Winterizing Your Sprinkler System
Photo Courtesy of Will’s Company
As the temperatures continue to plunge all over the country, many homeowners are making sure that their sprinkler systems are ready to go as well. With cool weather moving in, people with sprinklers don’t want their sprinkler systems to be caught with water inside their pipes.
Today, the Toolbarn staff will give you a brief rundown on how to winterize and maintain your sprinkler system so you can use it next year.
Photo Courtesy of Landscapes NW
Before you begin to drain your sprinklers, it’s a good idea to inspect all the sprinkler heads and make sure there aren’t any that are clogged. You also want to look for “damp” spots on your lawn. If you see a “damp” spot, that means one of your lines may be broken or damaged in some way. Also, if you have an automatic water sprinkler, you need to get your backflow checked. You want to make sure your outside water doesn’t filter into your drinking water. Get a professional to check it for your peace of mind and your health.
Three Different Methods
Photo Courtesy of Allscape Lawn Sprinkler
Many sprinkler systems have their own types of drainage systems and it usually falls under one of these three categories: manual, automatic and blow out. The method you use depend on what type of sprinkler system you have installed.
Manual Drain Method
Graphic Courtesy of Landscape Online
If you have a sprinkler system that requires you drain water from your pipes manually, you’ll first have to locate the valves that allow you turn the water off. First, shut the water off and then open all the valves. Open the test cocks on your backflow device and if your sprinklers have check valves, you’ll need to pull up on the sprinklers to allow water to drain out towards the bottom of the body. When you’re sure all the water has been drained, close the valves.
Automatic Drain Method
Graphic Courtesy of Sprinkler
If you have a system that requires you to automatically drain your sprinklers, start by turning the automatic drainage valves. They are usually located near the end or low points of the sprinkler system. They will automatically open up and drain the water if the pressure in the piping is less than 10 PSI. Make sure you shut off the water and activate a station to relieve the system pressure.
After the water is drained completely out of the mainline, open the boiler valve or drain cap in order to drain the residue from the backflow or the shutoff valve.
Blow Out Method
Graphic Courtesy of Sprinkler Warehouse
Before you begin blowing out your sprinkler system, make sure you wear eye protection! When compressed air is running through your sprinkler that means water is blowing out with even greater force than normal. If you’re nearby, wear ANSI approved goggles or other eye protection.
The blow out method uses an air compressor to push that water out of the pipes. Usually, the air compressor uses a cubic foot per minute (CFM) rating of 80-100 for any mainline that is 2” or less. The compressor is attached to the mainline via a coupler. To start the blow out, shut off the water and attach the compressor hose to the fitting. The blowout pressure should remain below the maximum operating pressure specification. Good rule of thumb is PSI should never exceed 80.
Finally, each station or zone should be activated starting from the furthest zone where the compressor is. Never run the compressor with at least one irrigation control valve open.
If you take the appropriate steps, you sprinkler system will be in great shape through the winter and make your lawn nice and green next year.