If you’re a homeowner like me, you’ve probably heard that your irrigation system, including your backflow device, is a good idea to winter up. But what does that mean exactly? And how much is it necessary?  I always weigh the needed aspect as someone that likes to do it themselves on a tight budget. The answer depends, of course, on who you ask, and more importantly, where you live.

When you live in an environment where temperatures regularly fall below freezing during the winter months, taking steps to winter your irrigation system can help prevent pollution of your water supply and avoid expensive bills of repair from a burst pipe.

Winterize Sprinkler System-what is it?

Winterization can mean many things when it comes to your irrigation system:

  •  Turning off your automatic sprinklers
  •  Turning off your internal water supply 
  • Insulating your backflow prevention
  •  Blowing out your irrigation system 

Here in Texas, we generally only have to think about the first two items. But if you live in the Northeast, all four topics will be discussed.

What’s a blow-out?

The blow-out method uses an air compressor in your irrigation system to simply “blow out” any residual water. Failure to do so could freeze any remaining water in your system and cause burst pipes. Even if you can ruin your own irrigation system, I wouldn’t suggest it. If your compressor does not blast all the water out, and if you use too much or too little energy, you are at risk of damaging your system. Contact Conroe Sprinkler or your company to do a backflow check. Then see what they are suggesting you to do to Winterize Sprinkler System. Most sell a winterization package that includes a blow-out that is much cheaper than costly repairs in the end.

How do you do it yourself?

If you don’t have to blow your system, you’re likely to be able to do everything else on your own. Many automatic sprinkler systems have a switch that can be turned off easily. You should have access to your existing water supply, irrespective of whether it is above or below ground. It is a few feet below ground and is a little difficult to reach, so I’m using a lever to help turn the main valve off.

If your system is above ground to prevent backflow, it is probably a good idea to isolate it. At home improvement stores or online, there are many options available. Most of them look like isolated pillows or sleeves you can just slide across the unit.

If unsure when to winterize, inquire around. I asked my neighbors during my first year as a homeowner. All of them seemed to do it around the same time, so I kept using it as a thumb rule. When your winter cycle is shut down, you can comfortably relax and you won’t have to think about your sprinkler system until the fall. It gives you the opportunity to work inside the house on projects, which is a completely different kind of fun!