When and How to Winterize Your Sprinkler System
15 Nov 17
15 Nov 17
There is a lot of maintenance that can go into preparing your home and yard for the winter months. From the picturesque raking of leaves, the tedious chore of gutter cleaning, and even preparing your car for the winter months, one thing you should never overlook is winterizing your sprinkler system.
What does it mean to “winterize a sprinkler system”? In short, it is when your drain the entire irrigation system of water, before the first deep freeze of the winter or fall months; not only is it important to do this process, it is crucial for avoiding cracked, damaged and broken pipes (quick science lesson in case you forgot: when water freezes, its’ molecules expand. This is why frozen pipes usually crack or burst). Not only will you not notice any damage to your irrigation system until spring, but it can be very costly and difficult to repair broken or damaged pipes.
Since draining or blowing out your sprinkler is so important, it is crucial to get it done before the first hard soil penetrating freeze. A hard freeze, as a term, is a little ambiguous since every plant reacts differently to the cold. A freeze, in a weather report, is anything 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below. A hard freeze usually requires it to be a little bit colder and for an extended period of time. Since pipes are buried in the ground, the soil does act as an insulator. No need to worry about your pipes if the air temperatures dip to 32 degrees for the first time of the year and your system still isn’t drained. This, however, would be a good time to drain your irrigation system as it will only continue to get colder, and the chance of damage increases with each temperature drop below 32 degrees. So a good rule of thumb is when you see 32 degrees for the first time in the forecast, drain your sprinkler system as soon as possible.
There are 3 main ways to drain a sprinkler system depending on the types of valves and system you have. If you have automatic valves, turning off the water supply to the system and turning on one sprinkler head to let the water out is all you usually need to do. For manual valves, all you need to do is shut off the water, and open the valve. Then there is the ‘blow-out’ method. This is when you force compressed air into the piping, forcing the water out of the sprinkler heads (as seen here); this method can cause damage if not done right so make sure you know what you are doing before you attempt the blowout method. For more detailed information on how to drain your sprinkler systems, check out this blog here.
If you have never drained your sprinkler system before, or want a professional to show you the best technique for your specific system, contact us today. We would be happy to either walk you through or show you how to safely and properly drain or blow out an irrigation system, leaving you worry-free through the winter!
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