Your sprinkler system surely is of much use to you. It waters your lawn so conveniently and efficiently that it gives you time to spend on yourself or on your family. It also reduces the work you have to do everyday, reserving your energy for more important tasks. But the system didnt come cheap. You spent precious dollars on it to be installed. You may even be the one who manually dug up your lawn for your pipes; installed and connected the pipes from the mainline to the branches; and connected each part of it from the basement up. Much work had been done to keep it up and running. You made, and are willing to make all the necessary steps to ensure that it will work for a long time. That said, it is very important to perform lawn sprinkler winterization before the cold season comes along.
Winter weather freezes every drop of water that it touches, even the ones underground, and inside the pipes of your sprinkler system. When water freezes inside the pipes, it expands and causes the pipes to crack, rendering the system unusable when spring comes. Aside from the pipes, equipment such as the expensive backflow device, mainline and shut off valves will also be damaged by frozen water. You should not wait for this to happen before you do something about it; after all, to winterize sprinkler system is easy to do.
Winterizing your sprinkler systems is done by forcing out all the water left in the pipes and other parts. There are three alternatives you may choose from to winterize your sprinkler system. These are manual drain, automatic drain, and the blow out methods. Remember, though, to shut off the irrigation water supply first before continuing with any of the steps.
The manual drain method uses the manual drain valves. Once the mainline is drained, open the boiler drain valve to drain all the remaining water between the shut off valve and backflow device.
The automatic drain method on the other hand uses the automatic valves located at the low points of the piping. These will automatically drain water when the pressure inside the pipes is less than 10 PSI. Shut off the irrigation water supply then activate a station that relieves the system pressure. This drains out the mainline. Then as in the manual drain method, open the boiler drain valve to drain the water between the shut off valve and backflow device.
After any of the two methods is done pull up the sprinkler heads to drain the water out to the bottom of the sprinkler heads body.
The blow out method utilizes an air compressor to force air into the pipes and push the water out of the sprinklers. After all the water in the mainline is drained, drain the water in between the shut off valve and backflow device. Then go over all the stations in the system again to make sure there is no water left in any of the pipes. If needed, you can contact a licensed contractor to perform this method, however there are a few things to be careful of with some fly by night contractors.
With a large air compressor it is important to have a pressure regulator hooked up to the unit. This is due to the fact that the air compressor can put out 125 psi pressure. Qualified contractors will only pump 60 psi air into the system. This is roughly equal to normal water pressure. Bad companies will turn on all the valves and blow the very high pressure through the system. They do this to make their visit quick. If a contractor comes to you house for lawn sprinkler winterization and only stays 5-10 minutes then they likely used this method. Using the high pressure method for lawn sprinkler winterization damages the system and wears out the components. In the springtime, the home owner is left with lawn sprinkler repair bills because the damage done during the lawn sprinkler winterization is usually not repaired by the original company that caused the problem.
A professional lawn sprinkler winterization company will likely do one zone at a time with 60 psi regulators on the air compressors. This method takes on average of about 20 minutes to perform properly, and it will cost almost twice as much. However it saves costly lawn sprinkler repair bills in the future.
The final step in lawn sprinkler winterization is to clean the sprinkler heads and store them in a dry place after you complete the lawn sprinkler winterization steps. When the winter season has gone, you will want to run water through your system for a few minutes to flush out all the dirt and debris collected over time, as well as drive away any rodents or snakes that may be living in the pipes, since the sprinkler heads were removed. Taking care of the system by performing professional lawn sprinkler winterization can avoid lawn sprinkler repair bills when the cold Michigan winter takes hold. Take care of the system and it will take care of your lawn for you.
More information about Scott Halahan and Old Faithful Sprinkler Systems:
Scott Halahan started the Old Faithful Sprinkler Systems company in 1990 while attending Central Michigan University, majoring in Economics/Marketing. He went full time with the business in 1993 and since that time he has grown the business to include a complete set of services including lawn sprinkler installation services, lawn sprinkler repair, sprinkler winterization, sprinkler blowout, and replacement parts and service of all the top brand names like Rainbird, Toro, Hunter, and Weathermatic. Scott currently lives with his wife, and daughter in South Eastern Michigan.