Sprinkler and irrigation systems are a worthwhile investment for many property owners. They keep a lawn and landscape items healthy and watered throughout the year, especially during the hot season when rain doesn’t fall. []
This asset requires adequate care and maintenance to keep providing this helpful resource each year.
When freezing temperatures approach, it is crucial to put the irrigation system to bed for the winter. Taking this step ensures that water cannot freeze inside the pipes and system components, which could cause cracks or other damage issues. []
The easiest way to prepare sprinkler and irrigation systems for the winter is to blow out the pipes. When the job is done correctly, the entire setup will be dry.
Steps to Follow When Blowing Out an Irrigation System
Blowing out an irrigation system is the safest way to approach your winterization chores. It uses high-pressure air to force all the water out of the pipes.
The water discharges through the sprinkler heads, ensuring that there is no liquid left in the system that could freeze and cause damage. That’s why it is a superior method to use than other drainage methodologies.
When you’re ready to blow out your sprinklers or irrigation system, here are the steps that you’ll want to follow.
1. Get your safety gear and tools together.
Since blowing out the sprinklers can put you around compressed air at higher pressure levels, you’ll need to take some safety precautions to reduce the risk of an injury. Always wear safety glasses for this type of work. []
It also helps to avoid looking directly over the sprinkler heads while building up the air pressure in the system. You don’t want to take a direct hit from any clogged debris or the water that comes flying out of the system.
2. Shut off the main water supply to the system.
Without taking this step, you’ll keep having additional water flow into the pipes. You’ll need to open the hose bib to ensure water drains out of the system from that point.
3. Turn off the timer to your watering system.
This step helps you reduce the risk of experiencing a mechanical or electrical fault while everything is offline. Some products require you to set your dashboard to “rain mode” to keep the programming consistent until it’s time to prepare everything for spring.
4. Attach the compressor to the irrigation system.
You’ll need to have a flexible hose available for the unit with an appropriate coupler. Close the airflow valves on the compressor, attach the coupler to the end of the hose, and then merge it with the blowout port on the pipes. []
If your irrigation system doesn’t have a port to fill the system with air, you can use an attachment similar to what a hose has to connect the airline to the system. Be careful about raising the pressure in this circumstance to prevent the threads from disengaging.
5. Start blowing out the sprinklers or irrigation system.
It helps to start at the zone furthest from the mainline to get all the water out of the system. If you have uneven terrain, it’ll be easier to start at the highest levels first. Zones with additional height often need more pressure, which is why it helps to get that work out of the way first. Don’t forget to close the backflow valves before turning on the compressor.
6. It helps to turn the compressor on slowly.
Gradually increase the pressure until reaching the recommended PSI levels for the distribution system. []
Once the lines start filling with air, you’ll see water coming out of the attached taps. When the water sprays out, close the taps except the one attached to the compressor.
That means you’ll need to verify that the compressor is on its lowest setting before beginning. If you turn it on at the maximum rate immediately, a greater risk of damage or injury occurs.
A Final Thought on Blowing Out an Irrigation System
When blowing out a sprinkler or irrigation system, you’ll need an air compressor with enough power to give you a minimum volume of 30 cubic feet per minute.
Anything less than that might not produce enough pressure to blow all the water out of the pipes.
Small household compressors don’t always meet that threshold, which means you might need to buy or rent one for this chore.
Please remember to keep the air pressure below 50 PSI for polyethylene installations or 80 PSI for PVC piping to prevent unwanted bursting.