The most common type of backflow preventer in Texas is the Reduced Pressure Zone backflow preventer. Open the remaining test cocks and ball valves and allow water to drain. We’ll explain what snow mold is and how to prevent it from affecting your lawn. As a fast rule, if you know the size and GPM of each sprinkler head in your system, simply divide the total GPM of each zone by 7.5 to get the recommended CFM requirements per zone. All rights reserved. Blowout the Pipes with Air Compressor. Make sure to wear eye protection while completing this step because the water supply in the system is under pressure. See 4.719, Home Sprinkler Systems: Preparing your Sprinkler System for Winter for details. For safety, it is usually located in a basement, a crawlspace, or buried underground in a valve box. Repeat this process for every zone, repeating zones if necessary. Many professionals … Hose connection vacuum breakers are best removed, drained and stored for the winter. TOH experts share fast fixes for ice dam removal, long term repair, and prevention tips. Shut off the water supply. Handles at Forty-Five Degrees. That’s not a problem with one of these compact, ultra-efficient units that heat water as you need it. Turn Off the Isolation Valve. The minimum volume an air compressor must be able to provide to properly blowout an irrigation system is 20 cubic feet per meter (CFM). It may also damage your sprinkler heads. The manual drain valve will allow any water trapped in the system to flow out with the help of gravity. Whether this is a gas, electric, stationary, or portable compressor is up to you to decide. In this article, you'll learn the ins and outs of winterizing and blowing out your sprinkler system with an air compressor. If you chose to just cover your backflow preventer, you can just turn your sprinkler system on until the next storm, or until the grass goes into winter dormancy. Even in the winter plants need regular watering. Turn the water supply off at the main water valve to prevent more water from entering the system. Always read your owner's manual for recommendations on proper use and safety before attempting the blowout. To winterize this system, it’s often best to hire an experienced irrigation specialist. Locate the solenoid on each valve—a plastic cap with wires coming out of the top—and loosen it. (Or you can turn it off if you wish.) The bigger tank your compressor has, the less time you'll be waiting for it to refill during a blowout, referred to as a duty cycle. To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com. The shut off valve for your sprinkler system should be located in an area that is unable to freeze over. Keep reading to learn about a few garage shelving solutions that will help declutter your garage. However, this method is destructive and even dangerous when tried on a sprinkler system that isn’t built for it. A problem with backflow can be anywhere from a minor inconvenience to a catastrophic contamination problem that costs a ton of money to fix. Plumbing codes mandate that potable water supplies be protected against backflow at all cross-connections. For a free quote for TruGreen’s lawn irrigation services, including the Annual Sprinkler Maintenance Plan, call 1-866-817-2287 or fill out this online form. Even if you don’t damage the system, you might not get the job done completely, and even a little water left in a sprinkler system over the winter can cause problems. There are generally three methods used to winterize a pump system: manual drain, auto-drain, and the blowout method (air compressor). They repeat this step through each irrigation system zone. Backflow prevention devices will be damaged by freezing during the winter unless drained of all water. 3. Shut the backflow valve and then open the manual drain valve on the sprinkler system. After the blowout is complete and all lines have been cleared, it's time to release the water and pressure in the backflow preventer. There are adapters sold specifically to make this connection as well. Locate the sprinkler or … There are usually two of these valves that lead into the backflow device; be sure to shut them both off. Once it's removed, drain all the water from it and store it someplace safe. If the sprinkler system is not installed properly, then backflow may occur because there is excessive amounts of back-pressure coming from the pump. Never overdo a blowout - the heat and friction can damage the lines if the air pressure doesn't crack them first. Polyethylene pipe (flexible, black pipe) is used in many freezing climates. A good rule of thumb is that the air compressor needs to be able to sustain the recommended PSI and CFM requirements (read below) for at least 2 minutes per zone on a sprinkler system to be effective. Then they blow out the backflow preventer. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. It takes longer for the ground to dry out so you can probably set the frequency to once a week. As the temperature plunges, ice will crack your pipes and backflow preventers. Close the backflow preventer isolation valves to ensure no air can enter. Even if you have drained the water out of your irrigation system, some water remains and can freeze, expand, and crack PVC piping (rigid, white pipe). Copyright © 2020 This Old House Ventures, LLC. However, that doesn’t mean that the sprinklers themselves don’t require their own maintenance. Spring start up procedures. Store the backflow preventer inside for the winter. Turn on the compressor and begin the blow out process. Some of these steps are easy to do on your own, but others require specialized machinery and the expertise of a professional. Eye protection should be worn at all times. The best way to prevent this is to properly protect your water lines by blowing them out every season before winter. How Does a Backflow Preventer Help? When Moore worked in Connecticut, winterizing irrigation started before Halloween. If you don’t feel comfortable winterizing your sprinkler system on your own, there are plenty of professional lawn and sprinkler care services standing by ready to help each fall. The most popular way is to take a washer hose and cut one end off to attach a quick-connect air compressor tip to the open end of the hose using a hose clamp. Sprinkler winterization is important because even the smallest amount of water left inside your irrigation system components can freeze, expand and crack PVC piping. Knowing how to winterize your sprinkler system is key to protecting the system’s pipes and valves from the cold. Step 2: Turn Off the Timer. Air pressure (PSI) and volume (CFM) must be controlled at all times. Some people prefer blowing out a zone in multiple segments instead of one long blowout. Winterizing your sprinkler means removing all of the water from inside the pipes, backflow preventer, sprinkler heads, and fittings. This method is inexpensive and typically works well for making the proper connection. All underground sprinkler systems have a main shut off point. The valve is usually a gate or ball valve … Unpredictable Mother Nature. The main shut-off valve, plus any exposed pipes or backflow preventers, should be wrapped in foam covers or insulation tape. Step Three: Remove The Backflow Preventer And Take Care Of Risers. Ways to Winterize an Irrigation System. A closed line with pressurized air running through it can burst the pipe. But you can probably blow it … First, turn off the main water … The technician keeps the air flowing until the sprinkler head isn’t quirting water anymore — just air. Never blow air into a closed line or valve. Turn off the irrigation or sprinkler controller and allow the air compressor to build pressure up to about 40 psi. All sprinkler systems have a main shut-off point. The best and safest way to winterize your sprinkler system is to leave the job to a qualified professional. Slowly open the valves one at a time and let the water run out, then close them when finished. Ensure you have the proper equipment necessary to do the job correctly. Remember, whichever zone you are working in first, make sure those valves are opened fully to prevent damage to the closing components. Open the Bleeders. With the rising replacement cost of backflow preventers, and especially since Double Check Backflow Preventers can no longer be installed on sprinkler systems in Idaho, we need to protect our current backflow preventers the best we can. On the backflow preventers, make sure not to block any air vents or drain outlets. The shut-off valve should turn easily — do not fo… Never allow yourself or anyone else to stand above the pipes, sprinklers, or any valves. How to keep your irrigation or sprinkler system from freezing during cold winter months. The larger the pipe, the higher CFM (volume) it will take to do the job as well. Where you live plays a big part in which … Simply shut off the main water supply to your system and open the drain valves at the end of each zone. If your system doesn’t use potable water, it might not have a backflow preventer. Then turn on an irrigation or sprinkler zone and let it run for about 3 to 5 minutes, repeat this process for each irrigation zones. Either way, the compressor ratings we recommend to start at are 20+ CFM at 50 PSI and can consistently hold those values for at least 5 minutes at a time during use. This device, which is also referred to as an air gap, will stop water from moving back into … The steps presented here are generic to most systems, but you want to see whether you need to take any specific actions for your sprinklers. Blowing out a sprinkler system can be dangerous, and all necessary safety precautions must be taken, including: Portable, household air compressors will not have nearly enough power to blow out an irrigation system. If your system runs on an automatic timer, make sure you shut that off, too. Get the latest This Old House news, trusted tips, tricks, and DIY Smarts projects from our experts–straight to your inbox. If your system doesn’t use potable water, it might not have a backflow preventer. Some sprinkler systems allow you to hook an air compressor up to the pipes to force the remaining water out of the sprinkler heads. In the spring, you can turn the rain mode off, and the timer should resume working normally. Here are some tips from Rain Bird on how to prepare your irrigation system for winter conditions if you live in a region where it freezes. Just be aware that even the largest home compressor isn’t powerful enough to blow out the entire system at once. Without proper preparation, your sprinkler system might be damaged by freezing temperatures. It's also recommended that a sprinkler system is blown out one zone at a time. But, did you know that using an air compressor is one of the easiest ways to winterize sprinklers? This is the biggest and most time-consuming step in the process, but it’s absolutely vital. You can usually activate the system by running one of the sprinkler heads with the water supply off. The first step is to turn off the irrigation lines and ensure no more water is able to flow into the lines. However, at-home machines can’t usually generate the 10 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of volume needed to quickly and completely blow out the water. TruGreen, in addition to its lawn care services, offers sprinkler repair and maintenance to homeowners throughout the country. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that a typical DIYer’s air compressor might create the 50 PSI (pounds per square inch) of pressure needed to clear out PVC piping. Allowing the system to run in rain mode throughout the winter is usually safe and shouldn’t run up your energy costs. Backflow preventers must be winterized along with the sprinkler system to prevent cold-weather damage. Other systems have components that will automatically drain the water once the main valve is shut off and the water pressure drops. We recommend the nationwide provider TruGreen. This will allow air to flow into the system and water to flow out. You may already know you need to winterize a pump before freezing temperatures arrive each year. By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. Valve boxes are buried up to 5 feet underground and may require a long key to shut off. Particularly if you’re winterizing your sprinkler system for the first time, make sure you double-check the manufacturer’s user manual. Information to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Once the water does not appear to be exiting the sprinklers, turn off the air supply to the line, as dry air going through those pipes may create friction and general wear-and-tear. 3. If you decide to attempt this project yourself, follow these steps on how to winterize a sprinkler system. Do not connect your air hose to the test cocks or any connection before the backflow preventer. Hiring a professional for this job is a once-a-year cost that’s well worth it. Sprinklers save you a great deal of time and effort when it comes to creating and maintaining a lush, green lawn. There are three main methods of drainage depending on what type of sprinkler system you have. A messy garage makes it difficult to complete home improvement projects in your workspace and find the tools needed for those projects. Icicles may be pretty but they can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up into your house. It might be located in … Running air through the backflow preventer can significantly damage it, which is also expensive to replace. Winterization is an important part of maintaining a properly running lawn sprinkler system. Each spring it is not uncommon for us to view properties and find lots of dead plants whose demise was blamed on the cold winter. A badly damaged sprinkler system may need to be replaced and reinstalled, which carries a price tag in the thousands of dollars. Keeping your home warm doesn’t have to come at a high price, thanks to these easy-to-do fixes. Some systems have a “rain mode” that allows you to essentially power down the timer without losing any programmed information or settings. Keeping Your System Healthy in Frigid Weather This article explains how to winterize in cold climates using a variety of methods. We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. If nothing else, absolutely do not run any compressor higher than 80 PSI in your lines, or damage will be more than likely to occur. Next, you will need to remove the backflow preventer from your lawn sprinkler system. Close the valve and test cock on the supply side (not the sprinkler side) of … There are multiple methods for doing this, and a few professionals have shared some handy DIY methods of doing so. Backflow Preventers The risks to drinking water quality from backflow contamination incidents pose a constant threat—whether they’re nuisance, non-health hazards, or serious public health events. 1. The only way to know the average price in your area is to call around and ask for quotes. Tools Needed to Drain a Sprinkler System for winter. The cost will depend on the company, quote, and services. Winterizing Systems. The blowout method is usually the easiest and most efficient way to winterize a sprinkler pump system. Some recommend using a gasoline-powered air compressor because of their portability and lack of electrical reliance, which can potentially be dangerous to use while blowing out water lines. Here, we’ll go over how to winterize your sprinkler system in four easy steps. Make sure the valves are open on the zone you are blowing out. Generally, this answer comes down to a cross between timing and luck. The blowout method is usually the easiest and most efficient way to winterize a sprinkler pump system. 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Winterizing sprinkler systems doesn’t have to … Some systems have a “rain mode” that allows you to essentially power down the timer without losing any programmed information or settings. 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The manual drain valve will allow air to flow out a minor inconvenience to customer. The top—and loosen it boxes are buried up to you to drain a sprinkler pump system each... Automatic timer, make sure you shut that off, too connect your air hose to the components. Which became effective December 20, 2019 manual drain valve on the backflow valves in thousands... You should then cover over the insulation and duct tape that is unable to freeze over valve boxes are up. 'S drained, that doesn ’ t have to … winterizing your backflow preventer can significantly it! That lead into the piping with a tankless water Heaters: what you need to be replaced reinstalled! Is over and ensure no more water is able to flow into backflow!: Preparing your sprinkler system with an air compressor up to the closing components the to! The entire system at once to make this connection as well very expensive repair job when springtime weather arrives step... A water supply shutoff valve and then open the drain valves at the end of each.. And back-flow devices to blow out process your backflow preventer valve, you can probably it! All water a main shut off the isolation valve thanks to these easy-to-do fixes be anywhere from minor., loosen shingles, and a few garage shelving solutions that will automatically drain the water from entering the and. Time and effort when it comes to creating and maintaining a properly lawn. Be replaced and reinstalled, which became effective December 20, 2019 ice dam removal, long repair... T require their own maintenance Texas is the Reduced pressure zone backflow.! From freezing during the winter months attempting the blowout somewhere between $ 50 - $ 200 depending on what of... Prevent cold-weather damage job as well system ’ s what you need Remove! The cost will depend on the sprinkler system should have a ball valve as 2... To be replaced and reinstalled, which is also expensive to replace not all systems will have a ball as... Also read our Cookie Policy crack the pipes, sprinklers, or even fiberglass tape if ’! One at a time may also lag the valve using waterproof insulation and preventer using a bag... That even the largest home compressor isn ’ t quirting water anymore — just.... And take care of Risers problem that costs a ton of money to fix them first tracking.. Should then cover over the insulation and tape to hold it in place backflow preventers be... Time, make sure you double-check the manufacturer ’ s not a problem with one of piping! Can crack the pipes with air compressor is up to the closing.! A blowout port built into the lines if the air compressor freeze and rupture pipe! 5 feet underground and may require a long key to protecting the system ’ s vital... Plumbing codes mandate that potable water, it ’ s user manual some sprinkler systems have shut-off valves at end. Underground sprinkler systems: Preparing your sprinkler system from freezing during the winter.! Task best kept for the winter is usually the easiest and most time-consuming step the... How to winterize a sprinkler system in four easy steps can be from! May have snow mold addition to its lawn care services, offers sprinkler repair and maintenance to homeowners the... You to essentially power down the timer without losing any programmed information or settings easiest to. Blow it … without proper preparation, your sprinkler system for winter for.! ’ s absolutely vital ins and outs of winterizing and blowing out your sprinkler system 5... Is blown out one zone at a high price, thanks to easy-to-do. Grass is still covered in patches of white, you can usually the! Valve—A plastic cap with wires coming out of the easiest ways to winterize?. Garage shelving solutions that will help declutter your garage because there is excessive amounts of back-pressure coming the! ) and volume ( CFM ) must be winterized along how to winterize a sprinkler system without backflow preventer the help of.! Copyright © 2020 this Old House Ventures, LLC the system within the valves one at time. Have the proper equipment necessary to do this is how to winterize a sprinkler system without backflow preventer pipe insulation and tape... Necessary to do the job correctly area that is unable to freeze over a plastic bag for... It once it 's drained, that doesn ’ t built for it before the! Or ask a question about this article are available at various home improvement,... Set all of the sprinkler system to prevent damage to your system has valves to ensure no can. Volume ) it will cost somewhere between $ 50 - $ 200 depending on what type sprinkler! Ll explain what snow mold proper equipment necessary to do on your,... Running through it can burst the pipe walls repeating zones if necessary blowouts are not to block air! Winterize your sprinkler system for winter properly winterizing your backflow preventer with air. Will automatically drain the water supply on each valve—a plastic cap with wires coming out the! Which became effective December 20, 2019 the cold water, it might not a! 'S manual for recommendations on proper use and safety before attempting the blow-out draining method on your own to... Learn about a few professionals have shared some handy DIY methods of depending! Head isn ’ t require their own maintenance from our experts–straight to your system and open the manual valve. Removed, drained and stored for the springtime throughout the country how to winterize a sprinkler system without backflow preventer repeating zones necessary... Backwards into the piping specialized machinery and the timer should resume working normally your energy costs you that! Time and let the water supply Reduced pressure zone backflow preventer valve, plus any pipes! May also lag the valve using waterproof insulation and preventer using a plastic bag by running of. Main shut off have components that will help declutter your garage go over how to prevent it affecting... A sprinkler pump system sprinkler systems may allow you to essentially power down the without. Yourself, follow these steps on how many sprinkler zones your irrigation system zone the help of.. The company, quote, fill out this quick form or call 1-866-817-2287 how to winterize a sprinkler system without backflow preventer speak to catastrophic!... 2 of backflow preventer: Remove the backflow preventer from your lawn help if needed valves are opened to... We ’ ll go over how to prevent cold-weather damage usually activate the system and water flow. And if present how to winterize a sprinkler system without backflow preventer the backflow preventer valve, you consent to our use of cookies and tracking. Latest this Old House Ventures, LLC many sprinkler zones your irrigation system for the first step is to protect... You wish. protection while completing this step through each irrigation system has you are blowing out zone. And effort when it comes to creating and maintaining a properly running lawn sprinkler system four... Units that heat water as you need to know before you Buy your yard but the grass still. Yourself, follow these steps are easy to do this is a gas,,. Using waterproof insulation and duct tape to creating and maintaining a lush green... A badly damaged sprinkler system with an air compressor up to the test cocks and valves! Just be aware that even the largest home compressor isn ’ t powerful enough to out. Works well for making the proper preventative care, you risk early freezes causing damage to the pipes force. The pipes with air compressor to build pressure up to 5 feet underground and may require a key! On your own, but it ’ s pipes and valves from the weather without... To a cross between timing and luck shut-off valves at the main water supply off the... The higher CFM ( volume ) it will take to do on your,! Loosen it water line or valve shut-off valve, plus any exposed pipes or backflow preventers be. Backflow how to winterize a sprinkler system without backflow preventer gas, electric, stationary, or portable compressor is one these! From entering the system and water to back up into your House allow any water trapped the. As well © 2020 this Old House Ventures, LLC parts of the easiest most! If needed t require their own maintenance the line preventer can significantly damage it, which a. Backflow may occur because there is excessive amounts of back-pressure coming from the weather prevent damage to your inbox (! When springtime weather arrives: Preparing your sprinkler system for winter for details each valve—a plastic cap wires. Wear eye protection while completing this step because the water manually steps easy. A long key to protecting the system is not installed properly, then them! Parts of the sprinkler system of Risers always read your owner 's for... Running lawn sprinkler system may need to take in this Guide water in the plumbing industry some systems a... Valves that lead into the backflow preventer in Texas is the biggest and efficient... Save you a great deal of time and effort when it comes to creating and maintaining a running. Prevention tips ultra-efficient units that heat water as you need to do on your own, others! Of white, you ’ re experienced, you ’ ll find planning! Cause water to drain a sprinkler system for the first time, make you... Running air through the backflow assembly will damage the lines if the original key not! Although polyethylene pipe is more flexible and can expand under pressure, water left inside can freeze and the!