It’s that time of the year again. The temperatures have already dropped below freezing once this fall, heavier clothing is beginning to be worn, and maintenance for your home’s heating system has to be performed. The trees are beginning to lose their leaves in preparation for the coming winter weather and many boats are being winterized and taken out of the lake.
As you prepare yourself and other parts of your home for the coming changes in weather, you also have to remember to look out for your lawn sprinkler system. That costly investment you made to keep your lawn looking lush during the spring and summer months is highly susceptible to damage during the cold winter months.
So, what needs to be done?
1. Insulate the system.
Begin by shutting off the water supply for your lawn watering system at the main shut-off valve. You will need to protect your irrigation system’s main shut-off valve.
It should be wrapped in insulation, and it’s also a good idea to buy or build some kind of cover for it as well to help protect it against those long cold spells we get from our Missouri winters. It will need to be able to withstand subzero temperatures. In case you don’t already have a main shut-off valve, it would be a good investment to add one to your system to help you avoid expensive future repairs.
If you have any pipes above ground these will also need to be well-insulated. There are some effective and handy foam insulating tubes available at local big box stores, as well as some self-adhering foam insulating tape products. But best by far is to bury your pipes whenever possible.
2. Further shutdown is necessary.
Technology has helped a great deal around both our homes and our jobs. In this case, it has helped automate when the sprinklers come on and go off. You will need to shut down your automatic controller (the timer) if you have one installed.
A good number of these controllers have a “rain mode.” In this setting, no signals will be sent to the valves to let water through. The controller will still be functional, keeping its timing and programming, but it will not activate the valves.
In case you do have a pump attached to the system, you will need to remove any wires connecting the two. This will prevent the pump from coming on and getting damaged as a result of excess heating.
3. Expel water from the system.
The next step is to force water out of the irrigation system. Unlike other materials that contract the cooler the temperatures get, water behaves differently. It will contract up to 39 degrees Fahrenheit, but then it will expand as it turns into ice. And we all know that this expansion can cause serious damage to your irrigation system.
You can use a manual draining valve or the automatic drain valve if you have one installed in your system. The best method, when done correctly, is to use compressed air as this will expel every drop of water in the system. If your system does not have a blow out valve fitted, it would be best to have one fitted before using compressed air.
4. Protect the other components.
Yes, the valves and backflow prevention devices also need your tender love and care as we’re headed toward winter, so be sure to read up on all the details involved with your specific system. Or, better yet, you can contact a professional company like Heartland Landscape Group to come and service your system for you. Then you can rest easy knowing that it will be done correctly.
Remember, you will be in a much better place with regard to cost and labor if you can correctly prepare your lawn irrigation system in the fall rather than needing to repair damaged components in the spring. And if you need some assistance, please don’t hesitate to call us; we’ll be glad to help.