Irrigation Winterization in Portland, OR
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Frequently Asked Questions
The winter months are approaching, which means it’s time to shut down your irrigation system for the season. Winterization is a crucial part of irrigation maintenance. If neglected, it can lead to serious damage, including broken pipes and cracked valves. Freezing temperatures can cause substantial deterioration, wreaking havoc on your landscape and wallet.
Irrigation winterization is necessary to keep your equipment running at peak performance and prevent costly repairs. This maintenance task should be performed by a qualified professional at least once per year. We take great pride in the quality of our work and can ensure that your system lasts for years to come.
All of our technicians are prepared to provide the best winterization service. It usually takes them about an hour to perform a sprinkler blowout, depending on the accessibility of the system and the number of irrigation zones. However, we recommend scheduling this service before the onset of cold weather.
Knowing when to winterize a sprinkler system may not be as simple as checking the calendar. Individuals in warmer climates may decide not to winterize their watering equipment. If you’re new to the area or have recently installed a system, consult with locals about when freezing temperatures typically occur.
Usually, fall is the optimal time to winterize your irrigation system. The ground is generally warm enough for water to drain from the pipes, but it’s also approaching the onset of freezing temperatures. Once the weather begins to cool, there are several steps you need to take to protect your irrigation system.
In Portland, it’s recommended to winterize lawn sprinklers by mid-October to prevent damage from cold snaps. In other areas, winters might be mild enough that homeowners do not need to shut down their irrigation system entirely. Instead of draining all the water from the pipes, they can simply turn off the system’s water supply until the next growing season.
Shut off the water supply – The first thing you need to do is turn off the main water supply feeding the irrigation system. Usually, a valve located on a pipe inside the basement controls this. This valve might also control the water flow to your entire home, so ensure no one needs to use water while you’re working.
Drain the pipes – The best way to drain a sprinkler system is using compressed air. Be sure to use a regulator on the compressor to protect your valves from damage. You will also need an adapter to connect the air hose to the piping. Connect the air compressor to the irrigation line and pressurize the water out of the equipment. This method guarantees all liquid is removed from the system.
Deactivate the controller – The controller, usually mounted on a wall in an accessible area of the home, monitors the duration and location of sprinkler activity. By pressing the “OFF” button, you will prevent all zones from activating, even if programmed otherwise accidentally. You can reactivate the sprinkler system once spring arrives.
If you leave an irrigation unit activated during the winter, remaining water inside the system could cause lines to burst when temperatures dip below freezing levels. This is especially true for sprinkler devices that use PVC pipe, not designed to withstand freezing temperatures. The broken lines will drain all residual water from the irrigation system, potentially flooding your yard once temperatures start to rise.
The backflow preventer can also suffer damage if water is left inside the system during winter. Protecting the backflow device is crucial as it prevents the cross-connection of the clean water line with dirty water used for lawn irrigation, which may contain harmful bacteria causing health issues.
Finally, you will likely need a sprinkler system repair in the spring if your irrigation equipment has suffered winter damage. While this may not be a priority for most, it can affect the efficiency of your sprinklers. An inspection is always recommended for any irrigation system after the cold season. This includes both residential and commercial lawn watering units.