To protect your investment in an irrigation system, you’ll want to be prepared for winter temperatures and possible freezing. The good news is, at the close of the active growing season, you can winterize your irrigation system and keep it safe from freezing to prevent costly repairs in the spring.
The process of winterizing your irrigation can be pretty straightforward, but if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, contact a professional.
The basic steps are:
- Turn off the water. This is usually done with a main valve near your water meter. If you have valves to prevent backflow, be sure to turn these off too.
- Turn off the timer. If your irrigation system was programmed to run automatically, you’ll need to turn this off as well. If you have a “Rain Mode,” this can usually be used throughout the winter so you don’t lose the programmed schedule.
- Drain the water. This is the most involved, and most important step. This removes water that remains in the pipes to prevent it from freezing and bursting those pipes. There are three primary methods of removing the water:
- Manual draining. These systems have valves at the end of pipes or low areas. Open one valve at a time and allow it to drain, then close the valve.
- Automatic draining. Some systems have a component that will drain when the main valve is shut off and the water pressure drops.
- Blow-out draining. This is typically done with an air compressor, but because pressure requirements are lower, it is highly recommended that a professional complete this service to protect the integrity of the system.
- Insulate above-ground components. This includes the main shut-off valve and exposed pipes or backflow preventers. They can be wrapped in foam covers or insulation tape.
Remember, any time you adjust or service your irrigation system, refer to the manual for proper technique and practices!