Preparing for the company’s holiday activities is one of the many autumn routines people look forward to. But one important thing that often gets overlooked or pushed to the bottom of the list is the proper winterizing of irrigation systems.
Setting up irrigation components for the cold months is critical to the well-being of the entire system. Not properly closing down on this task could also be risky for any commercial property. With winter just around the corner, the time to act is now.
What Is Winterization?
The winterization process for any watering system involves removing all the water from pipes, valves and sprinkler heads. This process prepares the irrigation system and components for the first freeze of the season.
Importance of Proper Irrigation Winterization
As many might remember from their middle school science class, any water under freezing temperatures will expand it turns to ice. Even a little bit of water left in the pipes, valves, nozzles, fittings and other sprinkler system components is susceptible to freezing.
Not only will the frozen water lead to burst pipes, but it can also cause serious damage to the entire commercial structure.
Steps to Properly Winterize an Irrigation System
The main shut-off valve for the entire irrigation system should be protected from freezing. Additionally, any aboveground piping needs to be properly insulated using self-sticking foam tape or tubes.
It is important to go beyond just shutting the main water supply off. It is best practice to open the manual drain valves to allow any remaining water or buildup pressure to flow through the system after the water source is shut off.
It is important to run this method not only on the mainline but also on the remaining pipes, sprinklers, and backflow devices.
To ensure that no water remains in the piping network, this is followed up by a method called “Blow Out.” Professionals from commercial landscaping services in Hattiesburg use large, industrial-grade air compressors for this type of water removal.
While most consumer-grade air compressors can reach the required pounds per square inch (psi) to blow out an entire irrigation system, they do not produce the same volume of air in a given time. With high psi, low volume combination does not reliably remove all the water from the sprinkler lines.
Prior to opening the air valve on the compressors, an escape route for the water and air through an irrigation valve or a quick coupler on the mainline must be opened. Once the irrigation system is completely blown out, ensure to open and close the valves on the backflow preventers numerous times.
This allows for any trapped water remaining in the upper areas in the valves to drain out. It cannot be stressed enough that there should not be any water left on the system.
Water trapped inside a PVC pipe, manual ball valve, or a valve chamber tends to crack these components. In-ground irrigation systems should be done by early December, while aboveground systems must be done before early November.
Damage caused by water freezing is expensive to repair. However, with the right precautionary measures, commercial buildings can avoid costly damage from cracked or burst pipes, valves, and fittings.