We are in the thick of winter, and whether you’re in an area of the country that’s been unseasonably warm or has been racked by freezing cold temperatures, it never hurts to be prepared. Frozen pipes underground—including those that run to your sprinkler system—can create thousands of dollars in damage. You want to be sure they are properly protected from the elements. Here are some best practices, tips and advice on how to winterize your sprinkler system to make sure that when you need it, it works!
How to Winterize Your Sprinkler System
The first thing you’ll want to do is drain the system—the biggest danger from frozen pipes in winter is from water that expands and creates cracks, bulges and breaks. Before you do that, however, you should inspect all of your sprinkler heads for clogs and blockages. Check for water and dampness around the sprinklers. Dampness indicates a damaged or broken line that could get worse when a freeze hits.
You should also check the backflow if your system is automatic to make sure that you don’t end up with your outside water polluting your drinking water. Calling on the services of a professional, licensed contractor can be a big help in this area.
Manual Drain Systems
If your system requires you to manually drain the water to clean it out, you’ll need to shut off the water. Next, open all of the valves and test cocks on the system and backflow. On check valve systems, pull up on the sprinkler to drain water from the bottom. When the system is drained, close all of the valves again.
Some systems automatically drain when needed. For these systems, open the auto drain valves and allow them to get the pipes to the proper PSI. When this is complete, open the drain or boiler valve to clear out the backflow and shutoff.
If you’ve got a blow-out system, always wear eye protection as the water is pressurized by compressed air. Make sure that you understand this system, and if there are any questions whatsoever, call a qualified contractor to handle the job—it’s much safer.
Shut off the water, attach the compressor hose properly and securely and move from station to station, starting as far away from the compressor as possible. Make sure all irrigation control valves are secured.
When you have drained the water and closed the system back up, your sprinklers should be in great shape to last through the winter and kick back up when you need them next year. Hopefully our tips for how to winterize your sprinkler system will come in handy. As always, securing the services of a licensed and insured plumber is a good idea to make sure that the job is done right, safely and secure.