouthEastern PA
Posts: 1,740
• Horses: 2
I would ask for my money back, or threaten to sue. That sounds like a hazardous product, for people and horses.
sillybunny11486 is offline  
post #6 of 13 Old 10-06-2009, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4
• Horses: 0
Originally Posted by sillybunny11486 View Post
I would ask for my money back, or threaten to sue. That sounds like a hazardous product, for people and horses.
Yes, i'm going to do that today. But in the meantime I want to spread the word that Nelson Water fountains are dangerous.
King Korn is offline  
post #7 of 13 Old 11-20-2011, 02:53 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 1
• Horses: 0
NELSON WATERERS - best I have seen of many

I joined this forum solely to rebut King Korn's testimony. I have nothing to gain from this post and have no affiliation with Nelson Manufacturing. I felt compelled to share my experience with Nelson Waterers to rebut the unbelievable post from King Korn and "sue happy” Silly. I found the comments from King Kong so far from my experience I would speculate that King may work for or sell a competing product.

I am a general contractor who has built about 25 horse barns in the last 15 years. I have found nelson waterers to be one of the finest engineered pieces of equipment of any type to be used in a horse barn. I always recommend Nelson but am open to anything my customer’s request. I have seen and installed many of the alternative waterers . . . Richie’s, Mirafont, geothermal type, and other cheepos. Nelson’s are the best value, most maintenance friendly, most problem free, and best looking water available.

My wife is a horse trainer and the first anniversary gift I gave her was a Nelson Waterer @ our small farm in WI. I installed it myself and the best testimony I can give related to our experience is my wife repeated proclamation that it is the "best anniversary gift she has received in 15 years."

I have personally installed or general contracted at least 30 waterers and have never had a problem beyond a plugged filter or a valve that needed to be replaced (easy repair) after 8 years.

KING KORN’S POST (point by counter point)

*"The problem with the Nelson fountain is you need to have baby hands to work on them"
- My experience: This is the only down side I see to these waters but it is also what makes them energy efficient and attractive. Buy the larger 16” model option rather than the smaller 13" model, no matter your herd size. The compact size presents a challenge during installation that is well worth it considering its fair price for 100% stainless steel housing.

*"The inside of the guts of the fountain are buried inside, so you can't adjust them to fill the bowl for your horses"
- My experience: After installation there is little reason to access the area under the bowl and if installed properly the size is not a problem.

*"Every time you want to adjust them, you need to take out the bowl, and spill all the water onto the hot plate and electrical box"
- My experience: The adjustments points are easy to access; the valve can be locked in the closed position when removing the bowl, no problem with water spilling from the bowl when removing it.

*"It's a miracle I’ve never been electrocuted"
- My experience: if you are concerned about getting electrocuted from a Nelson water you should also avoid plugging in a table lamp.

*”Here is the latest update on my Nelson fountain...”
- My experience: all right this is where the story got good and led me to spend 1 hour writing this post with nothing to gain. Before this portion I was surprised but sympathetic that maybe your professional installation was not all that “professional” The following statement leads me to believe you have an agenda against Nelson and for a competitor.

*”Last night my 2 year old palomino gorgeous gelding got the top cover off of the Nelson fountain. He somehow cut up his entire knee on the sharp edge of the fountain. We went out to the barn before bedtime to throw hay and check on them, and both his front legs were bloody and the G** D*** lid was off the Nelson waterer.”
-My Experience: this just isn’t possible. The latch to remove the cover and bowl is spring loaded, very small, and well secured. I don’t think the best trick pony @ the circus could get a secured lid off. Then “G**D***”? You lost all credibility with this. Go to church and pray to God instead of cursing him in chat rooms. Maybe then you would not have such bad luck.
wk4coffee likes this.

Last edited by barn builder; 11-20-2011 at 02:55 AM. Reason: add title
barn builder is offline  
post #8 of 13 Old 11-20-2011, 03:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 4,648
• Horses: 6
Not a manufacturer, not a company owner, but someone with horses, a barn, and Nelson waterers.

There were a few small installation problems in the beginning, but they were worked out easily enough, and you absolutely can adjust the amount of water you want in the bowl. The lids require a human with opposable things to get off--no way a horse could do it. The heater seems to work pretty well, but when it's super cold and windy the outside waterer has had a thin layer of ice develop on it (nothing the horses couldn't easily break with their muzzles, but we only have mild to moderate winters here, too). The waterers have not broken down and require no maintenance, except for when the builders who put them in wired them wrong and caused our horses to get a shock every time they got a drink....but you can't blame that on Nelson.

My only real complaint would be that it's hard to clean the interior under the bowl. I have a gelding who is a hay-dunker, and there's always goop and grass bits under there by the heater, which worries me about a fire hazard. Got any advice for that, barn builder?

Other than that, compared to the rest of my (albeit limited) experience with other waterer brands, Nelson seems like a good, sturdy, user-friendly product.
wk4coffee likes this.
bubba13 is offline  
post #9 of 13 Old 12-01-2012, 08:41 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 17
• Horses: 0
I was looking for some tips on water level in my nelsons and also felt the need to defend the product from king korns attack. I, too, find the space for working on these a little tight and annoying but most of the other complaints are not fair. I have two of theblarger 16 diameter waterers for 6 years now. Just this year the heating element in one failed. The replacement was 48 bucks and not too bad of an install. The waterers have never frozen and i live in northeast iowa known for brutal winters. One waterer is attached to the outside wall of the south side of the barn. The other just inside an open stall of the barn, near a door. They are extremely sturdy. Your horse that cut himself sounds like a freak accident. The lids would be nearly impossible for a horse to remove. If removed, the steel wall is very thick so the edges are not sharp at all, but with pressure i could see them being unyielding therefore causing injury. No fault of the design however. To avoid freezing you need a deep well for geothermal effect, the nelson issue insulated pvc with the recommended air space, and air leaks sealed off in the outer enclosure. My outside waterer is not in the sun, it is in shade all day but the water in the bowl is tepid to my bare hand even on 40 below windy days. My horses love them. I installed mine at the highest recommended height to avoid crapping in them and this is probably a safer height also.
Zubiedoobydoo is offline  
post #10 of 13 Old 02-19-2013, 10:53 PM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1
• Horses: 0
Nelson waterer

I would like to find someone in the northern Indianapolis area that has experience with repairing Nelson waterers. I had them installed in my barn when I built 3 years ago as we'll as in the pastures. I have several that are not working correctly and I have tried everything that tech support recommended. I even used the repair person they recommended but 2 trips and 750.00 later no success! I love the product when it works but need some assistance.
waynuf is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Horrible, horrible news 1dog3cats17rodents Horse Grooming 26 07-21-2009 07:19 AM
What breed is Nelson? Ruby Tuesday Horse Breeds 23 12-20-2008 05:29 PM
Nelson came home (pic hvy) Ruby Tuesday Horse Pictures 10 12-16-2008 04:29 PM
Automatic waterers in Minnesota? Eagle eye 1 Barn Maintenance 15 12-14-2008 04:28 PM
Nelson Ruby Tuesday Horse Breeds 4 12-05-2008 12:35 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome