The key to protecting the pipes and valves from the cold lies in winterizing your sprinkler system. Cold days are here, and it is crucial to do the entire process properly. Luckily for you, we are here with an array of valuable tips and suggestions.
Why is sprinkler maintenance so important?
If you’ve always wanted to maintain a green, lush lawn, you need an operational sprinkler system. Doing regular maintenance is a necessity. Now we will go into the details of the winterization process. These are all very useful tips for new homeowners.
Turn the water off
If you live in an area where the temperature drops below freezing, shutting the water valve is a crucial step. If you miss this step, the water supply in the sprinkler system will freeze and damage it.
All sprinkler systems are connected to the main valve near your water meter, so this is the first one to turn off. Furthermore, some systems also have valves for preventing backflow, and you also need to shut these off if you have them. There are usually two that lead into the backflow device.
Turn off the timer
More advanced sprinkler systems use timers. The timers turn the system on and off and set the work mode. You need to turn the timer off, so it does not start the sprinklers. If the metal parts freeze, this could damage the system. If this happens, and you notice that the sprinklers are damaged, never try to repair them on your own. This is one of the main don’ts of sprinkler maintenance.
Do have in mind that turning the timer off often deletes programmed settings. However, some systems have a “rain mode”, which allows you to keep your settings.
Drain the Water
After you cut the water supply to the sprinkler system, you need to drain the remaining water that is already in the system. This process will take a lot of time, but it is a must. Never let the water stay inside your sprinklers over the winter. If it freezes, you can throw the sprinklers away.
You can drain the water in three different ways:
- Manual draining: systems that allow manual draining have shut-off valves. The water inside is under pressure, so always wear eye protection before opening the valves. Once the water runs out, shut them off.
- Automatic draining: when it comes to automated systems for draining water, they do almost all the work by themselves. As soon as the water pressure drops, the system activates and starts draining. If the system does require activation, you can do it by running any sprinkler head with the water supply off. However, there is one thing to have in mind. After the draining, some water will still stay under the valves. This happens due to the pressure inside. What you need to do is to loosen the solenoids on each valve. Once the air comes inside, the remaining water will flow out.
- Blow-out draining: the third option is possible just on the sprinkler systems that allow you to connect an air compressor to the pipes. While this is a fantastic option for systems that support it, if you try it on a sprinkler system that is not built for this, you will damage it and even hurt yourself in the process. Another piece of advice is to never attempt it on your own. The DIY compressors can never generate the right amount of pressure to drain the system. Always call your plumber, because they have professional equipment.
Insulate the components
All of the components that are above ground need insulation over the winter. No matter how well you drain the system, harsh weather will always affect it and cause damage. With that in mind, use plastic covers to protect the sprinklers from the wind. You should also put foam covers or insulation tape on the pipes.
Packing your sprinklers for a winter relocation
If you are moving during cold weather, you need to get your belongings ready for packing. When packing the sprinkler system, it is crucial to consult the sprinkler manual. This is even more important if you are doing this for the first time. Draining the system and packing it will require time.
It is always a good idea to read the manual before attempting anything. You should also watch videos of people doing winterization or packing to better understand how it is done.
Should you do the winterization process on your own or hire a professional plumber?
Even though we explained all of the steps of the process, you should consider hiring a professional plumber for this.
The first reason is that a plumber has all the necessary equipment. Second, they will do all the steps by following correct procedures. And third, they have more experience.
While you can do all of this by yourself, always call a plumber if you don’t feel confident in the process. It is better to pay a little extra than to have to purchase a new sprinkler system because you made a mistake.
Final thoughts on winterizing your sprinkler system
Let’s do a little summary. The first step is to shut off the main valve, and any backflow valves your system has. Second, you need to drain all the water that remains inside. Pick the method your sprinkler system is built for. Next, turn the sprinkler timer off, and insulate all the above-ground parts. Finally, before attempting anything, always consult the manual or watch videos of people doing the winterization process. If you are not confident enough about doing it yourself, call a plumber. Follow these tips for winterizing your sprinkler system, and you won’t have any problems during the winter!