With winter coming, the time has arrived to get your lawn sprinkler system ready for a season of rest. The following are the five basic steps that need to be followed.
1. Turn Off Your Timers
Most people put their sprinkler systems on a timer or schedule, which ensures that they run consistently throughout the growing season. Before shutting down the system for the season, turn off the timers at the control box. How this is done varies depending on the make and model of your control box. Some systems have a built-in winter standby option that you can set, which means that all of your settings will be saved for next year. Others may require that you turn off the control box completely.
2. Shut Off the Water
The main risk to your irrigation system is frozen water. Water expands as it freezes, which can lead to burst supply lines and a major water leak. Water to the outdoor irrigation system needs to be turned off completely. The shutoff valve is typically located in a ground-based utility box, often near the house or a garage.
3. Blow Out Any Moisture
Shutting down the outdoor main isn't enough, since some water will remain in the lines. Although water in sprinkler lines won't lead to a major leak and waste of water, it can burst the sprinkler lines so that they will need to be replaced in the spring. Most sprinkler systems come with a blow out valve. An air compressor is hooked up to one end of the blow out valve, then the backflow valve is opened. The air compressor then blow any excess water out of the lines until they are dry. Depending on your system, this may need to be completed in sections to ensure the lines are completely dried out.
4. Stow Away Accessories
Certain accessories shouldn't be left outside where they are exposed to freezing temperatures. For example, many people use soil moisture meters with their automatic system to help control the watering schedule. Remove these in the fall and store them indoors until spring. Another item to store indoors are detachable high rise sprinkler arms, as well as any above ground drip irrigation lines.
5. Mark Boundary Emitters
If your area is know for snowfall, use snow poles or reflector spikes to mark the location of any sprinkler heads located right next to the sidewalk or driveway. This way you can be careful not to hit and damage them with a snowblower when you are clearing the pavement this winter.
Contact a lawn sprinkler system service if you need more help with the winter care of your irrigation system.