Spring Irrigation Sprinkler System Startup and Winterization
Sprinkler System Winterization is a topic that often comes up just before some of the coldest days of the year. Homeowner's that don't employ a regular lawn maintenance service all year (who would otherwise keep up with this) come to realize that their sprinkler system's water pipes may be in danger of freezing if they are not winterized.
This fear is definitely true in "The North", where sustained lows will definitely freeze pipes, even if they are buried underground. Conversely, in Florida for instance, there is no fear of burst pipes because there are usually no sustained lows that would cause a problem.
Here in Lexington, S.C., it is debatable whether or not you need to winterize your sprinkler system. Generally speaking, if the pvc pipes were properly installed, burying them deep enough to avoid freezing, there is probably nothing to worry about.
If you do want to be sure though, evacuating all of the pipes and valves of all of the water can be done by blowing the system out with compressed air. Alternately, draining the system can be done by gravity if there is a low spot on the system that could be opened to allow the water to flow out.
Starting the system up in the spring, you have to be careful to open the valves slowly, allowing the system to fill with water without damaging the pipes, valves, or heads. This should be done by using the valve's bleeder screw, one zone at a time. Once all the air has been forced from the system, you can then set the sprinkler head spray pattern if need be and enjoy a well irrigated lawn.