Winterizing Your Sprinkler System

With the harsh winter weather coming up fast, it is important to take some time to prepare your home for the elements. One preparation that is often overlooked by homeowners is preparing your sprinkler system for the cold weather. Doing so can help avoid damaged valves, seals, and pipes when warmer weather returns. Without proper winterizing, you may be faced with steep costs to repair any damages.

Where to Begin

The most important thing to remember when winterizing your sprinkler system is that any water remaining in it must be blown out. Harsh winter temperatures can cause any water left behind to freeze and expand, resulting in damage to the metal and plastic components of the sprinkler system.

You will need an air compressor to prepare your system. You can rent an air compressor from an equipment rental company, hire a plumber who is qualified to perform this service or contact the company that initially installed the system and have them do it.

What You’ll Need

If you have an air compressor, you should have the following items to winterize your sprinkler system:

  • Safety glasses for eye protection
  • Your sprinkler system user manual in case you have any questions
  • Metal fitting for the airline on the compressor
  • Insulated blanket (if applicable)
  • Stop and waste valve key (if applicable)

The Process

The first step in preparing your sprinkler system for winter is turning off the water supply to the system. Your shut-off valve will be in a valve box, which is typically found in your basement, garage, or another space that will protect it from freezing. Your shut-off valve could also be located up to five feet underground, and you will need a key to turn it off. It should not require much effort to turn your shut-off valve off; however, you do not want to force it and risk damage to the valve. Sprinkler systems that utilize a pump for the operation must be drained and disconnected. If possible, store your sprinkler system pump inside for the winter months. For pumps that are permanently in place, this is where you will need the insulated blanket to protect it from the elements.

The next step in the winterizing process is clearing out any water in the backflow device. If your sprinkler system operates on privately owned water, you will want to check the installation plan. Most sprinkler systems typically utilize public water sources and either have a pressure vacuum breaker (PVB) or an atmospheric vacuum breaker (AVB). You will find the AVB located below the valve, and it can be cleared out with the system. In contrast, you cannot use an air compressor to clear out a system with a PVB. For ones with PVBs, you will need to clear out the system first then rotate the test cocks and ball valves a few times. You will then want to position them half-open in order to avoid moisture from building up.

The third step in winterizing your sprinkler system is to actually clear the water out of the system. You will want to clear out all the water in the valves and downstream part of the system. While using the air compressor, it is recommended that you reach a range of 40-80 pounds/square inch. The following are recommendations based on the type of material of your sprinkler system:

  •       50 pounds/square inch maximum for polyethylene pipe
  •       80 pounds/square inch maximum for rigid PVC tubing

In order to find the best volume for your sprinkler system, simply take the gallons per minute and divide by 7.5, which will give you the cubic feet per minute of compressed air needed.

Things to Remember

It is important to note that the size of your air compressor must be considered during this step. Large air compressors should be operated with a regulator to avoid clearing out the water too quickly and causing damage to the sprinkler system. Smaller air compressors can certainly be used for this step; it will just take longer to complete the process.

You will then need to hook up the air compressor to the blowout valve. Turn the compressor to the appropriate psi and begin running it. We recommend that you run the compressor two times for each zone of the sprinkler system.

The final step in the winterization process is to set all the valves on the backflow device to half-open. You will also want to keep the compressor controller plugged in since it is a source of heat to prevent condensation.

You have now successfully prepared your sprinkler system for the winter. Once the spring arrives, you will need to prepare your system for use again. You will need to ensure all valves are closed before re-pressurizing the system. Once the water flow is operational, you can then reopen the valves.

If you have any questions about this, or anything else related to landscaping, give us a call today!

 

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Irrigation Systems: The Key To A Summer Backyard

Irrigation Systems for Summer Hidden Creek Landscaping June 2017Getting your yard looking like a million bucks doesn’t cost that much. In fact, with minimal effort and regular application, you can maintain a pristine landscape. There’s no disputing, however, that the task of watering can be quite demanding, both physically, and financially. Like us, plants require water. Without it they wilt and loose their natural splendor. Irrigation is man’s century old solution to all those hurdles. Simply turn the valve and everything takes care of itself.

In terms of cost, setting up an irrigation system is expensive. On the flip-side, however, it’s only a once off cost and you’re set for many years.

Drill A Borehole: Say Goodbye To Municipal Water

Municipal water, though easily accessible, is generally expensive to say the least, and it’s unreliable at times. So what is your best option? Do yourself a favor and drill a borehole! This allows you to have a constant supply of free, clean water, which is a wise move now that drought is a perennial problem in most parts of the world. With your borehole drilled and the piping connected to the mains, installing your irrigation system remains.

 
Lawn Maintenance: Let Out The Sprinklers!

Invest in an automated sprinkler system. As for your flower beds, there are vertical sprayers that can be mounted at strategic positions amongst the flowers. Again, turn the tap and your yard will be engulfed in a cool mist that is is also perfect for any nearby vegetation. It’s really about taking plant care seriously. The other option homeowners have is drip irrigation. Preferable for fruit trees, vegetable gardens and bushes, drip irrigation is sustainable in the dry months when every drop counts.

Yes, irrigation systems are hefty to install, but you’ll certainly have the freedom to express your landscaping ideas without limitation. Consult with Hidden Creek Landscaping to design an irrigation system best fit for your yard.

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