In this blog post, I will discuss with you simple yet effective methods to winterize your sprinkler system. Your sprinkler system deserves most of your attention because it is the part of the property that will get completely damaged without any doubt if you leave it without winterization. A Sprinkler system is also called an irrigation system.
Prepare your sprinkler system for the winter:
- Step 1: Unplug the timer of your sprinkler system
- Step 2: Turn off the main water valve of your sprinkler system
- Step 3: Remove the backflow valves and preventers of your sprinkler system
- Step 4: Protect the pump for your sprinkler system
- Step 5: Use a small air compressor to blow out the water fully from your sprinkler system
If you live in an area that sees a lot of frosts continuously for many weeks and months, you must remember that if you leave a single drop of water inside the sprinkler system its pipelines and heads will burst and get damaged beyond repair. Winterization of your sprinkler system simply needs a few minutes or maximum, half an hour, but if you are too lazy or too busy to carry out this task on your own, there are sprinkler system winterization services available and they will charge you a few bucks and save you a fortune.
Winterization of different types of sprinkler systems
There are 2 different types of sprinkler systems or irrigation systems:
– Slow drip system:
The pipelines and the heads of this type of sprinkler system are constructed above the ground. The water slowly drips into the soil and avoids flowing and evaporation.
To winterize your slow drip sprinkle system, you must detach the removable parts and carry them indoors for safe storage throughout the freezing months. You must make sure that every drop of water is completely drained out from this type of sprinkle system. Otherwise, as soon as the temperature drops, the water will start turning into ice, thus, shattering the pipelines of the system.
You must make sure that you take out the batteries from the timer of your slow drip sprinkle system and carry them indoors for safe storage. You must not only winterize your sprinkle system but also repel the rodents and moles from building their nests inside them. If you leave an open-ended pipeline, the rodents and moles will enter from there and damage your entire sprinkle system.
– Underground sprinkle system:
The pipelining of this type of sprinkle system is located under the ground. To winterize this type of sprinkle system, you must first of all, shut off all the water valves. You must make sure that the pipelines are covered with insulation to prevent any drops of water inside them from turning into ice. You must clean the system and repair any damaged parts before the winterization.
Different methods of winterization of sprinkler systems
There are three different methods of winterizing your sprinkle system:
– Automatic drainage method:
This method allows the water to drain from the heads and the pipelines of your sprinkle system once they are opened. But this system has a great drawback as it will only drain the water from the high points of your sprinkler system and the water that has gathered in the lower part will stay as it is. If you rely only on this method of drainage, the water that has collected in the lower parts will turn into ice thus shattering all the pipelines and creating a hole in your wallet.
– Manual drainage method:
This method also works like the automatic drainage method. You open up certain valves of your sprinkler system to remove the water from the pipelines. It has the same drawback that the water is only removed from the highest parts of the pipeline and the water that is collected in the lower parts remains where it is.
– Blowing out with compressed air:
This is the best, most affordable, and most reliable method of draining your sprinkler system. This method is a guarantee that you have secured your sprinkler system against frost and snow. This method involves opening up all the valves of your sprinkler system and then using an air compressor to blow the air at 50 to 80 pounds per square inch (psi).
The compressed air removes all the water from the lower and the higher parts of the system thus protecting it against damage.
When to prepare your sprinkler system for the winter?
If you are located in the northern hemisphere, then you will have to winterize your sprinkler system between mid-September and mid-October. And if you are located in the southern hemisphere, then you will have to winterize your sprinkler system between mid-march and mid-April. When the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of three days, you must make sure that you can carry out the process of winterization before this.
How to winterize your sprinkler system?
– Step 1: Unplug the timer of your sprinkler system:
If you leave the plug of your sprinkler system plugged in, it will get damaged due to power surges. Suppose you spent a lot of time and effort in clearing and blowing the water out of the pipelines and the heads of your sprinkler system and the next morning the timer come on again, it would be a lot of trouble.
– Step 2: Turn off the main water valve of your sprinkler system:
If you are planning to head southwards to spend your snowbird season and your house will stand vacant throughout the winter season, you must make sure that you shut the main water valve of your house to prevent any leakages and avoiding all of the pipelines from getting frozen up. You will have to manually shut off the water at the meter. It will make a big difference to your utility bills.
In this way, you will be able to save a lot of bucks. If you are cost-conscious, this step is really wallet-friendly for you.
– Step 3: Remove the backflow valves and preventers of your sprinkler system:
The backflow valves and preventers of your sprinkler system are always located above the ground irrespective of the sprinkler system you own. This is why it becomes really important to remove them and take them indoors for storage, leaving them outdoors can freeze the water found inside them and damage them beyond repair. Not only will the water inside them turn into ice causing them to crack, but the heavy snow blanket will also press them hardly thus, crushing them.
When you want to activate your sprinkler system in the spring season, you will have to, first of all, attach the preventers and backflow valves. And then turn on the main water valve because you had shut it at the beginning of the winter season. Then you will set the timer according to your desired time or the necessity of the crop that you want to water.
If the water is not properly getting sprayed in the direction that you want or in the quantity that you want the sprinkler to shower the water, you must at once seek the assistance of a professional mechanic to check the heads of your sprinkler system. One of the most common problems that are faced by many landscapers is that their sprinkler systems get cracked and start leaking due to the careless movements of the snowblowers, snow shovels, and snowplows.
– Step 4: Protect the pump for your sprinkler system:
Your sprinkler system will take the water from a pond or an underground well. For this, it will use an electronic pump. You cannot drain the water out of this pump, so you must add an RV antifreeze to it to keep it from getting damaged. This chemical is easily available from online stores and hardware stores at competitive prices.
You must not ignore the pump because it is the most important part of your sprinkler system.
– Step 5: Use a small air compressor to blow out the water fully from your sprinkler system:
In order to remove all the water from the pipes, you should use an air compressor, or ask a sprinkler expert to do this for you. You can purchase one or rent a small air compressor for about 20 US dollars an hour from any online store or your local lawn care store. Not fully emptying your pipes could damage them and will be an expensive repair, a new sprinkler system can cost between $2500 and $8000 depending on the size of the area where it is installed. Minor repairs of a sprinkler system will cost between $1000 and $1200 which will much higher than of purchasing or renting an air compressor.
As soon as the spring season approaches, you must at once reverse the entire process to get your sprinkler system started again. Many companies are available for the winterization and the reactivation of sprinkler systems in different parts of the world and they offer both services at prices around $100.
To conclude this blog post, I would say that winterizing your sprinkler system does not mean that you will allow the grass to die. For the survival of your grass, you must invest some time and effort into watering it manually on the first and the second day of snowfall.