Beyond Winterization: Planning for Year-Round Water Feature Maintenance

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water feature maintenance

By Chris Roy, Director of Creative Design

This time of year, in addition to spreading holiday cheer, many property owners and managers are focused on winterizing their water features.

Winterization is a vital part of a comprehensive water feature maintenance program, particularly for properties in geographical areas with colder climates.

Any fountain that is not designed to operate year-round must be winterized annually to avoid costly expenses from events such as pipes bursting and damaging equipment, and to prevent costly damages to structural components and finish materials.

Winterization typically consists of draining a water feature and all pipes, removing all moisture from the plumbing. In addition, drain valves, pump plugs and strainers are opened to allow accumulated water to drain, and watertight plugs are installed in drain sumps to ensure that rainfall and snowmelt do not enter the plumbing during winter months.

All of this work provides protection against harsh weather and temperatures, and when winter melts to spring, the water feature is ready to be brought to life once more – an additional process for the other half of a fountain’s seasonal life cycle, which we’ll discuss in depth in another article.

Beyond the winter months, today’s property owners and managers are increasingly opting for a year-round maintenance plan, through which they can save long-term costs by keeping fountain elements operating at an optimum level.

To help owners and managers select the right maintenance partner, below are a few qualities that providers of water feature maintenance plans should possess:

  • A full range of services—Water feature maintenance needs range from basic to complex. Companies that have the capability to handle every issue, from simple water quality checks to complete rebuilds, will be best suited to identify and address water feature issues.

Companies that offer water feature maintenance plans should have expertise in fountain electrical, underwater lighting, and all control system types, including PLC’s and DMX-based show controls, as OTL does, to provide the best technical service available.

In addition, a thorough water feature maintenance company will provide recurring maintenance, service calls, repairs, and renovations, with services that include maintaining electrical and control panels, controls and programming, underwater lighting, sanitation systems (chemical, ozone, ultraviolet, and fully automated), waterproofing (tile, plaster and precast), and water level automation, as well as filter media replacement, equipment upgrades, and water-quality monitoring.

Providing the periodic equipment maintenance and service that is recommended by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is also vitally important.

OTL’s seasoned maintenance technicians are experts in each of these areas and services.

  • Proficiency in particular water feature types—Each type of water feature has its own maintenance needs and schedule, which can vary widely.

Architectural fountains, musical show fountains, interior water features, interactive water features, ponds and streams, koi ponds, water gardens, and artificial rockwork each require different forms of care. OTL offers maintenance plans for each of these water feature types to ensure that every feature is properly winterized and that all water elements remain sanitized and functional year round.

OTL also works hard to design and build features into our projects that make them easier to maintain and more efficient. For example, in updating the koi ponds at Ganna Walska Lotusland, we installed new mechanical and biological filtration systems that clear the ponds’ water to allow visitors to see the beautiful fish, and we use state-of-the-art ultraviolet sterilization and a commercial protein skimmer to help ensure the health of the prized koi on a continual basis.

Understanding the technical aspects of every water feature type allows maintenance companies to customize their service to each product to maintain optimal performance.

  • A focus on green practices—Sustainability is a growing issue in the built environment, and is top of mind for today’s property owners and managers.Water feature maintenance firms that utilize green practices are best positioned to support the long-term needs of these properties.

OTL pays special attention to sustainability, utilizing materials, equipment and processes that are ecologically friendly, resource-efficient and cost-conscious, which extends to our maintenance programs.

For example, to reduce power consumption, which is by far the largest operating expense with respect to water features, we install LED light fixtures as opposed to incandescent lights and use variable frequency drives in our projects. Along with dramatically decreasing the cost of operating water features, LED lights require much less frequent changing by maintenance personnel, which is more efficient and also beneficial to the environment.

Water features maintained in this manner will have a positive impact on the environment and help to conserve both costs and natural resources.

  • A proven track record—A history of satisfied customers is the hallmark of a great water feature maintenance provider.

The ability to meet the needs of a long clientele list demonstrates that a provider is reliable, innovative, and dedicated to keeping property owners’ investment in top working condition.

Checking referrals before committing to any maintenance plan helps ensure that property owners and managers are receiving the highest-quality service for their water features.

A year-round maintenance plan is essential for water feature owners who want to protect their investment.

Partnering with a water feature maintenance expert with knowledge and experience in water feature design, construction, programming and operations is the natural choice to help owners maintain their fountains and water features – in winter and beyond.

To find out more about OTL’s maintenance services or to obtain a custom maintenance quote for your water feature, contact OTL at (714) 637-4747.