Irrigation System Winterization

on Oct 20 in Yard News

Fall is the time of year to begin shutting down irrigation systems for the winter. Below are some helpful tips to make sure your irrigation system is prepared for cold weather:

The backflow unit is the U-shaped piping that sticks up out of your yard and is the only piece of the irrigation system that is exposed to the elements, which makes is susceptible to freezing and cracking. A damaged backflow can be a costly repair so it is best to winterize it to remove all of the water out of the system.

The function of a backflow is to prevent water from flowing back into the water supply. Without the backflow, fertilizers, chemicals and other waste can be drawn back into the irrigation system by the negative pressure that is created when a zone shuts off, which could reach our drinking water.

Here are the steps it takes to correctly shut down your irrigation system:

1. Locate and turn off the water supply. This is usually the water meter or ball valve that supplies water to your irrigation system, which is separate from the domestic water supply.

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2. With a flathead screwdriver, open up the bleed valves on the side of the backflow. You will know the valve is open when the screwdriver is parallel to the valve.

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3. With a set of pliers, unscrew the union from each riser pipe. Once this is completely loose, you can remove your backflow prevention device. If you do not have a union device in place, it is recommended to use compressed air to blow any remaining water out of the backflow. This will prevent water from freezing inside the pipes and cracking the metal.

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4. Cover the exposed pipes with a bag and seal with a rubber band. This will keep debris from getting into your irrigation system which could cause problems in the spring when you start up the system.

We recommend using compressed air to blow out the pipes to eliminate the need to remove and store a bulky backflow. In many cases, unions were not installed on backflow units so using compressed air is the only true way to ensure your backflow is protected through the winter season.

Following these steps will ensure your backflow device will work for years to come, however, we do recommend you use a qualified Irrigation Technician to winterize your irrigation.

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