Why do hand-pump wells and fountains need to close?
The pipes connected to wells and outdoor fountains are subject to freezing. Costly damage can occur if water remains in these pipes for even one night when temperatures fall below 32 degrees. To prevent that damage, all outdoor plumbing systems must be shut down in the fall and started up in the spring. In addition to wells and drinking fountains, outdoor plumbing systems include pools, irrigation systems and decorative fountains — about 350 systems in all.
When do seasonal shutoffs and startups occur?
- Shutdown begins in September after Labor Day and is usually completed by November 15.
- Startup begins in mid-April at the earliest, and depends on low temperatures. Typically most systems are up and running by Memorial Day.
- Timing and weather forecasts are a key consideration to avoid frozen or burst pipes. In spring, staff must be reasonably certain that temperatures will remain above freezing; in fall, the goal is to complete the shutdown for all plumbing systems before the first hard freeze.
Why do some wells or fountains close before others?
The seasonal process of starting up or shutting down 350 plumbing systems can take a number of weeks. In the fall, plumbers aim to leave drinking fountains and wells open as late as possible, along with plumbing systems at event rental sites. In the spring, they prioritize startup of these systems.