Seasonal tip from ALCC- How to get your sprinkler system ready for winter.

Seasonal tip from ALCC- How to get your sprinkler system ready for winter.

Posted by Jonathan Manning, CLT - B.S. Horticulture, Colorado State University in Uncategorized

Seasonal tip from ALCC- How to get your sprinkler system ready for winter.

A Better Garden Maintenance, LLC
Denver, CO

Winterizing most sprinkler systems is in the $100 range or less and goes a long way in helping you avoid costly water damage and repairs. Repairs caused when your sprinkler system freezes can be many times that amount. Plus, depending on what freezes, you may be looking at water damage to your property.

So when you think about putting your landscape to bed for the winter, the sprinkler system needs to be high on your priority list. Each year, many Colorado homeowners have serious water damage when the sprinkler system left in summer-mode freezes in November or December. This headache is followed by expensive repairs to the sprinkler system itself that could have been avoided by taking some precautions.

Instructions for getting your sprinkler system ready for winter

Wrap the backflow prevention (BFP) device located outside to keep it from freezing before your system is fully winterized. If temperatures get into the freezing range, wrap the BFP with and old towel, cover it with a plastic trash bag and tape it in place. This keeps the device dry and helps to prevent freeze damage prior to the winterization.

Shut off the water to the sprinkler system. There’s usually a shut-off valve inside the house in the basement.

Drain the system using the valve that’s inside your house – usually in the basement.
Look at the valve shut-off and know what kind of valve you have:

Ball valve. This type of valve is more reliable in terms of freeze damage.

Gate valve. This valve is very common in Colorado and can often be defective even when the valve looks like it’s turned off. When the small washer inside wears out, water will slowly drip and accumulate to the point where if there is a freeze, the part can burst and lead to serious water damage. Have an expert check out this valve.

Draining the system is not enough. Some people think that draining their sprinkler system is all they need to do. But even when you drain the system, water often stays in the pipes and even in the sprinkler heads. When that water freezes, much of your sprinkler system can end up damaged and needing expensive repairs. That’s why it’s best to play it safe and get your sprinkler system winterized before freezing-cold weather sets in.

Use the right size air compressor. Winterizing is done with an air compressor-and because of the equipment, usually requires the help of a landscape contractor. Many homeowners have small-sized compressors in their garages (for paint guns, nail guns, and so forth), but generally, these compressors don’t have the capacity to create the volume of air required to push the water out of a sprinkler system.

Technically speaking, the rating of pounds per square inch (psi) does not determine the compressor size you need (common misconception). What you really need to determine if a compressor is strong enough to be effective is the measurement of cubic feet per minute (cfm) which is a measure not of pressure-but of volume.

To be adequate on a residential property, a compressor needs to be in the range of 100-500 cfm. The psi should be no more than 80 psi or the heat generated could melt the fittings. Before you let you neighbor offer you the good-buddy special to winterize your sprinkler system, check out the size of the compressor because a small compressor may not be up to the task.

Once you have the right size compressor, the final step is to hook it up to the sprinkler system. The compressor will be used zone-by-zone to push air from the compressor into the sprinkler lines which will in turn push water out of the pipes and out of the sprinkler heads. Getting all the water out takes 1 to 3 minutes per zone. This is the best way to make sure your sprinkler system has no water in it that can freeze, create damage and lead to costly repairs.

This article is republished off the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (

22 Sep 2009 no comments

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