Why do we blow out sprinkler systems before winter? Because the expansion of freezing water can burst pipes, damage valves, & destroy expensive backflow devices. The result: hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs, not to mention the potential for flooding next spring when the sprinkler system is activated. Although Pro Care’s sprinkler services are exclusive for our commercial clients, we’re happy to share our processes so homeowners can winterize their sprinkler systems the same way we would.
- Turn off water at the source. If you’re using city water, this will be a one of two valves about 3′-4′ underground near your backflow device (the other valve is the drain, which should already be closed). If you’re water comes from a homeowner association’s pump station, you’ll likely have just one valve connecting to it. Turn it off.
- Attach hose from air compressor.
- Open one sprinkler valve at a time while running your compressor. This can be done at your sprinkler controller or manually in the green valve boxes in your yard. Water will spray from nozzles, followed by mist. If you have rotor heads, close the valve before the mist runs out to prevent the gears from overheating or becoming damaged.
- Make note of any breaks, leaks, or malfunctioning heads. These will need to be repaired before activation next spring.
- When all zones are winterized, turn off the compressor & disconnect the hose. If using city water, open the drain valve next to the main (make sure you don’t accidentally open the main valve or you may have to redo the steps above). Also, open the test-cocks on the backflow device to 45 degree angles. This will allow what little water remains to easily drain out.
- Turn off the sprinkler controller.
You’re set! Now enjoy your favorite beverage knowing that your sprinkler system is put to bed for the year. Here are a few more tips:
- If you plan to rent an air compressor, reserve one early as they’ll be in high demand in the fall.
- Winterize your system before Halloween. You never know what November will bring. The polar vortex that enveloped the Treasure Valley for a week in mid-November 2015 caused a lot of damage to sprinkler systems that hadn’t yet been blown out.
- If you decide to hire one of the many unmarked trucks towing an air compressor through your neighborhood, do so with caution. Some of these are not professional companies & may not answer your calls or emails if they make a mistake that causes damage to your system. This is particularly true if the issue doesn’t manifest itself until the following April when you activate the sprinklers.
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