Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spotlight on Sprinkler Winterization

With the fall season fast approaching, it seems like a great time to revisit the sprinkler winterization process. Click the following link to view a diagram of a typical PVB setup. If you are comfortable with the setup, you can prepare your system for the winterization process prior to CM’s coming to your property. This is a time-saver for you and CM’s. By draining the interior, you no longer have to be home when we show up! Feel free to go shopping, go to a soccer game, or stay at work if you must. When you return home, you will have a notice in the door that we have been out to winterize your system. That is when you will complete steps 5 and 6. With that, your system is officially hibernating, something that many of us wish we could during the long Nebraska winter!

Listed below are a few helpful Q&A’s regarding sprinkler systems in general.

Enjoy the fall!


Q. What is a check valve?
A. A check valve is a device that is installed in a sprinkler head that keeps the water from exiting the head when the zone is not running. Heads with check valves prevent the water from draining out of the sprinkler heads when the system is not in use therefore conserving water and preventing low head drainage or puddles.

Q. What is the copper tubing extending from the house to the ground?
A. This is the copper that leads from your valves to your pressure vacuum breaker (PVB.) The PVB prevents water from flowing back into your potable water supply once it has passed by the device. Some systems may be installed with a reduced pressure assembly (RP.) The RP serves the same purpose as the PVB but is used in situations where a PVB will not adequately protect the potable water supply.

Q. Is my system a self-draining system?
A. If you do not have sprinkler heads with check valves installed, the system is self-draining to the extent water will naturally flow out of the heads due to the slope of the terrain. The valves are self-draining as they have a reverse pressure drain in the valve box. The drain opens up when the water is shut off. If you do have heads with check valves installed, the system is not self draining. Either way, we strongly recommend having the system completely winterized and evaluated each year.

Q. Should I drain and blow out the system?
A. Yes! It is good idea to have CM’s drain and blow out your system at the end of every watering season. Please call our office at 738-1718 to schedule this service. Our systems include drains, but blowing out your system insures there is no water left in the system and that all your lines, valves, and PVB will be ready for spring. If you do have heads with check valves installed, the system is not self draining.

Q. Will the pipes crack or freeze?
A. Poly pipe expands significantly, so small amounts of water can be tolerated and most lines drain to the lowest head on the zone. However, the vacuum breaker or backflow preventer, copper pipe, or PVC pipe around the valve box may crack if they are not winterized. That being said, any system where the heads are installed with check valves will crack and freeze if not winterized as check valves will cause the poly lines to retain water.