When temperatures drop below freezing, any leftover water in your irrigation system can freeze and cause damage. Winterizing can help prevent this damage from occurring and save you from having to pay for costly repairs in the spring. Here’s how you can winterize your sprinklers based on the type of system you have.

Before You Begin

There are three basic ways to drain water from an irrigation system. The right method depends on the specific type of system you have. If you are unsure what kind you have or just don’t feel confident winterizing on your sprinklers on your own, contact the professionals at RMPS Landscaping in Castle Rock.

Make no mistake, you can seriously damage your sprinkler system if you make even the slightest error while draining the system. In some cases, you will have to pay a few hundred dollars to get it working again; in other instances, you could have to pay to have broken lines removed and replaced next spring.

If you inadvertently cause a line to break, you could experience a slow leak that can impact your basement and foundation. Unless you have experience blowing out irrigation lines, it’s a good idea to contact a professional to do the job in a safe, effective manner.

With that said, if you feel comfortable draining your lines yourself, you can use one of the following methods.

Manual- vs. Automatic-Valve Systems

To effectively drain your irrigation lines, you need to use the right technique based on the type of system you have.

Many irrigation systems include manual drainage components that let you flush water by opening a valve. If you have a manual system, start by shutting off the water Then, locate the manual valves at the end and low points of the piping. Open all the valves and drain every bit of water from the system, including the backflow device.

Certain types of sprinklers have check valves that allow water to flow in just one direction. If you have a system like this, you should elevate your sprinkler heads so water will fully drain. When you’ve finished draining the entire system, shut every single valve.

For systems with automatic valves, things are a bit easier. These are equipped with valves that will automatically drain water from lines once the pressure dips to a certain point. You can activate this handy feature by cutting off the water supply. You should then briefly operate a sprinkler head to relieve built-up pressure.

It’s important to remember that, even for automatic-valve systems, you still have to drain the water between the shut-off valve and backflow device. Also, if the sprinkler heads have check valves, these will have to be drained separately.

frozen grass in winter

Blowing Out Your Sprinkler Lines

Since even a small amount of residual moisture can freeze and damage irrigation lines during the winter, many people choose to have their lines “blown out.” This involves injecting air through the system to force water through the heads.

If you choose to do this yourself, you will need an air compressor with a rating of between 80 to 100 CFM, a coupler to affix it to your specific irrigation system, and a pair of safety goggles. Once you have all the necessary equipment, follow these steps:

  • Cut off the water to your systems.
  • Affix the air compressor to your system using the proper coupler.
  • Don’t force air directly into the backflow device, or you will damage the sprinkler system.
  • Move to the highest and furthest sprinkler station from the air compressor and activate it.
  • Shut every backflow valve.
  • Slowly open the valve on your compressor.
  • Slowly add more air pressure so you can easily stop the air supply if necessary.
  • Do not exceed 80PSI and avoid standing near active heads.
  • Once you see a burst of water from the active head, move to the next head, activating each one in turn.
  • Be sure to shut off each head when the water has stopped coming out.

Once you’ve finished, disconnect the compressor and let out all remaining air from the system. Open and shut every valve on the backflow device to release pent up air pressure.

Things to Consider

It’s important to recognize that the blow-out method can be hazardous to some irrigation systems. It can also be dangerous for anyone who hasn’t taken the right safety precautions. If you don’t have experience working with compressed air or irrigation systems, it’s generally best to save yourself from potential repair costs and injuries by hiring the professionals at RMPS Landscaping in Castle Rock to do the job for you. Contact our attentive, knowledgeable team to learn more.

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