Fall is approaching quickly, and Colorado weather is unpredictable at best this time of year.
The question most homeowners ask, is “when should I winterize my sprinkler system?” We recommend that this is done sometime between September 15 and October 20. That being said, the first freeze, on average, generally happens in Boulder County, sometime around October 5! No one wants freeze damage or the repairs that come with it, and everyone wants to keep their grass green and flowers blooming for as long as possible. What to do? While we, as lawn care professionals, cannot make any guarantees, we can give you some suggestions to protect your system if you would like to keep it up and running through possible freezes. If a freeze is predicted, and your sprinkler system is still on, take the following precautionary steps:
1. Turn off the shut-off valve. On most residential backflow devices, there are 2 shutoff valves. They are typically covered in blue rubber and are located before and after the actual backflow device. You need to shut off the one before the device to keep more water from entering it. This is the lower of the two valves. Turn it a half-turn.
2. Release the water pressure. You must now release the water in the backflow device so that it doesn’t expand when if freezes and crack the pipe. Using a flathead screwdriver, loosen the 2 bleeder valve that are generally located just under the plastic top of the backflow. Note: they may have rubber inserts that you will need to remove before you can see the screw. Note: water will spew out for a few seconds. If the water doesn’t stop after a few moments, you haven’t turned it off completely in step 1. Leave these valves open.
3. Insulate your backflow. You can wrap the pipe with pipe insulation (available at any hardware store) – attach with duct tape. A more rudimentary method (or if you are short of time!) is to wrap the pipes in towels or blankets and cover with a heavy plastic trash bag to keep it dry. Again, duct tape is the best way to hold this in place.
4. Call Panorama at 303 774 9449 and make an appointment to have us winterize your system!
NOTE: this is designed to be a temporary “fix” for times when the weather surprises us or if you’ve forgotten to schedule this and need to buy yourself some time. It is not the end of the process. Generally speaking, the first freezes are not “hard” freezes, and this is an effective method to protect exposed pipes. The ground is still warm enough that the underground piping will not yet freeze. Before it gets consistently cold, you still need to have the water in the lines drained and blown out professionally with a large compressor.