Irrigation System in the Winter
Many homeowners have sprinkler systems and in the winter time, many of them have experienced the consequences of a hard freeze or below freezing weather. The problem affects your system not when it is initially turning into ice but as the ice melts. That’s when it is common to see bursting pipes and water spraying in large amounts. Yes, that’s our money being wasted.
After a hard freeze is over is commonly when you will be on your way to work and see water spraying in places it shouldn’t. This is a common problem.
It is important to winterize your irrigation system before it gets to such low temperatures your pipes are at risk for turning into icicles. If you forget to call a sprinkler company and request for this service, you will have an increased risk for bursting pipes, hoses, and equipment holding your water outside your home. When homeowners try to do it themselves, they will follow some video to winterize their home. I did it one year, and the thing the video didn’t cover was removing the water that is already in the system. It is important to purge all the water out of your sprinkler system using an air compressor. Most air compressors purchased at local stores like lowes don’t offer a compressor strong enough to remove all the water in your system. If you still plan to do this yourself, you need to use your air compressor at each zone to remove all the water in zone 1, 2, and 3. Each one will have to be done separately to be successful. If you don’t want to do this tedious task you have a third option of renting a larger air compressor from a hardware store or you can just simply call a sprinkler technician to do the work for you.
Since a sprinkler system costs thousands of dollars to install, I find it is not worth the few dollars I save to do it myself. If you fail to winterize your system correctly, your pipes will burst. You will call a sprinkler company after hours to bail you out. You will then be rewarded with a more expensive bill to fix your system. All this can be avoided by calling a licensed sprinkler technician to do the work they trained for. Check Texas irrigator’s license at the TCEQ Website. If you leave any water in your pipes, the pipe will expand as the ice freezes, and then when the weather is warm the ice melts. This causes your pipes to burst. Don’t let it get to this point before you do something about it.
If you still insist on winterizing your system, set your air compressor to maximum 80 psi for rigid PVC pipes unless you have flexible polyethylene pipes. If you have the latter, set your regulator to 50 psi. You need to shut off your water and set your system to open each zone with a timer. If you happen to have a manual drain valve for each zone, open that. Finally, connect the airline to the blow out port. Once connected, add the other end of the hose to the compressor and turn it on. You will notice the water purging. This is what you want. You will also see the sprinkler heads pop up and blow out the water too. Once the system is empty, the water will stop blowing out. Your system is not winterized. You can have a worry-free winter. One tip is not to let the compressor run for a long time, the heat it generates can actually melt your lines. Once you have finished each zone you are completely done with your entire system.