Caring for Your Spray Park Adds Life
Before a spray park is even installed, certain measures can be taken to encourage a long and healthy life for components. Drainage is one consideration that should be evaluated in the early stages of planning. Ample drainage can help prevent the collection of water, eliminate unsafe conditions for children and help prevent circumstances that cause components to be more susceptible to corrosion.
The water supply you choose for your park will not only determine the most appropriate component material but will also affect maintenance costs. For example, a chemically treated water system will require regular inspection by a qualified water technician to ensure systems are functioning properly and the water is safe for kids to play in. In straight supply systems, the water comes directly from local drinking sources leaving quality control to those in charge of maintaining the local water supply. It is important to choose the water source and material best suited for your environment to eliminate maintenance headaches years down the road.
Once the components are installed, it is a good idea to inspect your park at least once a week. All component surfaces should be checked for visible signs of damage while the performance of all nozzles should be observed for changes in display. Maintenance crews want to be sure the park is being used to its full potential and the area is free from any debris or potential hazards.
Spray park components are designed to produce specific displays. If a component is displaying inconsistent spray effects, it may indicate a number of issues: the orifices in the nozzle need to be cleaned; the nozzle position requires altering; the valves require attention; or the controller needs adjusting. Seals around nozzles and parts should be checked for wear and tear and replaced if leaks occur. All mechanical hardware and fasteners should also be checked regularly to ensure they are secure and protected against vandalism. Water pressure should not exceed what is recommended by the manufacturer in order to prevent dangerous water spray, malfunction of water features, and water spraying onto the surrounding landscape.
Most spray park equipment has a layer of powder coating, which provides a defensive barrier between the equipment and corrosive substances. This coating requires regular polishing and cleaning to maintain its original appearance and prevent water build up in creviced areas. It is recommended that a good coat of paste wax be applied to all spray park equipment. The wax layer can help keep water spots from forming and prevent spray paint from sticking to the product in the event of vandalism.
If the paint surface has been scratched, your manufacturer can provide guidance on how to repair the surface. It is best if you repair the surface as soon as possible. If water is left sitting in a scratched area for extended periods of time, the material’s ability to resist corrosion may be inhibited and the product can suffer from pitting or other unsightly forms of surface corrosion.
While performing the inspections of your spray park, it is important to ensure that all structures continue to follow strict playground standards such as those outlined in ASTM standards. By keeping clear maintenance records, potential hazards can be eliminated. The manufacturer of your equipment can provide you with a safety checklist to follow for every inspection you conduct.
Depending on where you live and whether or not your spray park is indoors or out, spray parks are usually operational on a seasonal basis. Certain procedures should be followed to preserve the water features over the winter months. In order to prevent freezing, the water pipelines should be completely blown out. A gravity drain cock, typically featured in the water distribution system, can easily drain the water from the lines. To prevent corrosion, nozzles should be replaced with blanks or plugs, but only after the lines have been blown out. A final step in the winter shut down process is the reprogramming of the spray park controller to ensure the park is not operational after the spray park season closes.
A spray park can be an exciting addition to any playground or aquatic center. Through proper planning and regular inspection and maintenance programs, spray parks can continue to bring hassle-free enjoyment to both kids and owners, year after year.
Kip Skabar is a second-year intern in the design department at Waterplay Manufacturing Inc.
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