How to prevent a sprinkler system disaster this winter

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If you live in Canada or the northern United States, you’re probably hearing and seeing the word “winterization” frequently. It’s a major focus in print and broadcast advertising by local landscaping and irrigation system companies around this time of the year.

It’s a word you should know well if you have an underground sprinkler system (a.k.a. irrigation system or sprinkling system).

So, what exactly does winterization mean and is it really necessary?

In some regions, winterization may simply require a manual or automatic system drain of water in your sprinkler system. In colder regions, a complete system blowout using compressed air is a must.

With the changes in climate in recent years, there’s possibility of harsher winter conditions than in previous years.  Therefore, to be safe, we recommend a sprinkler system blowout to all those in regions in which temperatures could reach a freezing point.

Why? Even if you’ve drained your sprinkling system, some water may remain within the piping – and that is very dangerous. As temperatures drop, this water will freeze and expand as it turns to ice and crack the piping. PVC piping (rigid, white-colored piping) is most vulnerable to this. Polyethylene piping (black-colored), commonly used in northern sprinkling systems, is more flexible and may accommodate some expansion. However, the expansion can rupture the pipe walls. Freezing water in the assembly may also damage the internal components.

So, yes, winterizing your sprinkling system, is necessary and important.

Here’s how to winterize your underground sprinkling or irrigation system to prevent costly repairs:

Due to the dangerous nature of using powerful, compressed air, this is not a do-it-yourself job. Landscaping professionals or irrigation system specialists should be hired to efficiently and safely complete this task. Ask for referrals from friends and family about a reliable company they’ve worked with in the past. Or, consider contacting your local Better Business Bureau to find a service in your area with a stellar reputation. Pricing varies depending on your specific system.

Please note that residential air compressors available at home improvement centers are not sufficient for this work.

Have a great autumn.

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