Winterize Sprinkler System
Each year The Farmer’s Almanac provides a Winter Prediction for the southeast. Whatever the preduction and year there are smart things you can and should do to winterize your sprinkler system and avoid damage. Here are some things to know whether you are a DIYer or want to hire a Professional:
Winterizing your irrigation system should be among the wintertime landscape chores on your list. Winter chill can freeze the water within those pipes, leaving cracks that allow water to escape once it has thawed. This means big trouble for not only your irrigation system now, but your lawn come spring. Cracks can lead to a surplus of water that saturates the ground destroying soil, grass, plants, and possibly leading to disease carrying bugs in the warmer months.
The easiest and safest way to winterize your system, of course, is to hire an irrigation contractor to do the job. When contractors winterize a system, they may install a drain valve or other fitting for attaching a compressed air hose downstream of an anti-siphon device at each zone. The water in the system, then, gets “blown away” by the air pressure.
If you decide to do the job yourself, you can choose either approach, IF you’re armed with the ‘know how’ and equipment. You could drain the system using the drain valves, and/or blow out the system the same way a contractor would.
We service Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms, Charleston, Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, Summerville, Sullivans Island, Johns Island, James Island, West Ashley, North Charleston, Moncks Corner, Goose Creek and neighboring cities.
Call us now. 843-886-9314.
How to Winterize Sprinkler System
Auto Drain Valve
The first step, however, is to determine if the system uses auto-drain valves. If auto-drain valves are present, turn the main water supply off, and loosen the solenoid on each valve to let air inside. Water should flow down hill and out of each zone through the auto-drain valve. You may have a manual-drain for the main line between the shut-off valve and the valve manifolds. If a valve is present, open it to allow water to drain.
Keep Pipes from Freezing
Even after you have drained water out of the system, remaining water may remain and can freeze, expand and crack piping, fittings, valves, and sprinkler heads that are made of brass, rigid plastic, and steel above and below grade. Freezing water in the backflow assembly will damage the internal components and could possibly crack the brass body.
How to Blow Out Sprinklers
Auto Drain Valve
If your system does not use auto-drain valves, then an air compressor should be used to blow the water out of the zones. Please note that your system may require additional steps depending on the particular installation.
Air Compressor Drain
When using an air compressor, although not recommend for amateurs, always exercise care and patience. (Warning: Wear safety glasses to prevent eye injury due to the amount of pressure behind those valves.) The pounds of air per square inch, or PSI, must be set at a reasonable level, (A blow out of a system at too high a PSI, will cause damage) along with air volume (Cubic Feet per Minute) in order to accomplish this. Combining approaches is a surefire way to thoroughly drain the system.
Compressor Drain Valve
Opening the drain valves, along with running an air compressor through the system, insures that the system is completely drained. You’ll see the water come out of each head and when you see only air coming out, you’ll know the water’s out. (Warning: Don't keep forcing air through the pipes when the water is drained; it could damage your pipes. Also, never turn off all of the valves while the compressor is still running! A valve must be open at all times. The goal is to blow OUT the sprinklers not blow UP the sprinklers!) The key to winterizing your system is to be patient and thorough in your approach.
In any area where freezing temperatures are possible, sprinkler winterization is a precaution worth taking. Neglecting to winterize sprinkler systems is often very detrimental, causing damage and unnecessary repair bills.
Remember, your irrigation system is an investment and Pleasant Landscapes can affordably assist you in winterizing it. We will inspect all system components to ensure that they are in running order and that no repairs are needed. We can properly wrap or cover needed elements to help insulate them from the cold and drain your system to prevent harmful freezing. It’s the cheapest insurance policy you can get for your lawn sprinkler system!
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