You may have had trouble in the past with your waterfall feature freezing, ruining, or stopping altogether. So how do you avoid this damage of your waterfall this upcoming winter?
To winterize your waterfall feature, turn the feature off as the cold front comes in so the piping doesn’t freeze. Remove the water from your waterfall area so that there is no water to freeze in the basin, storing it temporarily in an area that can be reached the following spring.
Be aware of what waterfall features you own before winterizing it this year and what your regular climate is like. Follow the steps below to help protect your feature from possible damage.
Understanding your Waterfall and Pond
For certain types of water feature structures, the constant cycle of freezing and thawing throughout the winter may cause costly damage to the stonework of any waterfalls, stone fountains, and streams that have stones which have been placed within them.
If your waterfall features do not have a pond, or if bubbling rocks are in shallow depressions, then these features must be winterized by turning them off and following these important steps. (Source: Next Year, Winterize Your Water Features to Enjoy Them in the Spring – Timberline Landscaping)
Warning: When water freezes on a waterfall feature, then it could divert the flow of the water, quickly draining the pond or feature.
Watching for the Climate Change
When deciding at what time that you should start to winterize your water feature and pond, pay special attention to the way that the temperatures begin to drop as winter closes in.
For example; if you notice that the temperature is dropping from fifty five degrees Fahrenheit to about thirty two degrees Fahrenheit from the start of the day and into the night. Then you should begin to prepare your feature for the arrival of winter as soon as you see the starting temperature of the day begin to drop down to about forty five degrees Fahrenheit.
Tip: It is best to try to understand the climate in your area. As well as to understand how it will affect you this winter, to the best of your ability, before beginning to winterize your feature.
Warning: Climate and climate temperatures are capable of being completely unpredictable. Even when having received prior experience with your specific climate and its changes, always be aware of rapid temperature changes that may occur. This is necessary in order to make the correct preparations.
Turning off Your Feature
Turning off your feature is vital in protecting it from unnecessary damages. A colder climate can divert the flow of the water and damage your water feature’s function. If it is necessary, remove the water within the waterfall feature to prevent damage from occurring.
If there is a pond attachment, then the best option to avoid any cracks or damage, is to fully drain your pond and feature for the winter. When you have completely emptied your water feature, a water feature protection cover should be carefully placed over the top, so as to cover as much of the surface as possible, avoiding any such damages.
Warning: Failure to turn off and protect your feature could potentially cause severe damage at a high cost, particularly for certain types of stone features. These specific features are far more prone to crack under the built up pressure of the newly formed ice, and would cause a greater difficulty in repairs.
Storing the Water Pump
It is important to understand the importance of removing the water and water pump from your feature. The water pump specifically is in danger of breaking as the ice exerts pressure on the pump’s outer casing. Cracks can form due to this pressure, allowing for water to penetrate the interior of the water pump to where the electrical lines are.
To avoid the damage, you should remove the water pump for the duration of the winter if the pump is less than sixteen inches deep. Store it safely in a bucket of water within a warmer area, so as not to freeze and cause damage. The water will prevent the pump from drying out and cracking. (source: Next Year, Winterize Your Water Features to Enjoy Them in the Spring – Timberline Landscaping)
When the pump has been successfully removed, be sure to seal off the area where the pump was originally placed in order to protect it from any damage.
Clearing the Algae and Plant Life from Pond Attachments
As the temperature drops, the best thing you can do for your plant life, is to remove each of the plants from the interior and exterior of your water features. Whether or not you trash or save your plants for the following spring, ensure that each one has been cleared from the area of the pond.
You can safely remove them, even as the first frost occurs. However, any time beyond that could cause damage to your water feature. When the plants have been safely removed, carefully clear your feature of all plant debris from the whole of the bottom surface of the feature.
If, when you are done, you find algae around or inside of your water feature, be sure to carefully use a water-activated granular algaecide. Be aware as to the fact that, at varying times, persistent algae staining is significant in that you will need to drain your pond or vault in order to fully clear it of all of the algae. (Source: Next Year, Winterize Your Water Features to Enjoy Them in the Spring – Timberline Landscaping)
Warning: If and when you decide to fully clean your feature in this manner, be sure to refill the feature before the following cold climate begins to set in so as to avoid causing and damage to your feature.
Tip: Be sure to also clean the bottom of the pump vault as well, as this could also be damaged during the winter months.
What to Watch out for During the Winter
In order to protect your feature against further debris and prevent the need to constantly clean it out, you should prune the surrounding trees. The trees or plant life around a feature can drop further debris that could clog your feature in the future. So be sure to act fast ahead of time to ensure the safety of your water feature.
If you have a pond attachment, watch the color of the water to see if it browns from falling debris. If this happens, add activated carbon to the water to help it get that sparkle back. (Source: 8 Tips To Protect Your Garden Water Feature During Winter (selfgrowth.com))
Knowing When to Refill Your Feature
Once again, it is important to refer to the climate change within your area. Keep in mind that the temperature will continue to drop at night as you move forward towards spring. Although it may appear to be warm enough during the day, freezing temperatures could return by evening.
Become more familiar with when the temperatures will once again return to a warm enough climate before returning your feature to its original function.
Tip: climate is mainly unpredictable and may not provide the changes that we think, even with prior experience. It is important to be wary of rapid climate changes before returning your feature to its original function.
What to do When the Feature has been Damaged
As a pond and waterfall owner, if you have left your pond attachment uncovered throughout the winter, then you are like to find a few minor cracks throughout your feature.
As the water freezes during the winter months, it expands. Even in a much larger area of a pond, it can put pressure on any man made edges, causing damage to occur. Usually the expansion occurs when a pond has not been correctly cover or rather, has not been covered at all during the winter period.
However, if the damages occur, then there are a few ways to repair it. A sealant spray known as epoxy, may be able to repair any minor hairline cracks along the area of your water feature.
If your pipes are leaking, then it would be best to use a spray seal to heal over any existing leaks. These sprays will be capable of repairing any cracks or leaks whether that be the pump or the water feature itself. There are two major types of spray seal, one being clear, and the other black. The black spray tends to be used more for interior leaks, whereas as the clear is used for more visible, or outer exterior leaks.
That being said, if the damage is still too great for a simple spray seal to fix, then the best option is to contact your local expert to make the proper repairs. A repairman would further understand what needs to be done to replace or fix certain areas within your water feature.
Tip: If your water feature has already been damaged, it is best to fix it as soon as possible to prevent even further harm to the integral structure of the feature.