With the sun shining and just a dusting of leaves on the ground, it may seem too early to winterize your home sprinkler system. But don’t be fooled by the nice weather; a rapid drop in temperatures could spell trouble for your sprinkler system. Act quickly and complete the winterization process before it’s too late.
Winterization eliminates water from your sprinkler system to reduce the risk of cracks in PVC piping. Polyethylene pipes, while more flexible and often used in areas with cold weather, also rupture if a sprinkler system isn’t properly winterized. Simply draining the pipes isn’t enough because trace amounts of water can remain and damage the system. Tend to repairs regularly to keep your system in sound working condition at all times of the year.
Your outdoor sprinkler system is tied to your indoor water supply. This means cracks in the backflow pipes could allow contaminated water into your home. Also, remember that paperwork documenting the maintenance of your irrigation system will build confidence in potential buyers. This is just one more way in which you can edge out the competition and sell your home more quickly.
The Winterization Process
The best way to care for your sprinkler system is to understand the steps involved with winterizing. One of three methods the manual, the automatic, or the blow-out method is used to completely drain water from pipes and other components. The technique used depends on the type of valves installed on your system. If you’re not familiar with your valves, you’ll need to use the blow out method.
Manual and Automatic
To activate either manual or automatic valves, first shut off the system’s water supply. Manual valves require you to open each yourself, whereas automatic valves open on their own when water pressure dips below 10 PSI. Once the valves open, wait for pipes to drain. Then drain water from the backflow device, water shut off valve, test cocks, and sprinkler body.
The Blowout Method
The blow out method is trickier because it uses compressed air to force water out of each sprinkler station. Compressed air poses a danger to the untrained professional as well as your sprinkler heads. Protect your eyes from flying debris with safety glasses, and always keep a distance between you and an active sprinkler head. Start by shutting off the system’s water supply and fitting the air compressor to the mainline with a coupler. Note: you must use an air compressor rated at 80 to 100 CFM to successfully blow out the pipes.
Locate the sprinkler furthest from the air compressor and turn it on. Shut off the back flow valves and then slowly open the compressor valve. Gradually add more pressure to continue eliminating water. Make your way to each sprinkler zone and repeat these steps, saving the one closest to the air compressor for last. Once the water is out of all the sprinklers, disconnect the air compressor to relieve pressure in the system. Finish by leaving test cocks and isolation valves slightly open.
Call a Professional
If all of this sounds like another language or it’s simply too much work to fit in your busy schedule, we recommend you call a professional. Technicians can usually winterize your entire system in under an hour, saving you time. Many, although not all, guarantee their work so that problems caused by cold weather are fixed at no charge to you. For the guarantee to cover all repairs, your system must be free of prior malfunctions.
A professional will also inspect sprinklers to ensure the proper working order of each component. If a fault is found, immediate action will prevent more extensive damage during winter’s cold months.
Here is a shortlist of service providers in the Ann Arbor area ready to winterize your sprinkler system:
124 W. Summit St., Suite F, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Lead time for an appointment is 1 week. The cost is $65 for up to 12 zones, and work is guaranteed to next spring.
Serving all of the Ann Arbor area
Lead time for an appointment is at least a couple of days, depending on where you live. The cost is $72.50 for up to 10 zones, and work is guaranteed.
3780 Morgan Rd., Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Lead time is about 1.5 weeks. The cost is $86 for up to 10 zones, and work is guaranteed provided nothing is previously wrong with your system.
Top Flite Irrigation
592 Sycamore Circle, Saline, MI 48176
Lead time is about 2 weeks. The cost is $75 for up to 10 zones, and work is guaranteed.
10000 Jackson Rd., Dexter, MI 48130
Lead time is about 2 weeks. The cost is $90 for between 9 and 15 zones. Work is guaranteed if your system is winterized prior to the first hard frost and you contract Daily Rain to reactivate the system in spring. Packages are available for multiple services, starting with the bronze deal at $175 for both winterization and spring reactivation.