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Winterizing Your Sprinkler System, when, why and how?

The warm, long days of summer are making the switch to cool, crisp days of fall. With the change in weather, you may be thinking about when is the best time to winterize the sprinkler system for your lawn.

The when is really important. Turning off the water to your lawn too early this fall means that your lawn could suffer through winter. Southern Idaho fall and winter months are unpredictable when it comes to how much moisture we receive in the form of rain and snow. Your lawn needs moisture to maintain the health of the lawn through the dormant months of winter. Among other preparations, we always recommend that clients continue to water as long as possible to establish good moisture and prepare the lawn for winter. Depending on the turf and the weather we typically have all systems shut down and winterized by the first week in November.

But, what if the temperature drops to freezing before the first week in November? Your sprinkler system is underground. Night time temperatures won’t cause the ground to freeze and cause damage to your pipes underground. When the day time temperatures begin to stay at or below freezing, the ground soil will freeze and typically stay frozen solid until early spring. This usually occurs in late November, December here in southern Idaho. Continuous, cold, freezing, winter days are what can cause damage to the sprinkler system. So don’t fret if you’ve waited to have your system blown out and winterized. You still have time.

Now that we’ve established when the system needs winterized, let’s address the why. Sprinkler system parts and components are expensive to repair. Backflow preventers, valves, and underground pipes all hold water after the water to the system has been shut off. If the water is not blown out of the system completely and allowed to freeze this winter, the frozen water will expand and cause valves and pipes and backflow preventers to crack and break. You will find when you go to turn on the system in the spring that it is not operating correctly and you will have to spend a lot of time and money to find the damage that’s underground and causing the system to fail. So, save yourself the pain and expense of spring repairs and have your sprinkler system winterized this fall.

How to have your system winterized. Call a professional. Most residential lawns containing less than 6 zones cost $35 for winterizing and peace of mind. It is important to use the right pressure and volume when blowing out the system. Too much pressure can cause damage to the valves or piping and using a small shop compressor will result in it not having enough “free” air to properly winterize the system. The compressors we use at One Call Property Solutions do not use a ton of pressure (think 55-65 psi to blow out a sprinkler), but they DO have a rating of 185 CFM which mimics water; after all, it’s not the pressure that’s the issue, it’s the volume. Often, your DIY projects result in using TOO much pressure and not enough CFM – and while your system may take it, over time the heads will simply fall apart.

Long story short, if you use the compressor you picked up at the local hardware store, you may have a ton of pressure, but it also leads to a lot of wear and tear on your system! Call a professional that is experienced in sprinkler system blow outs and keep your system damage-free this winter. We are scheduling now for sprinkler system blow outs this fall. Check out our website and click the request work button to get scheduled. It’s easy and convenient to get on the schedule. (208) 490-6713

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