Irrigation System Winterization

The laws of physics are fickle when it comes to the inherent properties of water. As the temperature starts to drop and water freezes, it is actually one of the few compounds that expands in its solid form. Excess water that is trapped in your irrigation system has the potential to wreak havoc. In some cases, you might not even notice the damage to your system components until the spring thaw.

Fortunately, CM’s offers sprinkler winterization as part of our fall menu of maintenance services.

We can either take care of the entire winterization process for you or provide you with instructions on how to handle the interior portion of the sprinkler system.  By doing this, you can go about your day without having to wait for a set appointment time! See below for helpful video and diagrams.

If you have any questions or concerns related to spring activation or winterization of your lawn’s irrigation system, you shouldn’t leave it to chance. You can always turn to the helpful professionals at CM’s to make sure it’s done right and everything is ready for the rigors of the season ahead.

How to Drain your Sprinkler System

Sprinkler Step by Step Drain Instructions

Click to Enlarge

  • Close drain shutt off valve (A)

  • Place Bucket under drain valve(B) and open drain valve(B)

  • VERY IMPORTANT! Once water is finished draining, close drain valve(B)

  • Wait for CM’s to winterize system.

  • VERY IMPORTANT! After CM’s winterizes your system, place bucket under drain valve (B) and open the drain valve.  Do not forget this step. You might be surprised at the amount of water that drains from the system.

  • Close drain valve (B)

  • Great Job!  We will see you in the spring!

Special Note: In some cases, systems only have  a main shut-off valve (A) inside the house. In this situation, the only thing you need to do before CM’s comes to winterize your system is close the main shut-off valve (A).

Quick Irrigation Tips

  • If you see water  consistently dripping from your drain valve (B) in the diagram above, it can be a sign of a failing shut-off valve. Contact a plumber or a CM’s technician for a diagnosis.  Failure to fix this issue can lead to damage to the exterior of the system.
  • Sometimes, we ask you to shut the system off at the backflow.  Enough with the technical jargon!  See the images to the left for sample backflow devices.  To shut the backflow off, turn the ball valves (handles) to be perpendicular to the pipe.  In these images, the ball valves are open.
  • Test ports are recognized by the screws that open and close them.  Similar to the ball valves, if the screw is inline with the pipe the test port is open.  If it is perpendicular it is closed.
  • If you turn the water on yourself in the spring, make sure to close those test ports and open the ball valves.  If the test ports are not closed, water will shoot out of your backflow device.  Don’t worry, it is a common item to forget.

Irrigation Spring Start Up

Spring is often a time of frenetic energy with a long list of things that need to be done to get your life as well as your yard, ready for summer. Making sure that your lawn’s irrigation system is up and ready before the potential dry time of summer is of critical importance.

While it might seem as simple as turning a few valves and maybe resetting the timer schedule, there is actually a lot that goes into testing, maintaining, and preparing a quality lawn irrigation system. Here at CM’s, we offer spring activation as part of our spring maintenance services as well as a standalone service.

This includes things like monitoring the valves and heads. If some part of your irrigation system has been compromised by something like a winter frost heave or the presence of a burrowing rodent, our specialists can affect a repair before your system suffers more significant damage.

During the spring activation process, we will also take a closer look at other critical aspects of how your irrigation system is functioning. This includes things like:

  • Checking the coverage area
  • Performance testing each sprinkler head
  • Removing any organic debris from sprinkler heads and other system components
  • Checking the main system controls
  • Programming your system for optimum performance or providing you with recommendations

If the soil under your turf has a high clay content it might be better to dial back your watering schedule during wet times of the year. Clay tends to trap excess moisture and hold it for a long time, which could potentially lead to problems with overwatering.

On the other end of the spectrum, sandy subsoil allows water to drain through very quickly. In hot and dry times of the year, you may need to increase the amount of water your lawn receives or the times when it is watered.

Ideally, you want to set up your irrigation system to water your lawn between 4 am and 9 am. This will ensure that grass and other softscape features have received sufficient moisture before the full heat of the summer day sets in. If at all possible, you should avoid watering at night, as wet grass and foliage can be increasingly susceptible to diseases and the incubation of fungal spores.