Winterizing Irrigation Systems

WHEN I LIVED IN upstate New York, I hated wintry weather and the whole lot that went in conjunction with it. Having to guard my body from the freezing cold with boots, gloves and heavy sweaters positioned a strain on my already tight price range. However, the only thing I in no way needed to worry approximately protecting become my sprinklers, due to the fact I changed into fortunate to have an awesome landscape contractor who could visit my home every yr and winterize my irrigation device.
 Irrigation Repair

Unlike a brand new pair of boots, purchasing this provider wasn’t a luxurious, it was a need. Water expands when it freezes, and if the irrigation device isn’t well tired, the expanding water will turn to ice and crack the PVC pipes. Even polyethylene, that is more flexible, will rupture under the strain exerted by way of the growth of frozen water. This is why, in sure components of the united states of america, contractors unload their garden mowers from their trucks and update them with air compressors as quickly as the weather turns cooler.

Like all areas of the united states of america where the frost stage extends underneath the depth of the irrigation piping, the ritual of irrigation winterization is a top precedence. “There are two primary techniques of water elimination,” says Troy Leezy, CID, CWCM-L, CLIA, and advertising manager for Hunter Industries, San Marcos, California. “Manually drain the device, or blow out the system the usage of an air compressor.”

Manual draining became very popular in the ‘70s, and is still in use nowadays in which irrigation traces had been graded to common points at the bottom regions at the belongings. “To drain those structures manually, you truly close off the irrigation water deliver and open all of the guide drain valves,” Leezy says.

“When all of the water has tired out, near all of the manual drain valves, and you’re achieved.”

To start the “blow out” system, shut off the irrigation water supply and, with the compressor valve inside the closed position, connect the air compressor hose to the right. Activate the station on the controller with the sector or sprinklers maximum in elevation and the furthest from the compressor. Close the backflow isolation valves. Then slowly open the valve on the compressor; this should step by step introduce air into the irrigation system. The blow-out stress ought to stay below the most operating pressure specification of the lowest pressure-rated issue on that sector.

“The big advantage in blowing out an irrigation machine is that it’s a faster and extra accurate technique to make sure that every pipe is absolutely clear. After you hook up the compressor and flip it on, you could visually watch the heads pop up on every sprinkler nozzle,” says John W. Reffel III, LEED AP, CLT, of JLS Landscape & Sprinkler, Sedalia, Colorado. “Once the discharge is going from water to air, you absolutely disconnect the compressor and move onto the subsequent job.”

For business structures with multiple zones, each region have to be activated until no water may be visible exiting the heads; this need to take approximately two minutes or greater consistent with area, says Leezy. “Once the region is dry, you need to not keep to blow air thru the pipe. Compressed air moving via dry pipes can cause friction, which will create heat, and the heat ought to reason damage,” he says.

Another caution whilst the use of an air compressor is to ensure that you’re no longer setting an excessive amount of pressure on the sprinkler heads. “Some compressors gets upwards of 250psi, and that can be an excessive amount of on some kinds of pipes or fittings; you’ll run the hazard of nozzles popping off like champagne corks,” says Reffel, “It’s continually an amazing concept to bring along a ladder, in case you have to retrieve the heads from the gutters of the house.”

…It’s hard to sell a winterization provider when Mother Nature comes to a decision to convey unseasonably warm climate…. If humans wait until the final minute to winterize, they run the danger of having some above-floor pipes freeze…
“The compressor length truely relies upon on the system size. Usually, larger is higher and faster. While a smaller compressor will paintings, it’d take longer to get the process carried out,” says Jeff Trost, president, Trost Irrigation Companies, situated in Orion, Michigan. “The average residential system should take about 30 to 45 minutes, but again, this all relies upon on the compressor length and the irrigation system size. We can do a proper residential winterization in underneath a half hour for a small residence. Unless there may be a problem, we can generally contend with about twenty clients a day.”

Trost says the largest trouble is that, even as people realize the freezing temperatures are on their manner, it’s tough to promote a winterization carrier whilst Mother Nature decides to carry unseasonably warm weather to areas of the usa which might be expecting frost. “If human beings wait until the closing minute to winterize, they run the chance of getting some above-ground pipes freeze, this means that we now need to thaw them before we are able to winterize the rest of the device. It’s no longer a large deal, however it’s far very time eating, due to the fact we have to use a handheld dryer or warmness blow gun earlier than we will hook up the compressor. So, we continually tell our clients, regardless of what the thermometer reads, it’s first-rate to begin early.”

No count number the scale of the irrigation machine, the one issue all of them have in not unusual is the backflow preventer. Irrigation pipes can really be a trouble to restore if they fracture. However, they’re underground and are particularly better protected from freezing than the components which can be above ground, specially those on a backflow prevention tool.

“We do winterization for larger structures in municipalities, however we additionally perform a little residential,” says Chris Willis of Colorado Total Maintenance, Denver, Colorado. “Out right here, every house has an above-ground backflow tool, so we make certain that the ones are drained first. Then we move again and start draining the principle line and blowing out the system.”

Paul Wait, product supervisor at Wilkins, a Zurn corporation in Erie, Pennsylvania, provides, “If there’s any water left inside the pipes, the amount is so small that it genuinely doesn’t pose any huge threat of harm to the pipes if it freezes. However, you furthermore mght want to ensure that a person doesn’t turn the main water valve again on by using mistake.”

The great manner to avoid that from happening, says Wait, is for the contractor to place some sort of label on that unique valve, caution humans no longer to turn the water on. “If a person need to accidently turn on the water and it freezes, the contractor goes to be libel for any broken additives inside the device, seeing that it is going to be very difficult to decide how that valve turned into grew to become lower back on. As an extra precaution, I recommend attaching a shiny purple or fluorescent yellow tag to the valve, caution humans to live away.”

Another manner to avoid possible mistakes and destiny legal responsibility is to have an fantastic customer support software in place. Trost gives his clients a “desired client plan,” a whole carrier settlement that includes spring flip-on, a mid-summer season take a look at and fall iciness ization.

As an incentive, he also offers discounted costs for other offerings for the duration of the yr to the ones clients who sign up for the program.

With winter and bloodless climate quite much a positive element, you will suppose that irrigation winterization offerings would be the only location contractors should assume for a regular revenue circulate, even in tough economic instances. Unfortunately, simply the opposite is real, as Scott Silverman, president, The Automatic Group in Hempstead, New York, explains.

“What we’re seeing with the modern-day monetary climate are the price wars. People who’ve been laid off suppose that each one they need to do is buy an air compressor and they could do winterizing at a reduction. They’ll do winterizations however they won’t assure the work, need to something destroy within the gadget.”

“The way we fight the discounters is that we guarantee everything—from the beginning of the winterization technique to while we open the machine within the spring. If there is any freeze damage, we’ll restoration it without cost, and for the reason that competition can’t provide that sort of assure, we’re able to hold our clients.”

Trost is of the same opinion. “With the dip within the economy, we’ve visible many humans who have lost their jobs finding out to enter this business. It has come to be very aggressive, however we can show our clients that we’ve been in business a long term. We point out that these guys who simply took this on won’t have as a good deal experience in winterizing and may be out of commercial enterprise come the spring. Then what’s the property proprietor going to do if something goes wrong?” Another ability opportunity for irrigation winterization is the houses which have been abandoned or have long past into foreclosures. “Our business has without a doubt extended, with the range of calls we’re getting from the town,” Trost said. “We’ve been known as out on some of homes wherein they didn’t winterize and the water just saved stoning up the aspect and freezing, developing an iceberg with continuing water drift.”

“Some humans in foreclosures have just walked out, leaving the residence empty. They don’t bother procuring any winterizing on their irrigation structures, so we’ll get a phone call from the city to come out and turn the water off. It’s a sad state of affairs, however the service has to be finished.”

Silverman adds, “We additionally have contracts with our ‘snow birds’—house owners who need to show off their irrigation structures earlier than they p.C. Up and head for Florida. They recognize that we’re on a ordinary agenda, and that the whole thing may be became on and running perfectly after they go back inside the spring.”

Unless they, like myself, decide that they’ve had enough of the bloodless and flow to sunny California, wherein the handiest safety wished is a superb sunscreen!

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