You have put a lot of time and money into your yard to reap the benefits of beautiful landscaping and a green lawn. Because your sprinkler system is an integral part of maintaining your hard work, it is important to avoid any sprinkler and irrigation system repairs come next spring. To do this, you should be sure to winterize your system before temperatures drop below freezing.
1. Insulate valves
The first thing you should do is shut off the water supply to your irrigation system. Next, it is extremely important to insulate your main shut-off valve to protect it against freezing. To do this, you can simply wrap the valve with insulation products, such as some foam insulation tape and a plastic bag, to ensure the extreme winter temperatures cannot cause freezing. If your system does not have a main shut-off valve, you should consider installing one as it can help you to avoid expensive sprinkler and irrigation system repairs.
Additionally, you should be sure to insulate all piping that is above ground. You can use foam-insulating tubes or foam-insulating tape to protect your pipes from freezing. However, if possible, the best option is to bury the piping.
2. Rain mode
If you have an automatic system, the next step in irrigation system winterization involves shutting down the controller or timer. Most systems can be shut down by simply switching the controller to the rain mode. This setting turns off the signals typically sent to the valves. That said, although this step effectively shuts down the system, your controller will continue to keep time throughout the winter. As a result, any programming information, such as valve run times and start times, is preserved. In fact, you can rest assured that the only change to your sprinkler system is that your valves will not be activated.
However, if your controller activates a pump, you should be sure to disconnect the wires to prevent accidental activation. Accidental activation could lead to overheating and cause serious damage. To disconnect, you can simply remove the wires that are connected to common terminals and the master valve.
If you do not have a rain mode, you can simply shut off the power to the controller. However, if you use this option, you will mostly likely need to re-program all of your settings as well as the schedules.
3. Drain the system
The next step in sprinkler system winterization is to remove any water left in the sprinklers and pipes. If water is left behind, it will freeze. Frozen water expands and poses a serious risk of breaking your pipes.
Although frozen water poses a serious risk, there are a variety of ways to drain the water from your pipes. Depending on your system, you can use the blow-out method, which uses compressed air. However, since draining your system can pose serious risks to your safety, it is recommended that you contact a professional to complete this step in your sprinkler system winterization program.
4. Backflow preventer and valves
The last step in an irrigation system winterization plan is to insulate above-ground backflow preventers and valves. You can use insulation tape to protect against freezing, but you should be careful to not block any drain outlets and air vents.