Winterizing your Sprinkler System
If one thing is certain, it’s that summer is officially over. As cooler temperatures move in, it’s time to protect your property and winterize your sprinkler system.
Freezing temperatures can cause a lot of damage to a sprinkler system if not properly shut off. If water remains in the pipes and it freezes, it causes a lot of pressure on the pipes, manifolds, and sprinkler heads, costing you a lot of money and time.
When is the Right Time to Winterize?
Depending on where you live will determine when the best time is to winterize your irrigation system. As a general rule of thumb, watch the weather and see when temperatures begin to steadily drop. You should blow out your sprinkler system about one week before the first hard freeze is expected (or when the outdoor temperature drops below 0 degrees Fahrenheit). Don’t worry about your lawn needing water–it will survive without it during this time.
Consequences of Failing to Winterize
When water freezes, it expands. If water is left in your irrigation system, it can cause the pipes to crack and burst in big sections, pop off sprinkler heads, or crack the sprinkler heads. In addition, the manifold (the main control area of the sprinkler system) can be damaged, causing the valves connected to it to crack or burst as well. (However, most manifolds are equipped with an accessible drain cap to help drain the system and prevent this from happening).
An entire sprinkler system could be damaged from failure to winterize, causing future flooding. Because pipes are underground, this can be an expensive repair. You should drain as much water from your lines before they freeze.
How to Protect Your Irrigation System
Nobody likes repairing broken systems, let alone forking out a lot of dough for it. So take precaution and follow these simple steps to prevent this from happening to you:
- Shut off the the main valve for the water supply.
- Insulate any above ground piping.
- Shut off the automatic sprinkler timer, or the power to the controller.
- Drain the pipes (automatically, manually, or with a blow-out method).
- Insulate backflow preventers and valves (if above ground)
If you’re still unsure on how to do this, you may want to consider hiring a local irrigation specialist. Hiring a professional can cost anywhere between $50 and $150 depending on where you live and the size of your sprinkler system.