Three Ways to Winterize Your Sprinkler System

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For many of you, a green lush lawn is your pride and joy. It evokes spring and summer time memories. Memories of your kids playing or a family barbecue. And you sure go to great lengths to care for your lawn. Like investing in a sprinkler system, which also has to be protected. As the seasons change and the temperatures start to drop, we move from outdoor fun to indoor hibernation. And you need to make sure to properly put away your sprinkler system.

With recent freezing temperatures affecting most of the U.S., you need to protect your sprinkler system. The Chicago Tribune reports, “As seasons change, freezing water can cause catastrophic damage to sprinkler system pipes, causing them to burst. This can result in an expensive, stress-inducing repair process.” These systems are out of sight and out of mind. And it’s easy to forget about them. It’s important to take a few steps to avoid damage.

Here are some tips to winterize your sprinkler system:

When to winterize your sprinkler system

As seasons change, the cool air is a great indicator you need to be alert for colder temperatures. These drop significantly at night. Keep a close eye on weather forecasts. When temperatures approach the freezing point at night, consider draining your sprinklers or blow the water out through the sprinkler heads with an air compressor.

How to winterize your sprinkler system

There are a few methods for winterizing your sprinkler system depending on the type of system you have.

Man working on sprinkler with green grass and mulch

Manual Drain Method

Some irrigation systems feature a manual drainage. These systems allow you to drain excess water from the pipes by simply opening a valve. If you have a manual drain irrigation system, follow these steps:

  • Shut off the water supply to the system.
  • Look for the manual valves at the ends and low points of the system.
  • Open all the valves and let excess water drain from the system.
  • Make sure you also drain the backflow device.
Rotating Lawn Sprinkler. Automatic Grass Watering Systems.

Automatic Drain Method

An automatic drain system has a mechanism that allows you to drain excess water from the pipes. The system will do this only when the water pressure falls below a certain number of pounds per square inch. To activate the automatic drain feature, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the water supply.
  • Run one of the sprinkler heads to reduce the water pressure in the pipes.
  • Automatic draining should begin, clearing the pipes of excess water.
An air pressure gauge laying on the floor with black and yellow hoses

Blow-Out Method

With this method, you force compressed air through the pipes of your irrigation system. This expels extra water through the sprinkler heads. It is important to note that you need the proper type of irrigation system that can handle the pressure from the compressed air.

This method can be hazardous for both your system and the operator. Take proper safety precautions to avoid injury. If you’ve never worked with compressed air before, consult a professional. Once you’ve taken the necessary safety precautions, follow these steps:

  • Cut the water supply and attach the air compressor to the irrigation system using a coupler.
  • Find the sprinkler station highest and farthest from the compressor and turn it on.
  • Close the backflow valves.
  • Slowly open the valve on the compressor.
  • Gradually add more air pressure. That way, you can cut off the air supply quickly if needed.
  • You should start seeing water coming out.
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