Winter is coming, and if it’s anything like the rest of the year, it’ll be a whirlwind of unexpected events that you could easily do without. To prevent any surprises this winter, especially concerning your home, you’ll want to learn how to prepare your sprinkler system for cold weather.
If you’ve engaged in some fall lawn care, chances are that your lawn itself will be properly protected and fertilized. However, that’s got nothing to do with your sprinkler system. Once the first frost hits, you’ll be glad you followed these five tips in order to protect your investment in your home’s irrigation system.
How to Prepare Your Sprinkler System for Winter Weather
1. Handle Repairs Before Winter
Shutting down your sprinkler system for the winter means dealing with repairs before the freeze sets in. After all, you’ll want it to be sturdy enough to withstand rain, sleet, and snow. So, take time before the first frost to repair pipes, sprinklers, and anything else that needs to be repaired. Having a solvent cement on hand helps with PVC pipe repairs, but for anything else that’s a bit more complex, it’s best to hire out irrigation services to let an expert work their magic. Plan ahead for this as most irrigation contractors might not currently be attending to clients on a full-time schedule.
2. Insulate Your Sprinkler System
Let’s take a step back here. It’s important to mention that before insulating your sprinkler system or winterizing it in any way, you’ll need to turn off the water supply. This is because you need to also insulate the main shut off valve that connects the water supply to your sprinkler system all over your lawn. Foam insulation and a trash bag work great here, or you can purchase more high-end insulated backflow bags for certain areas of the system. Don’t forget to insulate piping that’s located above-ground; insulation tubes are best for this.
3. Turn Off Automated Timers
Now that everything is insulated, it’s time to turn off automated timers (if you have them). Chances are that if your system is newer, it has special cold weather or winter modes. If it does, set it to that before winter sets in. Either way, shutting down your irrigation system is crucial in preparing your lawn for cold weather. If you don’t have a special winter mode you can put it in, simply shut off the timers. When you go to activate it in the spring, you’ll have to reset that timers and data again, but it’s better than leaving it on all winter.
4. Drain the Pipes
If you don’t drain your pipes in the winter you risk letting water freeze inside of them, expand, and eventually burst. This is a huge no-no in terms of winter landscaping. Make sure you drain your pipes adequately before freezing weather hits. If your sprinkler system has a manual drain valve or automatic drain valve, you can use that; if it doesn’t, you might need to blow out your pipes. If that’s the case, we suggest calling in an expert.
5. Keep Your Lawn Clean
And, last but not least, in order to winterize your sprinkler system in preparation for cold weather, you’ll need to ensure you’re keeping your lawn clean. Stock up on gloves, trash bags, and rakes so that you’ll be able to keep your lawn clear of debris and leaves. This is crucial in ensuring that you don’t compromise the quality of your above-ground sprinkler system features. And it’s simply better for the health of your grass, plants, and trees.
Not sure how to properly carry out any one of the tasks above or have questions on a specific tool or feature of your sprinkler system? Find a certified irrigation professional near you to help you with your project!