Be Ahead of the Game - Start Winterizing Your Sprinkler System Now!
Winter is coming, and with it comes the chilling reality of potential damage to your irrigation system due to freezing temperatures. It's not just about avoiding minor hiccups; failing to winterize your system properly could lead to costly repairs come springtime.
This article aims to give you a thorough, step-by-step guide to protect your irrigation system, including insights on insulating assets, controlling automatic systems, draining pipes, and safeguarding valves and backflow preventers.
Step 1: Insulate to Isolate – Protect Your Assets
Insulating the Main Shut Off Valve
Before anything else, turn off the water supply to your irrigation system. Locate the main shut-off valve. It is paramount that this valve is well-protected from freezing temperatures. A dual layer of foam insulation tape followed by a plastic bag should provide ample protection. Need a main shut-off valve? Now might be the perfect time for installation to avert future issues.
Above-Ground Piping Precautions
It's not just the valve; any piping exposed above ground should also be insulated. Self-sticking foam-insulating tape or insulating tubes available at home supply stores are excellent choices for this purpose.
Step 2: Control the Controllers – Stay in the Driver's Seat
Switching to "Rain Mode"
If your irrigation system is automatic, the next stop is the controller, the timer. Many controllers come with a 'rain mode'—this feature suspends the signal to the valves while retaining all your programmed settings and allowing the clock to continue.
Disconnecting the Master Valve and Common Terminals
Should your controller also operate a pump, it’s advisable to disconnect the wires connected to the MV (Master Valve) and common terminals. This precaution eliminates the risk of accidental pump activation, which could result in overheating and consequential damage.
If you opt to shut off the power supply to the controller altogether, be prepared to reprogram all the settings when you reactivate it in spring.
Step 3: Don't Let Your Pipes Freeze – Drain Them First
Understanding Drainage Options
You have a few pipe-draining options: manual drain valves, automatic drain valves, or the compressed air blow-out method. Removing all water to prevent freezing and expansion that could break the pipes is crucial.
Consult the Experts
Draining pipes might seem straightforward, but safety considerations are involved, especially with the compressed air blow-out method. It’s recommended to consult a local irrigation specialist. Many specialists offer dedicated winterization services during this season.
Step 4: Safeguard the Lifelines – Valves and Backflow Preventers
Insulating Valves and Backflow Preventers
If your valves and backflow preventers are exposed to the elements, they also need insulating. You can use the same insulation tape that you used for the main shut-off valve.
Air Vents and Drain Outlets
Be meticulous in your insulation. Ensure you don't cover the air vents and drain outlets on backflow preventers, as they are essential for proper function.
Ensure a Stress-Free Winter and a Smooth Spring
Winterizing your irrigation system is not an arduous task but requires meticulous planning and execution. With insulation, controlled shutdowns, thorough drainage, and expert consultation, you're not just protecting an irrigation system but safeguarding an investment. It's about giving yourself the peace of mind that when spring comes, your system will be as ready as you are to make your lawn and garden flourish.