Winterizing Irrigation Systems

Let’s do an experiment. Close your eyes and image this state of affairs:

It’s a sunny afternoon in January. The popular Frank Loesser tune swoons “Ah, but child it’s cooooold out of doors,” softly in the background as you hold your ft warm by using a roaring fireplace. Children are gambling in the snow, bundled up, making a giant snowman, and there is speak of hot chocolate. Irrigation Repair

It seems like a image-ideal wintry weather day, right?

Now photograph that identical scenario through the eyes of a panorama professional. There continues to be the equal traditional wintry weather music, the same hearth, and the same warm chocolate. But below the mounds of snow and snowmen is an irrigation system that has no longer been winterized!
As a contractor, you know the cold wintry weather temperatures, ice, and snow aren’t photo-perfect for an irrigation device. Ice can wreak havoc on sprinkler structures. Beneath the frozen floor, your purchaser’s sprinkler device is hibernating, trying desperately to live to tell the tale the iciness months unharmed.
Come springtime, a broken irrigation system can reason swampy areas, careworn landscapes, and the possibility of extraordinary odors from stagnant water. These are avoidable headaches you may save you.

Clients may additionally argue with you that they do not need a expert to winterize their sprinkler machine.
“Why spend the money on something I can simply do myself?” they may say. Or, “My machine is safe from freeze damages because it’s underground.”
If you had been paying attention throughout technological know-how magnificence as a kid, this is in which it will in the end are available in reachable. But for individuals who may additionally have forgotten a issue or , here is a brief chemistry lesson. When the temperature drops, the liquid form of H 2 O, water, will harden and freeze. When water freezes, it begins to extend. And expanding water may be very effective, even in small amounts.

Water trapped in constrained locations, together with pipes, sprinkler heads, backflow prevention gadgets, valve chambers, and maximum components of an irrigation device, can do serious harm in bloodless weather—it’s a scientific truth. If an irrigation gadget isn’t well tired, owners face the threat that leftover water can shatter pipes—specifically PVC pipes— although even the more flexible polyethylene material will rupture as properly.

Without a doubt, the exerted pressure of expanding ice will damage irrigation components. These damages may be both large and highly-priced. The restore price usually far outweighs the cost of a professional shut-down. It would make extra sense for a house owner to pay a modest sum to winterize, than to pay a big charge in restore fees.

This is why it’s an excellent idea to inspire your customers to be proactive. It is uncommon to find an unwinterized device in a chilly weather that survives unscathed via to spring. Many clients might imagine that most effective snow will damage their irrigation structures. They will wait till snow is forecasted to think about winterizing. But the water final in the device from the spring and summer time seasons is certainly the final killer. Clients don’t understand that winterizing irrigation equipment is a necessity in most components of the united states of america.

The significance of conversation
If you are a contractor in a cold weather nation, make certain your customers—reoccurring and new—are prepared for the winter season. As soon as frost is expected, start notifying customers to winterize, whether or now not they are on a agreement. Do not allow their image-ideal iciness day get overpowered by the complications they may face within the springtime.

“Ultimately, not winterizing may want to result in luxurious maintenance to the gadget, water-losing leaks, and damages to different close by assets,” stated Brent Barkley, product supervisor of rotors and rotary nozzles at Rain Bird Corporation. “It is even viable that a leak should result in a safety danger, if ice develops on nearby walkways.”

Many owners anticipate that they most effective need to disconnect the water supply and turn off the gadget controller to keep away from damages. They do now not always think about the variety of troubles a sprinkler gadget should broaden. It is essential which you, the professional contractor, train them.

“They need to depart it to the professionals, due to the fact although it’s not too tough to finish, it’s something that wishes to be carried out efficiently,” stated Michael Madewell, technical services supervisor at Hunter Industries. “Winterization must absolutely be left to the those who do it for a living.”

If a winterization is executed improperly, the chance of freeze damage greatly increases. When a client tries to save cash and makes use of a compressor from their storage, possibilities are, they’re not getting all the water out of the gadget. Communicate along with your clients approximately properly winterizing their irrigation device. They will thanks ultimately for searching out for them.

Stacy Derner, one of the owners of Aqua Pro Sprinklers in Watertown, Minnesota, isn’t any stranger to winterizing irrigation systems. For more than a decade, her organisation has provided this carrier. According to Derner, in Minnesota, a nation acknowledged for harsh winters, “in case you don’t winterize, it’ll freeze and damage.”

So how does she get customers to remember to winterize their sprinkler structures? She communicates.

“We send out an e mail and a mailing, giving them a proposed date of when we’d want to forestall by way of,” said Derner. “Nobody wants to be the primary though, specially if it’s been a dry fall.”

Typically, this system starts offevolved around the quit of September. They ship pre-present clients a provider date, which varies every yr. The dates variety from the give up of September to everywhere in October. This manner, clients do now not need to make a intellectual notice to schedule their carrier. Aqua Pro Sprinklers without a doubt takes away the hassle.

“It’s every other cause to knock on that purchaser’s door, stated Madewell. “Spring start-u.S.A.And winterizations provide a motive to interface with your audience”
Using direct marketing is an excellent manner to slim down your consumer base and keep away from wasting advertising greenbacks.

John Eggleston of Service First Irrigation in Lansing, Michigan, instructs the contractors he trains to notice throughout the yr wherein irrigation structures are placed. They then use this data to assist without delay target clients.

“You’ve were given to get in the front of those clients who’ve systems that need to be winterized,” said Eggleston. “There’s no other manner to do it.”

Become your patron base’s pass-to contractor by way of proactively suggesting beneficial services. Create preferred patron packages, together with seasonal, 12 months-spherical, or mid-season assessment services, that consist of periodic music-united statesand discounts on other services like controller reprogramming and maintenance.

When you stay in touch with your clients, it decreases the chances of them shopping round. Maintain near and private relationships to allow them to know you’re performing in their great interest. Do this, and they may experience like the opposition isn’t even well worth gaining knowledge of. It’s simply appropriate enterprise.

Winterizing steps
Go into every of your winterizations with a game plan. “Have a proactive method for that consumer; they’ll sense very sorted,” said Madewell.

Break the whole winterizing technique down into four main steps: Follow the Pre-test, Disconnect, Open, and Drain plan. This plan can be used on residential houses, as well as business sites, to prevent avoidable damages.

During this phase, take a look at the existing irrigation gadget for leaks, damages, and every other poorly functioning components, like skewed sprinkler heads.

Let your customer know the reputation in their device previous to the long winter months. Repair any damages and go back the machine to one hundred percent before continuing.

Next, take a look at the system’s controller. If a timed controller is left on my own, the everyday watering schedule will retain throughout the wintry weather. So it’s vital to consider to interchange the controller to the off role, and no longer just to “rain” mode.

During the spring flip-on, the controller may additionally want to be reprogrammed. Make a notice of the watering schedule in your purchaser’s file to keep away from any confusion come spring.

The final bullet point in the precheck segment is to insulate any aboveground pipes and backflow preventers, as an additional precaution. Use self-sticking foam-insulating tape or foam-insulating tubes.


Now, the maximum critical step in winterizing is to disconnect the water supply on the source and cap it. Winterizing cannot be executed if water continues to be able to waft thru the irrigation gadget.

Depending on if the belongings is residential or commercial, you can want to consult with facility personal to get the irrigation water became off. The water supply for residential properties will both come from a pump station or the metropolis. If the water source is a pump station, disconnect the manage panel. If it’s far from the town, absolutely cut off the source. It usually can be carried out manually, but every now and then websites have it installation so water can be turned off remotely. Again, be aware any unique instructions to speed the procedure alongside in the spring.

Forgetting to disconnect the water supply may be damaging. It can result in the loss of angry clients and capability criminal liabilities.


Step 3 is to open the machine valves. Once open, a few water might also drain out on its personal. You will still need to empty the entire system absolutely, to make certain no water stays.

Drain from the lowest point or points. Let gravity flow the water downhill. In this step, you do no longer want to fear approximately getting every ultimate drop of water, due to the fact there’s nevertheless a final step to comply with.

Water should be tired from the backflow device as well. Do now not use compressed air on this thing! If possible, put off the backflow preventers, shake the water out of them, and produce them inside to save you freezing.

The very last step is to completely drain the pipes. There are three extraordinary draining alternatives: manual draining, automatic draining, or compressed air “blow out.”

The manual drain approach may be used when valves are located in common points at the bottom regions on a property. The system without a doubt consists of shutting off the irrigation water deliver, commencing the guide drain valves, and looking forward to gravity to do its task. The foremost danger of this technique is that small wallet of water normally remain inside the strains.

Automatic draining is very just like guide draining. The valves also are placed at the bottom points, but will routinely open and drain water if the strain per rectangular inch (PSI) within the piping is less than ten.

Most automated systems use test valves to clean water. According to Madewell, whilst the road is below pressure, the take a look at valve closes for regular operation. When there’s no stress inside the line, the water drains out automatically thru the valve.

Manual and automatic strategies may go for contractors in warmer states that generally have milder winters and no tough freezes, but now not those who paintings inside the Snowbelt.

The satisfactory manner to ensure that all water has been removed from low vicinity pipes is to blow them out with compressed air.

“People will rely on check valves to a great diploma, but it’s form of a eating regimen version,” said Madewell. “Compressed air is the maximum green technique of winterizing, as it absolutely evacuates the whole lot— no questions asked.”

For blow outs of any fundamental line of inches or much less, use an air compressor with a cubic foot in line with minute (CFM) score of eighty to a hundred. Compressors huge sufficient to get the job finished may be rented at system condo yards. A small store compressor will now not have the proper amount of stress and extent to winterize the system. They can be capable of produce the precise quantity of psi, but simplest for a few moments.

“The quantity-one thing whilst managing winterization is the extent of air that the contractor wishes to be setting thru the piping to displace the water,” said Eggleston.

Calculate the exact quantity of air extent wanted before beginning. It will range based at the sort of device, the size of the primary line, and the number of sprinkler heads. Use between 40 to 80 psi of strain, relying at the system. The larger the gadget, the better the psi wide variety.

If you do not calculate the best quantity, air may in reality tour over the water, instead of forcing it out. Or, in cases where an excess amount of air is used, you threat blowing out sprinkler heads and damaging pipes, joints, valves and drip components. Remember, unexpectedly moving compressed air in a condensed area can cause friction. Stop the air flow immediately once the heads have stopped draining water.

As with all expert jobs, ensure you have got the proper safety equipment. Eye safety is crucial in this pressurized procedure. There is a excessive chance of significant eye injuries from flying particles. Do now not depart the air compressor unattended, or stand over device components even as the gadget is working.

Make sure all valves are open before beginning the blow out. On larger houses, such as a industrial site, there can be multiple zones. Never use a compressor on an irrigation device without as a minimum one open valve.

Insert the compressor’s air hose into the sprinkler’s blow-out valve and step by step introduce air into the gadget. Regulate the air glide until every region is dry. When only a nice mist or air begins to go out the sprinkler heads, turn off the compressor.

Each quarter must take about two mins to dry. Rather than the use of one lengthy cycle in line with zone, it is higher to apply some shorter cycles of compressed air.

At the end of the system, eliminate any destiny complications with the aid of labeling the date of the winterization with a tag.

The entire system is straightforward sufficient, however there are a few majors “don’ts” to keep away from. When blowing out a gadget with PVC piping, do no longer permit the air stress to exceed 80 psi. When running with structures which have polyethylene piping, do now not allow the pressure exceed 50 psi. Make certain you modify the blow out strain, and you’ll be a hit.

Pricing for winterization varies based on region, contractor and irrigation device.

Eric Zima with New England Irrigation reveals that the licensing legal guidelines in the Northeast impact winterization fees. He can see a big version in pricing among the states which have licensing laws in location and people that don’t.

“It’s all over the region,” he stated.

“I’ve seen it in which every now and then it’s relatively excessive and the guy is just making beer cash.”

Zima is a company believer that if contractors offer a superb service and take care of their customers, they ought to be capable of price a truthful fee with out proceedings.

A famous manner to decide a viable fee is to base the price at the range of zones.

Take the initiative. Let your customers realize the exact offerings you offer, and while. Explain to them the significance of taking precautions to save cash in the future.

Just like that, you may have stored the day. Your clients will be able to revel in their wintry weather curled up by using the fire. And you will know that you have provided a miles-wished provider.

Educating your purchaser base approximately the importance of nicely shutting down an irrigation gadget is a winwin-win state of affairs. If you promote proactive offerings, you, the consumer, and their irrigation machine win, and nobody receives neglected within the cold!

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