Your lawn sprinkler system is one of the most important parts of keeping your yard looking beautiful, but during the winter you could end up facing big problems with that system if you haven’t taken the proper precautions.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way. A friend of ours installed a sprinkler system in his yard last spring only to have the pipes freeze during a cold spell. The pipes bust and ruined his sprinklers which had to be completely replaced. That cost him a pretty penny, but it also taught me the importance of winterizing my lawn sprinkler system.
Your lawn sprinkler system isn’t any different from any other pipe in your home. If water freezes within the pipe, it’s going to contract and put pressure on that pipe. With enough pressure, the pipe is going to rupture.
The idea of winterization is to make sure all of the water is out of your lawn sprinkler system before the temperature starts dropping into the freezing domain. Even a little water left in those pipes can cause you major problems in the spring – you MUST make sure your sprinkler’s pipes are water-free.
How to Winterize Your Lawn Sprinkler System
In some parts of the country where freezing is most likely to occur, your lawn sprinkler system has probably been equipped with a method for winterization. Many places make this a mandatory feature on all irrigation systems sold. If you’re not sure, then contact the retailer or installer of your system to make sure you use the correct system. If you’re not sure, you may want to hire a contractor to use the “blow out” method on your system. Basically, this method requires the careful use of an air compressor to push all of the water from the pipes. You can rent the compressors, but you may be better off watching a professional handle it the first time so you can learn what to do during the winters to come.
Your other options are to use the manual or automatic drain methods (which option you choose depends on your particular sprinkler system). For the manual method, you need to open up several valves strategically placed along your sprinkler system. All of the water should come out on its own so wait until you don’t see any more water then close all of the valves again. With the automatic method, the valves will open when you shut water off to the system. You may still need to open a few valves by hand.
Keep in mind that some lawn sprinkler systems use a combination of the manual and the automatic drain methods.
Remember that winterization needs to be done before the temperatures start to drop. That’s why it’s a good idea to do your winterization around the same time you start getting your lawn ready for winter. You don’t want to be surprised with a sudden cold snap that ends up damaging your lawn sprinkler system before you have a chance to drain out all of the water.