September 16, 2011

How to Winterize a Sprinkler System

Winterizing your Sprinkler System

Like skinning a cat, it is obvious that there is more than one way to winterize a lawn sprinkler system. The most important thing for you to know before you get started with whichever method you choose is to do it correctly. If you live in a climate that experiences a lot of frequent temperature changes, you must winterize your sprinklers effectively in order for your irrigation system to operate efficiently in the years to come.

Not winterizing your sprinklers correctly can result in the need for system replacements.

So take heed and observe the following methods of winterizing your sprinkler system.

Manual Drain Method

If you have manual sprinkler valve, the Manual Drain Method is for you.
  1. Shut off your water supply and open all your sprinkler system valves.
  2. As soon as the main irrigation line is completely empty, open the Stop and Waste Valve to extract ALL the water between the shut-off valve and back-flow device.
  3. Once all the water has fully drained, open the test cocks on the back-flow valve.
    • If you have check valves, allow water to drain from the bottom of each sprinkler body.
  4. There may be some excess water in the pipes, back-flow device and possible the Orbit sprinkler heads so be sure to allow extra time for those to drain out.
  5. Close all the manual drain valves

Automatic Drain Method

Use the Automatic Drain Method if you have automatic drain valves located at the end and/or low points of your irrigation pip.
  1. Lucky for you, these sprinkler valves automatically open and drain if water pressure is less than 10 PSI. But, to winterize you will want to activate your automatic drain valves manually.
  2. To do that, shut off the main water supply and turn on a sprinkler zone from your automatic water timer to release water pressure.
  3. Once all water has drained from the main sprinkler pipe, open the drain cap on your Stop and Waste sprinkler system valve to drain the rest of the water between the shut off valve and the back-flow valve.
  4. Open the Test Cocks on your back-flow device.
  5. Your sprinklers might have Check Valves. If so, pull up on the sprinkler bodies to let water drain from the bottom.
    • This is done because depending on where your sprinkler drain valves are located, there might be water in the sprinklers, irrigation pipe and back-flow device that need to be drained.

Blowing Out Sprinkler Pipes

This method is a bit more tedious and should be done only by a licensed contractor. If you insist on going with the this method, see the video below.

For extra safety, check out The Do NOTS of "BLOW~OUT" Winterization


Phil Goold is a retired landscaper of 30 years. He loves being outside more than anything else, except maybe pie. He enjoys connecting with other landscapers and gardeners because everyone brings something new and fun to the table. Connect with Phil on Twitter and Google+.

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