This past summer was one of our longest,
warmest and driest summers we have had in a while. But
summer is now over, our days are shorter, nights are longer,
and it is much cooler: fall is here! Plants are going into their dormant
stage which means they do not need any supplemental water.
For those of you who let your lawns go dormant during the
summer and did not water (thank you), you are seeing your
lawns beginning to turn green again.
If you haven’t already done so all of this means it is time to
turn off your outdoor irrigation systems and drain them for
the winter to prevent freezing.
Putting Your Irrigation System to Bed for the Winter
Water left in the pipes of your irrigation system can freeze
over winter, causing damage to the entire system. You
owe it to yourself to make an annual habit of winterizing
your irrigation system. That means removing the remaining
water from the pipes so there’s nothing to expand when
temperatures dip down below freezing.
There are three basic methods for draining water from your
irrigation system. Which method you should use will depend
on the type of irrigation system you have.
Manual Valve Systems
Some irrigation systems are equipped with manual drainage
that allows you to empty excess water from the system by
simply opening a valve. If you have such a system, shut off
the supply of water to the system, look for the manual valves
at the ends and low points of the piping. Open all of the
valves and drain the water from the system, including the
Automatic Valve Systems
Other irrigation systems are equipped with valves that will
automatically drain water out of the pipes if pressure falls
below a certain number of pounds per square inch (PSI).
These can be activated by turning off the water supply and
briefly running one of the sprinkler heads to relieve the water
pressure in the system. You may still need to drain the water
between the shut off valve and the backflow assembly. If the
sprinkler heads are equipped with check valves, you will need
to empty those separately.
Irrigation System Blow-Out
The final method of winterizing your irrigation system is to
force compressed air through the system to discharge excess
water through the sprinkler heads. This method is potentially
hazardous, both to the wrong types of irrigation systems
and to anyone who attempts to do this without taking the
proper safety precautions. If you’ve never worked with
compressed air or have blown out an irrigation system, we
highly recommend you hire a licensed landscape professional
Winterizing your irrigation system is a critical part of annual
irrigation system maintenance. It can save you from having
to pay for the repair of costly leaks and water line breaks in
the spring. Visit the Clackamas River Water Providers for more information about how to protect your home water systems from freezing and more outdoor water conservation tips.