It is extremely important to winterize an irrigation system to preserve the money you put into it. Winterization is the process of preparing anything for the winter months. It is especially important to winterize irrigation systems to avoid water freezing in the pipes. Frozen blockages have a high chance of causing damage to various points of the irrigation system. However, there is no need to worry. We are here to help you through the process to winterize your home system. Read on to learn all about winterizing the irrigation system in your home.
Shut It Down
The first step, which is perhaps the most important, it to turn off the water supply to the irrigation system. Without shutting off the supply, it makes the rest of the process essentially impossible. There should be a main shut off valve for the system. The shut off valve should be located somewhere in between the main shutoff valve and the sprinkler output.
To ensure that this step is not undone, ensure that any automatic irrigation systems are also shut off. There is a main controller for the automatic system which can either be shut off or put in “rain-mode”. If it is shut off entirely, homeowners will need to reprogram the system for spring. However, rain-mode simply prevents the sprinklers from going off without losing the programming.
It is very important to insulate the piping that connects your irrigation system to the rest of your plumbing. There is often an above ground portion, which is where the water supply valve is located. First, use foam insulation tubes or foam insulation tape to wrap around the above ground pipes. Then, wrap the insulated pipes in a plastic covering to preserve the insulation through wind, rain, and snow.
Additionally, backflow preventers and valves need to be insulated as well. Backflow preventers protect potable water from dirty water. If any of these pipes are left uninsulated, homeowners run the risk of leaks or bursts. Obviously, this is much more difficult to repair in the winter when water is bitter cold and ground is hard.
Clear Out The Pipes
It is not winterizing for irrigation systems without a full clear out of the pipes. Clearing out the water prevents the pipes from freezing solid with water over winter. While in Florida, it rarely gets cold enough for a frost to coat the ground. However, underground is cooler, so the water in the pipes is more likely to freeze. There are two primary methods for clearing out the pipes, although it is a job left to the professionals
a) Manual Drain Method
This option is the simpler options, but the more time consuming one. Simply open the lowest points of the irrigation system up and let the water drain out. Here, gravity and time is the greatest assistant.
b) Blow Out Method
The blow out method is when an air compressor is hooked up to the irrigation system to force the water out. While it is significantly faster than manual draining, it really should only ever be completed by a professional.