How to Winterize your Irrigation System

1 Sep 18

Leaving water in your irrigation system throughout the freezing cold winter could mean thousands of dollars of damage. The process of removing the excess water from your irrigation system for the winter months is known as “Winterizing” your irrigation system. In locations like Columbia, Missouri where temperatures typically reach below freezing every winter season, this should be a process you revisit yearly to ensure that no damage is accrued.

Three basic methods are employed when winterizing an irrigation system. This is because there are several types of irrigation systems your home could have installed. While the methods below are best practice for draining your own system by yourself, if you ever feel uncomfortable performing the maintenance it may be best to contact your local professionals to get the job done right.

Winterizing Manual Valves

To winterize a manual valve irrigation system, it is as simple as shutting off the irrigation water supply and opening all the manual drain valves. The difficult part for first-timers can be locating the manual drain valves. For those unaware, a manual drain valve will typically have a lever on the top to release excess water. These are more than likely found at the end and low-points of your irrigation system.

After the water has completely cleared from the main line open your boiler drain valve (these will typically be painted red or blue in an octagonal shape) and drain all the remaining water that is between the irrigation water shut off valve and the backflow device. Open the test cocks and if your sprinklers have test valves you will also need to release them appropriately to efficiently drain all the water in your irrigation system. Be sure to once again close all the valves once every drop of water has drained. Congratulations! You have effectively drained your manual valve irrigation systems.

Winterizing Automatic Valves

Automatic Valve Irrigation systems will automatically drain water out of the pipes if pressure falls below a certain PSI (pounds per square inch). The way to initiate this winterization process is to simply turn off your water supply. Once you have cut off water supply, briefly run one of your main sprinkler heads to relieve the pressure in the system.

In most cases, you will still need to also drain the water in both the shutoff valve and backflow device. Similar to the manual valve irrigation system you will need to empty any check valves separately to ensure that all excess water is drained from the irrigation system.

Winterizing Using the Blow Out Method

The blow out the method of clearing your irrigation system uses an air compressor to force excess water out of your sprinkler heads. While this method is effective, it potentially has very hazardous consequences. If you’ve never worked with compressed air before or have never performed a blow out to your irrigation system before, Voss highly recommends you do not attempt to perform this method and instead contact your local professionals.

To perform this type of winterization correctly you will need an air compressor, safety glasses, and a coupler fitting your system. Make sure before beginning the process to shut off all of your backflow valves. Once backflow valves are secured you will connect the air pressure system to the coupler. After slowly initiating the air pressure (and not exceeding 90 PSI) you should see a stream of water slowly emerging from the active irrigation head. Once water has completely drained from the active irrigation head you should switch to another one, slowly moving from the furthest head to the one closest to the compressor.

Sprinkler System Services in Columbia, MO

Want to ensure your irrigation system is properly winterized? Leave it up to the experts at Voss Landscaping & Tree to ensure irrigation system is ready for the freezing cold weather. Our certified handyman offers an array of Sprinkler System Services including detailed tree planting and installation.

Having a staff that is knowledgeable and passionate means that we understand the importance of keeping your new tree a valued asset and will adhere to professional standards that ensure we do not harm the value of your property! Contact Us today!