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Green Impressions Outdoor Living

By Corey Rosso • October 3, 2012

How To Properly Winterize Your Home Irrigation System

Home Irrigation SystemThe summer of 2012 brought us extreme heat and drought throughout. As we head into fall; I am already missing the beautiful summer nights that we experienced this year, as well as seeing my home irrigation system running practically every morning.  However, we will all enjoy watching our water bill returning back to normal prices. 

We all know that fall can turn into winter very quickly. With last year’s mild winter and this year’s hot summer, who knows what kind of winter we could be in for. With cooler temperatures approaching, it's time to get your sprinkler system ready for winter.

 

Why should I get my irrigation system winterized?

Two very simple answers are, so the pipes do not burst, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Winterizing your system can avoid any potential damage from water freezing. We all know that when water freezes it expands. The water freezing inside the pipe, especially where fittings are located, can cause the pipe to expand and burst. Also, the expanding and contracting of the pipe can cause it to weaken, which could lead to further problems over time. 

To repair a broken pipe, the area will have to be dug up which will then lead to having to reseed that area. If water freezes inside the backflow it will damage the threading inside the backflow causing the backflow to need to be replaced. Some systems include drains on the irrigation lines that allows the water to drain out which causes people to think that they don’t need their systems winterized. In some cases this may be true, but the issue with drains is that they are usually just located at the last head of the run which is very often not the low point in the line. The drain will only work for the water that is higher than the drain. Any water in the line that is lower than the drain will remain in the line, which can lead to a damaged system.

 

What does winterizing and irrigation system actually involve?

When winterizing an irrigation system, an air hose is connected from a compressor and force air into the system. Air is blown through the heads on each zone, one at a time. The backflow should be drained manually. 

 

How do you winterize an irrigation system?

It's important to turn the water off before connecting air to the system. With the compressor running you need to turn on the zones one at a time and let them run until the water is no longer coming out of the sprinkler heads. Some zones might need to be turned on and off multiple times for the compressor to charge. While small compressors can do the job on most residential systems, there are many variables on how long you will need to blow out each zone. The variables are the pipe sizing, how long the run is, the psi you are using, and the size of the compressor. 

Once all the water is blown out of the zones you need to winterize the backflow. You'll need to open the drain on the inlet side of the backflow. This is located either on the bottom of the backflow or inside the house on the plumbing line. With the drain opened you need to set up the ball valves on the backflow by opening and closing them so water doesn’t get trapped behind the ball. All ball valves need to be left half open and half closed (handle should be at a 45 degree angle) when you are finished. Also the test ports on the backflow are just small ball valves and need to be set up the same way. Opened and then left at a 45. Your irrigation system is now winterized. 

 

Why should I have Green Impressions winterize my system for me?

Your system will be winterized by a professional and warranted against any freezing if it occurred.  Green Impressions will be winterizing systems through the end of October with the cost starting at $75.

 

Get My Irrigation System Winterized

 

Image Credit: Kumaravel