Getting Irrigation Systems Ready for Winter

At the quit of the “Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp” episode of The Simpsons, The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards explains why he needs to get lower back home to England: “I’ve were given to place the hurricane windows up,” he says. “Winter’s coming!” Sprinkler Repair

The funny story’s humorous because you may’t picture the Stones’ lead guitarist doing anything extra to put together for winter than maybe, including extra scarves. Non-rock stars, but, who live in which wintry weather starts with a capital “W,” do have lists of wintry weather chores: purchase snow tires, get flu shots, look at mittens for holes, and sure, placed up storm windows.

Irrigation contractors have wintry weather checklists, too; they’re known as “winter shutdowns.” This procedure, whilst executed nicely and early enough, protects their clients’ irrigation structures from seasonal damage. It’s sort of like giving them flu photographs, increasing their immunity to freezing situations.

The item-via-object shutdown list varies a piece from contractor to contractor, with a few preferred similarities.

“The first aspect I do is turn off the water mains to the house or constructing,” stated Matthew Wendell, proprietor of The Sprinkler Guy, Anchorage, Alaska. “Then, I open the take a look at cocks at the backflow preventers.”

Next, he unearths the drain valve. “A common house right here has one in the crawlspace or basement. I open that up, and returned-drain the water among the inside and outside of the residence, in order that there’s nothing left among the partitions.”

Once Wendell has accomplished that, he hooks his air hose to the port on his compressor. “Then, I stroll around the yard. I use the controller to start the sequence, and activate each area for about a minute. On huge structures, to hurry up the method, I’ll open up more than one zones, so I can blow out three at a time.”

At the give up, to suggest that he’s all carried out, he units the take a look at cocks at the backflow preventer to the 1/2 open/1/2 closed role (forty five tiers), and turns off the controller. “For a house, the complete method commonly takes me everywhere from ten minutes to an hour, relying on the size of the gadget.”

“Every domestic is distinctive,” stated Brett McClellan, owner of Bozeman, Montana-based totally Gallatin Green Sprinklers, LLC. “It will be hooked up to a properly, or a water line. Most homes here have the water important hooked proper to a stress vacuum breaker backflow (PVB) meeting, mounted about a foot above the ground.”

After he finds the hookup for the water important, generally inside the crawlspace, he shuts it off. Then, he looks for the drain valve in between the primary line and the PVB, opens it, and expels the water from the device. “That way, I recognize there’s no water strain on the exterior of that PVB, going via the wall, because that may freeze as nicely,” stated McClellan.

He then connects his compressor. “The hookups will range depending on the house, but typically, the down pipes could have a 3-quarter-inch plug, or a 3RC.” Or, none at all.

“Typically, there’ll be a blowout point proper out of doors the house, so we don’t have to tug hoses indoors,” stated Don Dahlk, coowner and operator of Capitol Lawn Sprinkler, Inc., Verona, Wisconsin. “If now not, we’ll ought to tap into the gadget, and set up a blowout tee.”

“The other no longer-sogreat state of affairs is when we must move in thru the basement, hook a bunch of hoses collectively, and blow it out from there.

We’d as an alternative contend with business outside, so we’re now not messing up the client’s house, stepping into and out with wet footwear and monitoring grass clippings.”

After turning on all of the zones, both manually or with the aid of using the controller, McClellan turns the compressor on and runs it for approximately 15 to twenty minutes. Working one region at a time, he’ll blow every one of them out personally for about ten greater minutes, till he is aware of for positive that each one the water has been expelled. Then, he too units the test cocks on the PVB to a forty five-degree perspective, and turns off the controller.

Bob Kerns is owner and president of Custom Turf, Inc., a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania organisation that does irrigation, panorama lighting and lawn remedy. His business enterprise’s blowout routine is barely distinct.

“First, we’re going to take away the backflow tool, so that we don’t push any air via it,” he says. “Because of our hilly terrain, we use a whole lot of RPZ (reduced stress quarter) backflows, and they have all forms of rubber seals and plungers. Pushing air of any pace via those gadgets has a bent to dislodge or tear the ones rubber portions.”

Kerns’ blowouts are complex through ‘deduct’ meters, not unusual inside the Pittsburgh area, that measure just how a whole lot water is expended for irrigation, so it’s no longer charged at the sewer bill. These meters must be A compressor is hooked irrigation device to disconnected before blowouts, as pressurized air might harm them.

Before he begins the compressor, he activates the primary sector, so air stress doesn’t lower back up in opposition to a closed machine. “If the gadget’s no longer open, the pressurized air can harm the fittings or pipes.” He units the compressor somewhere between 55 and 75 psi (kilos in keeping with square inch), relying on the scale of the device. “Any extra pressure than that reasons friction that might damage fittings, heads or valves,” says Kerns. Next, he runs through each region of the machine from the controller, till every quarter is flushed.

Air force

Some homeowners, in an try to keep cash, will attempt to blow out their own structures. These screw-itup-yourselfers regularly turn out to be spending three or 4 instances what they might have paid a expert to do properly inside the first region, solving what ultimately froze.
“Most house owners don’t own huge sufficient compressors,” said McClellan. “You need a excessive quantity of air to blow systems out nicely. Those domestic-store devices, with the two little tanks, can’t pressurize the traces absolutely to evacuate all of the water.”

Wendell has seen this happen frequently. “They’ll attempt to use the standard air compressor which you buy for strength tools,” said Wendell. “Then they’ll be calling you subsequent spring, to come back restore the $350 PVB they broke. But they frequently don’t make don’t have repair parts, so that you simply have to replace the whole thing.

It’s an expensive restore.” If you’re going to do blowouts, you need some thing that honestly blows. It’s now not the psi, or pounds according to square inch, that’s so crucial; as an alternative, it’s the full volume of air, the cubic toes according to minute (CFM), that a compressor puts out Be prepared for when that makes the distinction. Without enough volume, air will blow proper over the water inside the pipes with out pushing it out.

“It takes place every year, with out fail,” says Kerns, wearily. “I’ll have one or extra customers telling me that he owns a compressor, and he can get that component as much as one hundred twenty five psi. That’s high-quality, but there’s no quantity; it’s likely putting out five CFM, which just isn’t going to cut it.”

Then what does he find come spring? “Damaged heads, mainlines, laterals and valves. Those upkeep can effortlessly be a couple of thousand dollars.” Not virtually worth it, simply to shop $75 to $a hundred!

What’s needed is the type of tow-behind, commercial-grade compressor which can displace the excessive quantity needed, up to 185 CFM. McClellan has one (as do many different contractors), it became steeply-priced, costing him $20,000. You might be able to discover a used one for an awful lot less, or you could lease one.

It is possible although, to have an excessive amount of of a great issue. Once a region is dry, you should flip the compressor off. Why? Basic physics. Compressed air blowing thru dry pipes creates friction, friction creates heat, and warmth reasons damage.

And it’s no longer just pipes that may be impacted. “As a producer, our largest problem is just too excessive a strain, for too lengthy; that may cause inner harm to sprinkler heads,” said Troy Leezy, advertising and marketing manager at Hunter Industries, San Marcos, California.

“A expert contractor that’s experienced in winterization knows exactly whilst to prevent. However, we’ve visible examples in which humans have run compressors till they’ve melted the plastic internals inside the sprinklers’ gearboxes, fused them collectively.”

Leezy defined that the gearbox, inside the lower a part of the sprinkler itself, has a little turbine in it. As water flows thru the sprinkler, it spins a bit shaft inside the reduction gearbox; that offers the turbine its torque.

The water also lubricates the sprinkler head. Under too high a extent of air, the turbine will spin a whole lot faster than it typically would, causing friction buildup and a capacity meltdown. It’s more of an issue for classic rotor sprinklers and rotator heads than sprays.

A massive blowout
McClellan says the iciness shutdown process for a massive commercial site isn’t that different from that of a house.

“Some of my big actual estate developments have anywhere among 20 to 50 valves. When there are that many, I’ll turn on the controller, and run thru all of the zones electronically. Otherwise, I’d be walking round a big, five- or ten-mile complicated, manually turning on all those valves.”

“Usually, these are on top notch-deep wells,” says McClellan. “There gained’t be a PVB, however there might be a dualcheck backflow device. There’ll be an on-and-off transfer, a ball valve, that’s usually down at the base of the well. Sometimes there’s a valve container, too.”

“But it’s the same concept. I shut off the primary water supply, hook up my compressor to the 3RC, and blow out all of the zones.”

Again, we need to strain having enough air extent. It’s even greater critical with large web sites. “We own a smaller eighty five-CFM compressor,” said Dahlk. “But then we’ll rent several 185s in order that we are able to do both our residential and our large industrial sites.” Dahlk’s enterprise offerings round 2,500 industrial debts.

“Some of the larger industrial websites have a 1/2 or 3-quarters of a mile of -inch-wide mainlines running via them. You need something that’s got enough push at the back of it. Sometimes we’ll even use two 185s on those.”

Kerns says that a few industrial structures have remotes that allow a technician to “see” every man or woman quarter. This saves him from having to stroll again to the controller on every occasion he runs a zone.