It’s Time to Winterize Your Sprinkler System
It’s that time of year again – time to think about having your home irrigation system winterized. In our area of South Texas, it’s not so much of a critical task, but we still have days when the temperature is below freezing, so preparing for a hard freeze is essential.
Why, though, should you winterize your sprinkler system? What’s involved? And is it something you can do yourself, or should you hire a professional? Let’s take a look.
Why Winterize Your Sprinkler System?
Every year, we get warnings about freezing pipes in our homes because the temperature is going to be below freezing or close to it. And we’ve all driven by homes in the winter where some sprinkler system has ran while it was below freezing causing a Winter Wonderland scene.
Fortunately, in South Texas, those days are not as frequent as they are in the northern regions of the country, but we still get them. Those are the nights when you open the cabinet under your sink to keep the pipes warm and run water through the night to ensure a free flow of water.
Your home irrigation system needs similar kind of protection. However, because most of the pipes are underground in your yard, safe from the Blue Norther that just rolled in, we sometimes forget about them. That’s why winterizing is so important.
Water left in exposed irrigation pipes will freeze, causing damage. You’ve spent a lot of money and time making sure your lawn, your hedges, and your garden are well-watered. You owe it to yourself to protect that investment and annually have your irrigation system ready for winters frigid blast.
What Is Involved in Winterizing Your Sprinkler System?
It’s easy to see where to protect your interior pipes during cold weather. Winterizing your sprinkler system for the season is much more important and not as easy as you think.
The main goal is to drain water out of exposed pipes or keep them insulated from temperatures that drop below 35 degrees. South of Austin most systems only need to have the Backflow Preventers insulated from the cold. These backflow preventers are usually located at the water meter or the irrigation systems’ point of connection to the potable water. Sometimes these backflow preventers are raised above ground. In such a case they are prone to freezing and bursting. An insulation bag or insulation material can be installed on these to keep them from freezing.
Another device that attaches to the backflow preventer is an automatic drip valve. These drip valves open automatically when the temperature drops below 35 degrees and creates a small steady stream of water that keeps the water moving through the valves preventing the water to drop below freezing. Used in conjunction with insulation will keep backflow preventers form being damage by winters frozen grip.
Another important irrigation system component is the Rain and Temperature sensor. In most areas it’s code to have a rain sensor on your irrigation system. A freeze sensor operates in the same way a rain sensor does. When the temperatures fall below 35 degrees the sensor will interrupt the electrical circuit of the sprinkler system and keep any valves from operating. This will suspend any watering until the threat of freezing temperatures is over.
If you have ever experienced the thrill of ice skating in cowboy boots you will understand the importance of not creating your own personal skating rink on the downhill slope of your stairs or sidewalk.
Winterize your watering schedule!
One more particularly important winterizing task that needs to be discussed is the winter watering schedule. Your lawn goes dormant, trees drop leaves, and we don’t want to be watering likes is Christmas in July. Most Controllers have a “seasonal adjustment” feature that allows you to cut back your watering time in percentages. In winter bring that water percentage down to 25%-50%. Over irrigating in the winter is just throwing money away. You can turn down the time and cut back the days to water to twice a month instead of twice a week.
Don’t forget that in most cities including San Antonio, your sewer bill is prorated in the winter-time. So any water you use gets thrown into that average for your yearly sewer cost. That really adds up when paying for it each month.
Key Points in Winterizing your sprinkler system in South Texas
- Protect any piping that is above ground.
- Install insulation bag and automatic drip valve on Backflow Prevention Device above ground.
- Install a Temperature sensor that will shut the sprinkler system down during freeze.
- Adjust your watering schedule to reflect landscape water needs in winter.
Let a Newsome LSS Winterize Your Sprinkler System
Contact us today and have your sprinkler system winterized.