Avoid costly sprinkler damage by winterizing your system before the ground freezes!
Underground sprinkler systems require a proper shutdown in order to be protected all winter long. When water is trapped inside the pipes of your system, it is at risk of freezing when ground temperatures drop. Water expands when it freezes, and before you know it, you have broken underground pipes, valves, or even complete system destruction.
Ice can also disrupt the pressure within a system and cause a number of sprinkler components to break. Even if your sprinkler parts do not break, the stress of ice within the system can significantly weaken them and put them at risk for damage later on.
When sprinkler pipes burst under pressure from freezing water, the underground damage to the system can often go unnoticed for some time, increasing the potential for unexpected – and pricey – water bills on top of system repair or replacement costs. Keeping your sprinkler system safe this winter begins with a thorough shutdown in the fall before the ground freezes.
Manually Draining Systems
Performing a manual sprinkler shutdown starts by shutting off the water supply to your system. Next, all of the valves at the end and low points of your system need to be opened so the excess water will be able to flow out. The system backflow device needs to be drained as well. If the system includes check valves, which are responsible for controlling the direction water is moving through your system, the sprinkler heads should be raised to drain water from their valves and chambers. Once drained, be sure to go back and shut any of the valves that had been opened.
Although manually draining an irrigation system evacuates the majority of the water from a system, it is likely there will still be some residual water left behind. Even a small amount of water can freeze and damage the system’s pipes and other components. For this reason, irrigation professionals recommend performing a sprinkler blowout to effectively remove all the water.
Sprinkler system blowouts are completed with the help of compressed air, which is directed into the system to force out all remaining water. If you’ve never performed a system blowout before, contact an irrigation professional, as the process can be dangerous, both for the system and yourself.
Compressed air blowouts should only be performed on systems designed to handle high pressure. For systems with PVC piping, the PSI should never rise above 80. For systems with polyethylene pipes, the PSI should never rise above 50. Once the air compressor is properly coupled to the system, each sprinkler head (starting with the head at the farthest point away from the compressor), needs to be carefully opened to allow it to fully disperse all remaining water (visually this takes the form of a high power mist of water and air). Once completed, it’s essential to make sure there is no built-up air pressure left in the system. It’s also important to ensure the air compressor does not blow through the backflow valve.
Envision Sprinkler Shut Downs
The best way to ensure your sprinkler is properly shut down for winter is to talk to the irrigation pros at Envision! One call to the Envision team this fall is all you need to keep your system protected during the ice-cold winter months ahead. Envision’s irrigation pros have years of experience prepping residential and commercial irrigation systems for winter. With specialized water evacuation equipment, the Envision team will safely perform the sprinkler system blowout – completely removing all water from the system and eliminating the risk of damage from freezing water.