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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

How To Winterize Your Sprinklers

12/4/2020 (Permalink)

When frost levels reach below the depth of irrigation systems, any leftover water in the lines can freeze and cause damage. You may even end up with flooding in your basement if your sprinkler lines burst due to expanding ice. 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. 

Three Ways to Winterize

There are three fundamental methods for draining water from your irrigation system. The method you should choose depends on the kind of irrigation you have installed beneath your yard. If you’re not sure what type of system you have or don’t feel comfortable winterizing on your own, contact a professional. Otherwise, you can winterize your system using one of the following methods.

Manual Valves

Certain irrigation systems have manual drainage features that allow you to flush excess water from the system by opening a valve. If you have this type of system, first, cut off the water to the system. Next, find the manual valves at the low points and end points of the piping. Open every valve and drain all the water from the system (include the backflow device).

Some sprinklers are also equipped with check valves that let water flow in one direction only. If you have this type of system, you will probably need to elevate the sprinkler heads to allow water to drain from those mechanisms. Once you’ve thoroughly drained the entire system, be sure to shut all of the valves.

Automatic Valves

Some irrigation systems are built with valves that automatically drain water from the pipes whenever pressure falls below a specified number of pounds per square inch. If you have one of these systems, you can activate this feature by shutting off the water supply and briefly operating one of the heads to relieve the pressure in the system. Bear in mind, you may still have to drain all the water between the backflow device and shut-off valve. If the heads have check valves, you will have to empty those separately.

Blow-Out Method

Commonly used to winterize sprinkler systems, the blow-out method involves forcing compressed air through the entire irrigation system to push water through the heads. 

For this method you will need:

  • An air compressor with a rating of 80-100 CFM
  • A coupler that properly fits your irrigation system
  • Safety goggles

Start by shutting down the water supply and then use the coupler to connect the air compressor to your irrigation system. Do not blow compressed air directly into the backflow device. 

Next, locate the sprinkler station farthest and highest from the compressor and turn it on. Shut all the backflow valves, and then slowly open the valve on your air compressor. Gradually add more air pressure so you can quickly cut off the air supply if necessary. Be careful not to exceed 80PSI and don’t stand near any active heads while you are blowing out an irrigation system.

If things are working correctly, you should see a burst of water from the active head. Starting with the furthest head and working toward the compressor, activate every head in turn, shutting each one off again when the water stops coming out. Once you’ve finished with every head, disconnect the compressor and release any remaining air from the system. Open and close all the valves on the backflow device to let out pent up air pressure.

Things to Consider

Bear in mind that this method can be hazardous to certain irrigation systems and anyone who tries it without taking the right safety precautions. If you haven’t worked with compressed air or have no experience blowing out irrigation systems, save yourself from potential repair costs and injuries by hiring a professional to do it for you.

Unfortunately, when sprinklers burst due to freezing water, they can cause basements to flood. If you’ve suffered flooding, the experts at SERVPRO of Denver West can help restore your home to its original state. Contact our skilled team of experts to learn more.

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