To keep your irrigation system safe during a long and cold winter, you must take the proper steps. The main part of winterizing is removing all water from the irrigation system. Pipes can burst if water is left to freeze and expand, so in order to make sure it’ll work in the spring, you have to take precautions.
The main valve to your irrigation system needs to be switched off to avoid freezing, and wrapped as well. You can use insulation to protect the valve, just use a plastic bag and tape to go around it. If you don’t have a main shut off valve, you can always install one as a preventative measure. You also have to insulate any above-ground piping. For this, you can use foam insulating tubes or insulation tape found at home supply stores.
If you have an automatic system, you need to make sure you turn the controller (timer) off for the winter. Many controllers have a rain mode which simply shuts off the signals to the valves. The controller continues to keep time and programming information is still there. The only thing it does is that the valves won’t activate. If your controller activates a pump, you should remove the wires that are connected to the master valve, as a precaution.
Draining the Pipes
Once everything is shut off, water needs to be removed from the pipes and sprinklers so that it won’t freeze in the cold weather and break your pipes. There are a couple ways to do this such as a manual drain valve, automatic drain valve, or the compressed air blow-out method. This part should be left to a professional because of the safety risks.
Make sure to insulate preventers and valves if they are above ground so they don’t freeze. You can use insulation tape for this, and be sure not to block the drain outlets or air vents on backflow preventers.
Winterizing your irrigation system can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. You don’t want to go to turn it back on in the spring and have it not work. Take the steps to make sure it is safe all winter long!R