If you use a sprinkler system to water your lawn, it is usually important to have a few plans regarding how to prepare it for winter. Leaving it as is could have several consequences particularly if you live in a very cold part of the world. When water cools, it tends to expand. Since the sprinkler system is in the outdoors, it will be subjected to these very low temperatures. This in turn means that the risk of damage to the entire system will be high. You may find your pipes splitting on account of the expansion of the water within them, necessitating very expensive repairs.
To avoid this, you need to prepare the entire system for winter. This normally involves removing all the water from the sprinkler system, or making it less likely to expand when subjected to very low temperatures.
The process of drainage
Draining the system is usually the most preferred way of preparing it for winter. There are several ways of doing it, the most popular of which include using manual drainage and the use of valves. With the latter, one depends on gravity to slowly push the water through the piping to the end. In order for it to work, the sprinkler system needs to have been perfectly designed, so that all the pipes slope downward without any kinks in them. However, the fact that the pipes tend to settle soon after installation means that you may never be sure about their position particularly if they are underground pipes. This makes this method of drainage not very reliable.
The use of pressurized air
Rather than depending on gravity, you can choose to use pressurized air to push out the water from the pipes. This method of drainage can be used on a large number of systems, and does not depend on the layout of the same. In order to use it, you will need to supply the appropriate volume of air in the right pressure so that it can then push water through the entire system.
If you opt to use this method, you should keep in mind that both the pressure and volume of air are critical in determining the success of the process. If you compromise one for the other, you might not get rid of all the water from the system. If you do not have the right equipment to do the job, it might be wise to consult a sprinkler specialist to do it for you. The ideal pressure required for drainage ranges between 40 and 80 PSI, with higher values being necessary for more rigid pipes such as those made of PVC. If you supply a lot more pressure than this, it could end up damaging the system by blowing the nozzles off.
Turn off your water
In addition to getting rid of water in the pipes, you will also need to completely shut down the water supply to the sprinkler system before winter. How you do this will depend on the type of sprinkler system you have in place.
Drain the pump
There are some sprinkler systems that have pumps to make them more efficient. If you happen to have one of these, you need to drain water from the pump in addition to doing all the above. If too much water is left in the pump, it could flow down into the pipes. Freezing of this water and that which might be in the pump could result in damage, and make it more difficult to use the system after winter. The instructions on how to drain the pump are dependent on the make and model of the pump, so you might need to refer to the user manual to do it safely. In addition to draining, you might also need to have it insulted, particularly if it’s not designed for use in very cold climates.
Get a system designed for use in cold climates
If you are building the sprinkler system for the first time, you could also buy one that has been made for use in cold climates. These are usually made in such a manner that doing all the above will be very easy. Consulting your contractor is usually the best way to figure out which makes are ideal for this.
In summary, preparing your sprinkler system for winter is very important particularly if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on repairs. Always consider getting the help of a specialized contractor to carry out all the above processes and more. This way, you will be sure that the entire process will be carried out without risking harm to the system, and in such a manner that the effects of winter will not destroy the sprinkler system. You will most likely find that most contractors will not charge a lot to handle this for you.