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How to Winterize Your Irrigation System

If you have an underground irrigation system in Northern Virginia, an important and necessary step that you will need to follow is Winterization of your system.  Even if you have professional irrigation services, it is good to understand the Winterization process so you can realize the importance of this step.

Step 1 – Turn Off The Water

The first thing you will need to do to winterize your irrigation system is to turn off the water.  When your system was installed, there was a valve installed where your main water line feeds the irrigation system.  Generally, these are located in places where they are easily accessible.

Step 2 – Shut Down the Controller

The next step is to turn off your automatic controller.  Most new automatic controllers by manufacturers like Rain Bird, Toro and Hunter have a “rain mode”.  This mode essentially shuts off all of the valves, but keeps running.  The schedule that you worked hard to fine tune will be saved, saving you a lot of headache in the Spring.

Step 3 – Remove The Backflow Preventer

Water will collect in your backflow preventer, so it is important to drain it before the ground freezes.  You should remove the backflow preventer completely to drain it, and you can either store it someplace safe for the Winter or reinstall it.  It is a good idea to insulate your backflow if you have not done this already.  You can use insulation tape but be sure not to block the air vents and drain outlets on the backflow.

Step 4 – Remove Water From The Pipes

The most important step of the winterization process is removing the water from the pipes.  Even when your irrigation system is not running, there is water in the pipes that collects at low spots in your yard.  When the ground freezes, so will the water causing it to expand and the pipes to burst.  Properly winterizing your system generally costs about $100, whereas troubleshooting and repairing your system can run into the thousands!

There are 2 methods of removing water from the pipes, the first being the blow out method and the second being the drain valve method.  In most scenarios is Northern Virginia, the blow out method will be used.  This involves hooking up an air compressor to your system, and forcefully blowing all of the air in the pipes out.  It requires a very large air compressor, so it is a good idea to have a professional perform this kind of work for you to ensure it is done properly.

If you still have not winterized your irrigation system, please give us a call 703-609-1093, our irrigation services technicians are standing by!