Architectural water features are indisputably vital parts of our cityscapes, and as such, require proper and regular care. From design and installation to maintenance and upkeep, it is important that developers, property managers, and contractors all work together in order to make these installations thrive. One of the key seasonal requirements of water features revolves around the process of winterization.
During the cold winter months, temperature changes can have profound effects on the mechanisms that keep your water feature running smoothly. The expansion of freezing water alone can be severely detrimental to a fountain’s structure, so it is important that the proper measures and guidance are put in place in order to prevent disaster.
The winterization process is intended to protect the basins, pipelines, control valves, and structure in general. Just as schools shut down during wintery conditions, many outdoor water features must too, or have seasonal measures put in place. Knightsbridge’s maintenance team has assembled a set of specific procedures intended to address the unique needs of each project so that they can effectively weather the winter storm. Although each water feature has specific requirements, the general steps include:
1. Drain: When liquid water is cooled, it contracts, then rapidly expands. This change, which is onset by temperature triggers, can cause the volume to grow by as much as 9%. With water features, this growth leads to a myriad of issues including ruptures, leaks, and tears.
In order to address these problems before they occur, our technicians ensure that all water is drained from pools, pipes, and essentially any vessel that may carry water. As part of the drainage process, we also utilize tools such as compressed air devices and water pumps to clear excess water from pipes and water lines.
2. De-Construct: After the water is removed, various components of the water feature should be dis-assembled. This ensures protection not only from the elements, but from thieves as well. In most cases, all lighting fixtures are removed, and all electrical wiring is disconnected in a safe manner from the main junction box.
From here, things can get a little more technical, as the de-construction may involve a removal of seals and submersible pumps, depending on the fountain type. If the water feature in question comes as a package with a piece of artwork or sculpture that may be removed, our team will do so after performing an assessment with the developer and designer.
3. Storage: Water feature components are far from cheap. To protect them from the elements and human interference, every winterization procedure ends with the packing and storing of all removable pieces. While it is tradition to keep everything locked away in the pump room, we always deliberate with our client prior to making any moves. Once the items are safely stowed away, we make sure all changes are documented so that the feature can be ready to go for the next season.
Maintaining water features is a specialized job that requires special considerations with each change in the weather. The Knightsbridge team prides ourselves on creating work plans that match the individual needs of each project, winterization included. As snow falls and temperatures plunge, we are more than ready to drain, de-construct, and store away the feature’s components so that it can continue to bring joy in the new year.