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How to Winterize a Sprinkler System

Sujata Iyer Oct 17, 2018
It is essential to winterize your sprinkler system before the onset of winter to prevent damage to the pipes in the cold. Learn how to do it yourself in an easy manner.
If you have a garden outside your home, then you have obviously gone to a lot of trouble to install the best sprinkler system to take good care of it. So, you're also aware that your irrigation system needs to be 'winterized' as a mandatory step towards its long life and efficient functioning.
But you have no idea about how to do it or when to do it. Have no worries. Here are the answers to those questions for you.

*These methods are very basic and may be different for different sprinkler systems. Hence, professional assistance is recommended.

Methods to Winterize a Sprinkler System

Often times, during winter (whether it snows for a day or two or for a few hours), the pipes of your irrigation system are exposed to frost. This causes the water in the pipes to freeze and renders a lot of damage to the PVC piping, due to the intense pressure. Hence, you need to ensure that the pipes do not get damaged.
For this, first of all, you must make sure that you install a system that uses the appropriate material to make the pipes. The best option is a polyethylene one. It has the tendency to expand in extreme pressure. However, you must still winterize the system, else you'll have to go through a rigorous repair routine that may cost you a lot of money.

Method # 1: Manual

This is the most basic method to do it. During installation, you must have received some maintenance instructions. Go through them and check which method would be most suitable for your system. For the manual system, this is what you do.
✦ First, switch off the main water supply to the pipes.

✦ Then go and turn on all the manual drain valves on the pipes.

✦ By opening these valves, you enable all the water that is in the pipes to get drained out completely.
✦ After the water has drained from the pipes, go to the stop and waste valve and turn on the boiler valve.

✦ When you do this, also open up all the test valves connected to the back-flow instrument.
✦ This will help to drain any water that has remained between the main supply valve and the back-flow instrument.

✦ After you are sure that all the water has been drained completely from the entire body of the sprinklers, turn off all the drain valves on your system.

Method # 2: Automatic

An automated winterizing system is one that has an inbuilt detector, which can detect if the water pressure is increasing. When the pressure exceeds 10 PSI (pound-force per square inch), it automatically sends a signal that it needs to be drained and begins the draining process. Here are the steps to activate this automated system.
✦ First, go and shut off the main water supply.

✦ Then you need to pick a station to set off the pressure relieving system.

✦ All the water will get drained.
✦ Once the water is drained, you basically follow the same steps like the manual system.

✦ Drain the water from the back-flow device and the test valves.

✦Check the pipes thoroughly for any remaining water and drain it.
There is another method called the blow out method which can be used to winterize your sprinkler. However, it is better done under expert guidance or by a professional. Until then you can use the given methods which are quite easy to follow.