Don't Forget to Winterize Your Irrigation System

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By the time fall foliage transitions into to leaf-covered lawns, your irrigation system is likely no longer on your radar. It's been turned off for weeks, and might only warrant a passing thought when you notice the lower cost of your water bill. But the money you save this winter could easily evaporate come spring if you don't take the next step, and winterize your irrigation system.

DIY or Dial a Professional?

In most regions, winterizing your irrigation system is simple project that can be accomplished in less than an hour with no special tools or know-how. This isn't the case in colder regions, however, where the frost depth is greater than 12 inches. Some systems in colder areas have drain valves built into each zone. If that's the case with your system, the steps for draining the zones will be described below. If not, it's a good idea in cold regions to hire an irrigation professional to blow out the system, a process best left to those with experience. This typically costs $50 to $100 - far less than the cost of replacing one or more zones, which is a distinct possibility for those with an air compressor and a little voice in their head wondering "how hard can it be"?

Protecting What's Precious

For the most part, your irrigation system is made up of relatively inexpensive plastic components. The exception is your backflow preventer or vacuum breaker valve. These are made of copper and usually installed above ground, where they are more vulnerable to cold temperatures. To prevent damage, they need to be drained.

Backflow preventers and vacuum breaker valves come in various shapes and sizes, but they all have shutoff valves at the intake and outlet ends, and nozzles in between that can be turned on and off with a flathead screwdriver. To drain them, close the intake valve. Next open the smaller nozzles. They are open when the slot of the screw head is aligned in the direction of the water flow. (If the nozzles spew instead of simply drain water, you closed the outlet, not intake, valve.)

If you're in a cold region and have a system that has drain valves, locate and open the drain valves before going on to the next step. They will be located in a small valve box at the low point in each zone.

Finally, turn the timer back on and run the system. The water is off, so nothing will happen, but the valve for each zone will open allowing the zones to depressurize or, in the case of systems with drain valves, to drain. Remember to turn the timer off, and you're done!

Need More Help? Get started by finding a Lawn & Garden Professional

If you need professional help with your irrigation system, LendingTree Home Pros can help.

The good news is that LendingTree Home Pros maintains a directory of home service professionals and can match you with a home pro in your area. All the home pros listed in the LendingTree Home Pros directory are properly licensed and insured and are backed by a $10,000 money-back guarantee!

Let LendingTree Home Pros help you find a Lawn & Garden Professional today.

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