Your irrigation system is an investment in your property and it makes sense that you want to protect it from damage. One of the most important ways you can keep your system from becoming damaged over time is to make sure it’s ready for cold temperatures by weatherizing it properly. Skip this critical step and you could wind up with pipes that freeze and break, resulting in major leaks and costly repairs. You may even wind up needing to replace the entire system.
At Garden Irrigation, we can winterize your system for you, making sure it’s properly protected and saving you the hassle of trying to do it yourself. But if you’re a handy kind of person, you may want to tackle weatherizing your irrigation system on your own. If that sounds like you, here are the steps you need to take to make sure your irrigation system is ready for winter weather:
- Turn off the water at the main valve (which hopefully was installed in a spot where there’s no risk of becoming frozen).
- Turn off the system controller. The controller is what times when your system turns on and off. Depending on the system you have, you may be able to use a setting to prevent the system from turning on (often designated as “rain” mode) or you may have to disconnect the controller altogether.
- Now, it’s time to disconnect the backflow preventer. Backflow preventers that use union connectors – threaded connectors designed to make connecting and disconnecting easy – can be removed without too much effort. Those that use other types of connectors may have to be cut out and reconnected using union connectors in the spring. Once the preventer is disconnected, drain it and store it in your garage or basement until spring.
- Drain your risers. You can use a pump or a wet-dry vac for this task. In a few cases, you may be able to siphon the water out; no matter which route you choose, be sure the risers are completely drained. Valves located above ground should be removed and stored until spring. Some homeowners opt for heating cables to keep valves and risers free from freezing, but be aware that a single power outage can be enough to destroy your entire system.
- Drain your pipes and sprinkler heads. This is where it gets complicated. There are a few ways you can go: Use a wet-dry vac to suck the water out – a process that’s extremely tedious and not always completely effective; using the drain valves to drain water; or using air to blow air out of your system. The drain valve method depends on your system having the drain valves placed properly during installation. Essentially, gravity works for you by drawing water to the lowest point where the valve is located. Valves and sprinkler heads won’t dry completely; they need to be removed and dried manually. Try using a wet-dry vac on the sprinkler heads. Blowing the moisture out of your system is probably the most effective options, but because pressure must be carefully regulated to avoid damage, this is a job best left for professionals.
When it comes to winterizing your irrigation system doing it yourself will certainly save money upfront (as long as you own the right equipment to do it properly), but remember: even small errors can cause significant damage to your system. Having a professional winterize your system is the best way to make sure it’s done right and a wise investment in the long-term health of your system. Interested in learning more about the winterization services we offer? Call us today at 1-800-WET LAWN.