What is a Sprinkler Blowout?
In many areas of the country, the first signs of frost bring about the change in season. This is usually the time when businesses and homeowners start with their sprinkler “blowout” or “winterizing irrigation systems”. This is a process that is essential in areas where the frost level extends below the depth of the installed piping. It is essential for winterizing to occur so that the irrigation systems are maintained and kept intact for the next summer. You don’t want to have a frozen sprinkler system when the temperatures start increasing again.
A blowout is when the leftover water in your sprinkler lines is blown out to prevent it from freezing during the winter. Even if you have drained all the water, there might still be traces of water leftover and when it freezes, it expands and can crack the PVC piping. This means that you will have to install a brand-new irrigation system. It is not necessarily a complicated process but if you don’t do it correctly, it can lead to damage. It is always better to have professionals come out and do the winterizing for you. If you are confident enough in doing it yourself, always make sure that you use the necessary safety equipment and that you are doing it correctly.
Is a sprinkler blowout really necessary?
If you live in areas where it gets very cold and where there is frost or snow expected, then yes, a sprinkler blowout is really necessary. As stated above, water freezes inside the pipes and it can cause damage. An added concern is that the pipes are underground, which means that the added pressure can cause it to burst. This can cost a lot of money to repair and it becomes an eyesore once it is damaged. Sprinkler blowouts are inexpensive compared to replacing your irrigation system which is why it is recommended.
How to complete a sprinkler blowout
A sprinkler blowout is a fairly simple process and even if you are not planning on doing it yourself, it is always useful to know how the professionals do it:
- Shut off the main water: The first thing you do is you shut off the water running to your sprinkler system. There is no need to shut off the water to your entire house. In your house, there will be a main shutoff and a second shutoff with an air compressor hookup attached to it.
- Attach the air compressor hose: Secondly, you attached the air compressor to the hookup situated beneath the sprinkler system water switch. Make sure that you have all the converter pieces you need to get the hookup linked to the compressor itself. Then you turn on the air.
- Set up the system’s running duration: Next you are going to set up the system so that it runs for 4-5 minutes in each zone. Every system is different so it is important to refer to your manual if you need any help.
- Once you have followed these steps, you will see the sprinkler system outside shoot out any remaining water in short bursts. Let this continue until you hear is air coming out of the sprinkler system. This is how you know that the water has been removed and the sprinkler system is ready for winter. You can then remove the air compressor and release any additional air pressure that may be present.
The do-nots of sprinkler blowouts
There are a few things that can go wrong during this process, even though it seems quite simple. It cannot be stressed enough that you wear eye protection. Unexpected debris might flow out of the sprinkler head and straight into your eyes. Here are a few things to avoid when you commence with your sprinkler blowout:
- Do not allow the air pressure to exceed the recommended PSI. The recommended PSI for PVC piping is 80 PSI and 50 PSI for polyethylene piping systems.
- Do not stand over parts while the system is pressurized with air. This can cause damage to the system and components.
- Do not leave the process to run independently. You need to be present at all times and it cannot be left unattended.
- Do not blow the system out through a backflow pump. You should first blow out the system and then drain the pump.
- Do not leave manual drain valves open after the blowout. Do a final check to make sure everything has been shut and closed.
Sprinkler blowouts is a vital part of winter preparation and it is very beneficial to the longevity of your irrigation system.
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