When to Winterize Your Sprinkler System and Other Great Questions

Sprinkler systems are an easy and effective way to provide our lawns with the water they need. But, because they are automated, out of sight, and out of mind, they are easy to forget about.  Unlike the water pipes that run through our homes, our irrigation systems must be winterized by performing an annual sprinkler blowout to avoid damage that won’t be discovered until the spring.

When Should I Winterize My Lawn Sprinkler

If you are a current Heritage client and are enrolled in our irrigation system maintenance program, you will be automatically scheduled for your winterization, along with the rest of the systems annual maintenance, to ensure it is not forgotten.

For homeowners who are not a part of this program, this is your reminder to schedule your blowout, spots fill up fast!  The last week of October and the first week of November are traditionally the busiest weeks here in Kansas City.  Most systems are shut down between October 1 and Thanksgiving.  If you have components like your backflow preventer above ground you will want to be earlier as even a hard frost can damage your system.  If your system is all below ground you can wait a little longer.  

If you have not already chosen a company to winterize your system, remember to ask these question before you book:

5 Questions To Ask Before You Winterize Your Lawn Sprinkler

  • Do you have a pressure regulator on your air compressor? How much pressure do you run?
    • Sure, Old Faithful is beautiful but maybe you should wait until next summer to get your fountain project started. When blowing out a system any more than 80 pounds of pressure is dangerous to the sprinkler heads and connecting pieces. Which could mean that even though you did your part winterizing you will still end up with cracks and leaks this spring.
  • Do you have experience with MY brand of backflow device?
    • The backflow device is what keeps your drinking water separate from the water which drains through your lawn. You want to ensure whoever is working on your sprinklers has experience with YOUR backflow brand to keep it from being damaged during the winterization process.
  • Will you drain the pipes in my basement?
    • The two most common areas that a sprinkler system can be connected are in the basement off your main water line and outside next to your water meter. If your system is connected in your basement this is an extremely important question to prevent freezing and later flooding in your basement.  Luckily, if your backflow is connected near the water meter the pipes are deep enough they won’t freeze.
  • Are you familiar with MY brand of sprinkler system controller?
    • Just like your backflow device, there are numerous brands out there and each brand has different qualities. Some controller manufacturers recommend unplugging the controller while others say just set it to the “off” position. Protect your system’s specific needs to avoid problems later on.
  • Will you set an actual appointment?  Do you repair systems as well as blow them out?
    • These two questions will highlight the professionals.  If the answers are “I will be there between 8 and 12” or “Ummm, I only specialize in blowouts” they probably aren’t the right guys for the job. Look for someone who can tell you “I will be here at 8.” and “If I break something, I’ll be back to fix it! Even if you don’t find the error until next spring.” That type of professional is there for you in the long haul which will benefit both you and your irrigation system.

Do Auto Drain Systems Need to be Winterized?

Some homeowners have what is called an “auto drain system” which can lead them to believe that it will automatically drain. This is an understandable misconception, unfortunately the truth is, only half of the pipes will drain out automatically (from the valve to the head) but the main line portion will still need to be blown out. By only draining half of the water, there is a chance that not enough water has been drained to protect the system. There is also always the chance of a malfunction that could cause the sprinkler system to not drain at all. Your irrigation system is an a big investment, don’t leave it to chance, having the system winterized will put your mind at ease.

“The weather man says it is going to freeze and my sprinkler system isn’t winterized, help!”

Don’t panic! If you see there is a freeze warning on the news but your irrigation system isn’t scheduled for it’s blowout until next week, you’re not doomed for damage. All you need to do is insulate your above ground backflow device or any exposed pipes with old towels, sleeping bag, or blankets by loosely covering them. This will protect your system until an Irrigation Professional can winterize it.

If You Have a New System Be Sure To Check This

In the last few years, the Heritage Coaches have stumbled upon drain issues with newer systems.  Several of these newer systems have been tapped into the water line in the home’s basement but don’t have a drain valve installed.  The best explanation for this is the contractors are trying to save money, but your irrigation system needs its own drain. Each fall, the water needs to be drained from the outside down into the basement where things don’t freeze. If their isn’t a drain this becomes difficult. If you notice your system does not have a drain or you are unsure if it has one, contact a professional to create a game plan for winterizing your system this year.

Contact Your Heritage Coach, Today!

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