Winterizing Your Drip System
The only time you 'need' to do anything for winter is if your area freezes or has hard frost.
What you need to worry about is the water freezing in any of the components. If you have a system on seasonal crops where you need to work the soil then the entire system needs to be picked up and placed out of the way but that is something other than "Winterizing".
For winterizing the main goal is to make sure that your system is drained of water. This does not mean every little drop of water must be taken out! The purpose of draining is so any water left inside will not cause harm when it 'expands' while freezing.
Here is how you can go about draining your system.
Head Assembly / Water Connection
You will want to open something on your head assembly or to disconnect it if you will be taking it inside for the winter, A good idea but not required. This is done to allow air into the system to replace the water you will be draining out, otherwise you will create a vacuum and water will not drain out.
* If you have a controller/Timer on your head assembly we would suggest to take the complete assembly inside a garage or storage area.
*If you are leaving an automated valve outside try to get as much water out of it as possible. Some valves have small water passages which help the valve open and close.
Now open all the 1/2" poly tube line ends and allow the water to drain out.
* If this will not drain all the water you can use a LOW PRESSURE air hose or you can even blow into the tube to push out the remaining water.
* You do not need to get every little bit of water out, just so none of the hose is filled. Remember, water expands when it freezes so it could split the tube if enough is left inside.
* If you have lower areas between the water connection and the line end you could place a Tee in the line with a short piece of tube and a line end so you can open it each year to drain out the low point.
* If you have drippers on the line in the low spot then they will help to drain the water. Watch all your drippers on the low part sometime when the system shuts off and see if they drain water out slowly. Once they stop pick up the tube and feel by the weight how much water is left in the tube, this will give you a good idea how much may be left.
* Once you have all the water out replace the line ends so the ends are sealed, you do not want dirt or bugs getting into the system.
* If you have removed the head assembly to store inside you need to seal off the poly tube end that was attached to the head assembly. Here also we want to make sure no dirt will get into the system.
* If you do not remove the head assembly make sure to drain out the filter canister, valves and other components which may hold water.
Next spring make sure to flush out the system by opening all the line ends and turning on the water. While the water is running close off the line ends starting with the closest one to the water source and working your way to the furthest one away.
* Use this as a good chance to replace any backup battries in AC powered timers or the main batteries in any battry powered timers.
* Good to check the programming on the timer after replacing battries to make sure it was not lost. Maybe make some changes in the programming if you found issues last year you never got around to fixing.
By following these simple guidelines you should have a well running system that can last many years.