For certain regions of the United States, winterizing the sprinkler system is a very important task. For climates that regularly drop below freezing, and experience seasonally frozen ground, emptying the entire irrigation system can help prevent burst or broken pipes. Porch pro, Sean Mullarkey from Tri State Water Works, says that finishing your outdoor watering season by flushing out all the water from the pipes, valves and backflow, is just part of the regular maintenance routine he performs for his clients.

What is a sprinkler winterization?

Mullarkey says the process is pretty straightforward however it’s not a recommended DIY project. Once the water is shut off, his company uses a low pressure air compression system (about 45-55 psi) to blow the water out of all the irrigation lines. He does this twice to ensure no water is left behind. Most residential sprinkler systems have about 5-10 zones and each zone may be done separately. Note: using compressed air can be dangerous. It is always recommended that this method of “blowing” out the water be done by a licensed professional. Another service that is often provided is emptying out the valves and backflow and moving it inside for the winter.

What happens if you don’t winterize your sprinklers?

If water is left in the pipes over the winter and freezes, there is a good chance that the ice will expand and break or crack the irrigation system. Once the water thaws those cracks can send water inside the home or underground, causing flooding or excess water to leak and pool. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to find that their lawn has become a swamp in the spring due to a burst pipe underground.  The backflow, located outside, should be removed and brought inside to prevent freezing. “A frozen backflow on a home can cost up to $350 to replace,” advises Mullarkey.

When to schedule your sprinkler winterization

“Homeowners need to be on our schedule by early October,” says Mullarkey. “In our climate we recommend that your sprinklers are winterized by Thanksgiving.” For some parts of the U.S. frost begins as early as October and by then, homeowners have generally stopped watering plants. At the end of your watering season, call and schedule a winterization package. Call early to ensure you get on the schedule when it’s convenient for you.

Other sprinkler services provided

Mullarkey and his crew generally inspect the sprinkler heads during the winterization process as well. “We check for leaks and if the homeowner doesn’t have time for replacement in the winter, we set up a schedule for the next spring to fix any issues.” Owning a sprinkler system requires an ongoing maintenance to ensure that your system isn’t using too much water (and costing you money) and that your plants are receiving the best care possible.

Need to find an irrigation specialist near you? Find one on Porch today!