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How to properly protect your sprinkler system in cold weather

Most people know that winter brings the need for special preparations, some of which are more fun than others. We break out the sweaters and dress warmer, we make sure that our heating systems are running properly and turn up the thermostats and we wrap our trees and plants with cloth so that they are insulated against the cold. Did you realize that a sprinkler system in cold weather is at risk for damage when the temperature dips too low? Fortunately, proper preparation helps in ensuring that your sprinkler system is not damaged by freezing temperatures. All it takes is a few steps, and you will save your sprinkler system from cold weather damages. 

Insulate the system

First, shut off the water supply that runs to the irrigation system. The main shut off valve for your sprinkler system needs protection against freezing, so wrap it with insulation such as a plastic bag and foam insulation tape. This protects it from the severity of winter and prevents it from freezing. For systems without a main shut off valve, installing one is a wise investment in preventing damage to the entire system. Any piping located above ground also needs insulation, which is easily done with self-sticking foam-insulating tape or foam insulating tubes. 

Control the situation 

Sprinkler systems that use an automatic timer must always be shut down. Most system controllers feature a “rain-mode,” which effectively shuts off the signals running to the valves without shutting off the power to the controller. While the valves will no longer activate and run the sprinkler, the controller continues keeping time, the clock continues running and all programming information is saved for reactivation. In addition, controllers responsible for activating a pump should always have the wires connected to the MV (Master Valve) and common terminals removed as a precautionary measure. Doing so prevents the likelihood of accidentally activating the pump, which could potentially cause damage from overheating. 

An alternative option to using the rain mode is, of course, simply shutting off the power to the controller. However, this requires reprogramming the time and possibly all of the other settings after turning the system back on in the spring.

Drain pipes

Removing water from the pipes and sprinkler system in cold weather is crucial in preventing them from freezing and expanding, which results in burst pipes. There are three methods used for draining pipes: a manual drain valve, an automatic drain valve and the compressed air blow-out methods. Due to the safety risks involved in draining the pipes, irrigation specialists should ideally handle this task.

Safeguard sprinkler system valves and backflow preventers 

Any backflow preventers and valves located above ground need insulation against the cold weather. Insulation tape is ideal for this, but it is important that air vents and drain outlets on backflow preventers are always kept clear and free of any blockages by the insulation.

As outdoor experts, the team at Executive Landscaping, Inc. has years of extensive knowledge and experience in getting our clients’ yards ready for whatever the winter season has in store. We understand the hassle of getting everything taken care of so that cold weather is not a worry, and we will gladly do everything needed for the protection of your sprinkler system in cold weather. We pride ourselves on the quality and timeliness of our work, and our clients rely on our abilities in making their landscape shine, regardless of the season. Creating a unique design that showcases their property is always our top priority, and our standard of excellence is what makes us a trusted name. 

Call Executive Landscaping, Inc. to learn more about protecting your sprinkler system in cold weather today!