It is the time of year again to prepare your system for the winter. Please review this article to make sure that you follow all the steps necessary to avoid damage to your system. All sprinkler or drip systems that utilize valves, filters, plastic fittings, PVC pipe, poly pipe or drip hoses can easily burst if water freezes inside any of these components. This can prove costly to replace or repair. The following steps should be taken to minimize the risk.
Winterizing a sprinkler or drip system will take about fifteen minutes to an hour and must be done before the first freeze. A little bit of your time will result in a low maintenance irrigation system that will reduce the need for replacing frozen parts.
In extremely cold winters, freezing temperatures can severely damage your irrigation system and all the main water lines.
The goal in winterizing an irrigation system is to shut off the water supply to the system, and flush all of the water that is left in the system from the backflow device, valves, filters, main lines, sub-lateral lines, sprinklers, drippers and drip line.
When freezing weather is anticipated, simply turn off your main water supply to the irrigation system and make sure that the valves, backflow device, filter, pressure regulator, pipe, sprinklers, drip hose and drippers are free of water.
After the main water supply is shut down, run the timer / comtroller through its normal watering cycle. This will allow each of the valves to open and relieve water pressure on the main line and valves. allow the lines to drain slightly. After the timer / controller runs through its cycles, turn the controller off, or set to the Rain Off position.
The most important thing to do in very cold tempertures is to wrap all exposed pipe with insulating tape. The isulation should cover everything exposed up to the risers. However, it is unnecessary to wrap sprinkler heads or hose bibs.
Through the height of winter, leave the system off and drained. If needed, water your plants and lawns with a hose only. In most cases, there is enough moisture in the ground from rain to sustain the plants and lawn during the extreme winter periods.
Always drain a pump by opening the lowest plug or drain outlet (Replace with drain valve). Make sure to check that no water is left inside. Drain plugs are difficult to get to and remove, making an unpleasant project out of a simple task.
Along with the pump, drain the suction line. Pull it out of the water, drain it, and cover the open pipes to prevent creatures from making it a winter home.
Gate and Ball Valves
Will not tolerate freezing conditions.The gate valve, when closed, traps water in the bonnet, and the ball valve holds water inside the ball. If the valve is closed when water is in the line and the line drained without opening this valve, the water trapped above the gate or inside the ball will freeze and have no place to expand. A gate valve will split its bonnet and packing nut, or have a hairline crack down its side.
Are best winterized by leaving them open for the winter. The manual bleed lever on the valves varies by model and manufacturer, but is usually a thumb screw on top of the valve or lever on the side of the bonnet (cover)
Automatic Control Valves
Such as pressure reducing, pressure relief or combination valves, containing external control tubing, pilots, and other parts will require special care to thoroughly drain. If the entire unit can be easily removed from the pipe, it may be simple to store the unit in an inside location for the winter. If removing the valve or valve assembly is not practical, remove the control tubing connections in the lower part of the valve to drain all the parts of water. The valve bonnet should also be loosened or removed to remove all the water from the top of the diaphragm by un-tightening the screws on the top of the bonnet.
Disconnect the drip hose from the filter assembly and wrap the swivel adapter or the connection to the filter assembly with a plastic bag to prevent dirt and contaminates from entering. If the drip hose is installed above ground, open all the ends and allow the water to drain. Then lift the drip hose from the connection of the filter assembly, a few feet at a time and section by section, making sure that any water left in the drip hose will drain out. After you finish draining the drip hose and the micro tubing, make sure to close the ends of the drip tubing using the hose ends.
If the entire assembly can be easily removed from the pipe, the best option is to store the assembly unit from the controller to the pressure regulator in an inside location for the winter. If that is not practical, the valve bonnet should be loosened or removed to remove all the water from the top of the diaphragm. We encourage installation of control valves and assemblies using swivel connections so that these units can be easily detached and stored inside for the freezing months.