If you live in an area that experiences cold weather in the winter, you know how quickly water pipes freeze. The same is true for automatic sprinkler systems. And, if your piping freezes, you will be facing some pretty significant repair costs come spring. Winterizing your system will ensure that your pipes and other fixtures remain intact during even the harshest conditions. Here’s what you need to know about wintering your automatic sprinkler system.
Step 1 – Turn Off The Water
The first step in any winterization of a Irrigation System process is to shut off the water flowing through the system. Most installers will make it easy to shut off the water to the system. If you aren’t sure where the main shut off to the system is, contact your original installer.
Step 2 – Shut Down The Controller
This step won’t be quite as simple. All automatic sprinkler systems have an electrical control panel that regulates when the system turns on. In some cases, you will need to disconnect the power to the controller while other systems will allow you to simply set the system to “rain mode”.
Step 3 – Remove The Backflow Preventer And Take Care Of Risers
The next step in winterizing your system is to remove the backflow preventer. Once you have removed it, you need to ensure that all of the water is drained from the device. Some experts will tell you that it’s ok to reinstall the device to the system while others tell you to simply store it in a safe place until the following spring. To stay safe, it’s generally better to simply leave it detached until you put the system back into commission.
Next, attach a wet/dry vacuum to the system’s risers in order to remove any additional water remaining in the system. You may need to reinforce the seal between the vacuum’s hose the piping with duct tape to ensure thorough removal.
If your system has exposed values, you should also remove them, drain them and then store them until spring.
Step 4 – Removing Water From The Pipes And Sprinklers
This step is probably the most time consuming, yet the most important step in the winterization process. Removing all of the water from the system’s pipes and sprinkler heads is essential to preventing water from freezing in the pipes and cracking them. Some people do this by attaching a wet/dry vac to the pipes to suck the water out while others will use air to blow the water out. Each has its own pros and cons, but the blow out method is generally less time consuming and offers a more complete removal.
Get The Right Equipment
In order to achieve the right amount of pressure to remove water from all areas of the system, you will need to create quite a bit of air pressure. Most systems will require you to use an air compressor that can produce 50 cubic feet per minute. Always ensure that the compressor you use has an air pressure regulator and gauge to ensure that you aren’t generating too much pressure, which can damage the system or not enough pressure which won’t remove all of the water.
Connect The Air Compressor
Always connect the compressor to the downside of the system and connect it at the backflow preventer riser. At this point, you can begin turning on the valves one at a time using the automatic Irrigation System control panel. Always start with the last valve and work your way forward on the Irrigation System.
Next, turn on the compressor and gradually increase the amount of pressure being applied to the Irrigation System. Take your time when it comes to blowing the water out to prevent accidents or damage to the system. Blow out one valve at a time. Once you have blown out each valve, start over and repeat the process to ensure all of the water is forced out.
Lastly, blow out the main line. Then disconnect the air compressor, disconnect the power to the controller and cap any openings that debris or bugs could cause problems in your Irrigation System.
Because winterization of a Irrigation System is so important for the health of your sprinkler system, it may be best to allow a professional to complete the winterization process for you. If you live in California, contact the professionals at Sprinkler Repair Guy today.