Why Your Sprinkler System Needs to be Winterized

Monday, November 12, 2018
If you live in the northern half of the U.S. or in Canada, you know winter temperatures can dip well below 32°F. So, if you have a lawn sprinkler, you need to winterize it before the temperatures plunge to the freezing mark.

The Danger of Not Winterizing Your Sprinkler System
If you forget to winterize your sprinklers, you run the risk that water will freeze in the irrigation valves, pipes and sprinkler heads. When water freezes, it expands causing the parts of your system to burst and destroying your sprinkler system.

There are three different methods of closing out your irrigation system for the winter:
  • Manual drain method
  • Automatic drain valve system
  • Air blowout practice.

For this blog, we’re focusing on the air blowout process for winterizing your lawn water sprinkler. Most contractors prefer to the blow out method because it works on most systems.



How to Winterize Your Sprinkler System
Most lawn sprinkler developers recommend the air blow out system to winterize an irrigation system. Forcing air through the valves, pipes and sprinkler heads completely rids the system of water.

If you’re a DIY’er, you’ll need an air compressor that’s able to put out the right air volume and pressure at the same time. Shop air compressors are usually too small to get the job done—you’ll probably need to rent a larger compressor.
While you can blow out your system by yourself, it’s recommended that you hire a contractor to winterize your sprinklers for you.

If you decide to winterize on your own, make sure you know
  1. The gallons per minute (GPM) that flow through each irrigation zone. The GPM helps you know what size air compressor you need for the job.
  2. If you have a backflow preventer, you need to blow out the preventer too.
  3. Air volume is just as vital to blowing out your system as air pressure. You only want to blow out your sprinkler with the right amount of air volume.
  4. If you don’t use enough air volume after flushing some of the water out of the system, the air will rise to the top of the water. This air movement causes water to drain into the bottom. And if water flows down, it’ll freeze and put your system in danger of damage.
  5. You should only blow out your system one zone at a time.
  6. You run the risk of overheating the pipes and fittings as well as melting them if you blow out more than one zone at a time. And if your pipes and valves don’t burst right now, they may still be damaged.
  7. If the sprinkler heads stay above ground after you’re finished blowing out the system, you know that you used the right air compressor size for the job.


How an Irrigation Contractor Helps You Winterize Your Irrigation System

If you’re not a DIY’er or you’re new to owning a lawn sprinkler, it’s wise to hire a certified irrigation system contractor. They’re trained on how to design, install and maintain your system throughout the year.

Blowing out your sprinkler requires mechanical and technological knowledge dealing with air volume, air pressure, and figuring out the ratio between the two. You can quickly ruin your lawn sprinkler by miscalculating the air volume or using the wrong size air compressor.

You also need to practice safety precautions, such as wearing safety glasses and not standing over the sprinkler heads when blowing out the system.

Contractors usually charge a flat rate for their blow out services. The typical prices for hiring a certified irrigation contractor, according to HomeAdvisor.com, are
  • On average, contractors charge a flat rate of $51-$112.
  • The national average is $81.
  • The low end is $40.
  • The high end is $250.

K-Rain Helps You Whether You Blow Out Your System or Hire a Professional
At K-Rain, we help you winterize your irrigation system by connecting you to a sprinkler system contractor or by providing irrigation parts at our online store.

We don’t rent or sell air compressors, but you can find K-Rain parts at The Home Depot and at Lowe’s.

We have a support page that helps you find answers to your questions, or you can fill out a ticket for support. Call our customer service at 800-735-7246 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, or email us at customerservice@krain.com.

Source:
Higgins, M. and C. Swift, “Home Sprinkler Systems: Preparing Your Sprinkler System for Winter.



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