Winterizing your irrigation system is an important part of home landscaping maintenance. Irrigation systems, particularly, automated ones, help give your plants the consistent moisture needed to thrive while saving water at the same time.
They are quite a costly investment. Thus, it is important to winterize your irrigation system as the ground cools and winter steps in. Seasonal freezing and thawing is a real concern during winter and this might damage your irrigation system, resulting in expensive repairs. Weatherproofing your system will protect against costly repairs in the future.
Usually, any moisture within the components of your irrigation system can freeze and cause damage. The aim of winterizing is to drain the complete system so no water can freeze to expand or burst the pipes. If you are uncomfortable performing the procedure yourself, some irrigation and landscaping companies offer services to winterize your irrigation system.
If you wish to do it yourself, you will want to learn how to winterize your complete irrigation system to ensure it is working during the next planting season. Starting your winterization process about the time that autumn leaves are falling is usually the best decision.
Use these tips to save you time and money:
1. Turn off the Main Water Supply and Drain the Lines
When winterizing, start by turning off the main water supply to the system as well as its controller or timer before going ahead to drain all the lines.
Most irrigation systems will have a drain valve at the lowest end of the system. So, open all manual valves to let all the water drain out that there is no water left in the tubing. Be sure to elevate all fittings slightly to ensure they are fully drained.
Automatic drains have flush valves installed at the low points in the line. This drain will open and drain any water remaining in the lines as soon as the system is shut off. Just make sure these valves are functioning well.
2. Blow Out the Water Lines
To drain the lines, you can also use compressed air from a typical home-size air compressor to blow out the lines. Be careful with this step. A landscaping professional is the best option for doing this to avoid damaging the components when too much air is put in the system. Any professional landscaper who is qualified to repair irrigation systems is ideal.
Before blowing out the lines, remove all end fittings to avoid any damages to the system; close manual drains after blowing them out.
3. Remove the Faucet Assembly
After draining water from the irrigation system, go ahead and remove the faucet assembly completely to avoid them being damaged or getting corroded. They include the timer, filter, and pressure regulator. For battery-powered devices like timers, it is recommended to remove the battery over winter.
Bring any non-attached parts into a garden shed or garage afterward to protect them from freezing temperatures.
4. Seal off Open Water Lines
Once all the lines have been drained, seal off any openings using a secure barrier, like a plastic bag or a female hose plug to seal a female hose start fitting. This will prevent dirt and critters from entering the system over winter.
5. Winterize Other Watering Equipment
If your irrigation system consists of other watering equipment like watering cans, garden hoses, hose-end nozzles and hose splitters, it is important to drain all these items and store them where they will not freeze over winter.
Also, disconnect the hose from the faucet, especially if the faucet is connected to the house. Insulate all exterior faucets with a secure cover, typically tightened in place with wing nuts.
During the winter, your trees and shrubs might still need adequate irrigation. Thus, having a hose on hand for such times, especially when the ground is warmer is advised. But remember to drain the garden hose again before storing it.
6. Make Repairs Before Storing Irrigation Equipment
Take time to inspect your watering equipment and repair them before storing to ensure you’re ready for irrigation once the ground gets warmer!
We hope this article helps you better understand the process behind winterizing your irrigation system. Be sure to set everything up again once winter is over so you can automatically irrigate your lawn and plants.