Recently we received an inquiry asking if it really is necessary to winterize sprinklers, or as the question was worded, “Do I need to worry about winterizing my sprinkler system?” Great question.
The short answer
Most people want to protect their sprinkler system. They know there is a significant investment and they want to protect it. By blowing out the sprinkler system with compressed air, they gain a sense of confidence that they have protected the investment. They want to ensure that the sprinklers will work properly for years to come.
The full answer
The main thought here seems to be—if it’s underground how can it freeze? The simple answer goes something like this. During periods of freezing weather, the frost level sinks deeper and deeper into the soil. How deep the frost goes depends on how cold it is and for how long. After temperatures rise above freezing, the soil gradually thaws out.
Now let’s look at the variables
- You really don’t know what’s under the ground and you don’t know how deep it is!
- Sometimes it gets really cold and it lasts a long time. When this happens the frost line goes deeper.
- Micro climates matter.
- If there is a very windy spot the cold goes deeper in that area.
- Maybe there is a concrete retaining wall with sprinkler pipes just on the other side. The cold comes from the top and from the side, so it penetrates a lot more.
- Even soil conditions, mulch or the lack thereof, vegetation, and other things influence how deep the frost penetrates.
What may break in a freeze and what happens then?
- Pipes can crack if they freeze when filled with water.
- Similarly the pipe fittings can crack.
- Valves and anti-siphon devices can also be affected. These are the most expensive parts.
For some parts, especially those made of metal, the affects of alternately freezing and thawing are cumulative. You may get by for years and then something breaks. I’ve seen this particularly with galvanized pipe. It seems to hold strong for years—and then it splits.
Many people choose to do this project on their own, but if you do not have a great degree of slope to your land you will need to buy or rent an air compressor to blow out all the water. In the long run you’ll get your money’s worth, though it may be easier to schedule a pro to get this job done right.
Contact us today