When Should You Blow Out Your Sprinklers?

Sprinkler systems should be winterized when the watering season is over. You’ll know that the time to schedule a blowout for your sprinklers is near when you feel a chill in the air. When temperatures start to drop in the fall of the year, it’s a good idea to make plans for winterizing your sprinklers to protect them from freezing temperatures. Here is everything you need to know about when to blow out your sprinklers and how it’s done.

Timing for sprinkler blowout

Heritage Lawns KC recommends winterizing irrigation systems before the temperatures drop so low that the water is frozen in the pipes. The precise timing depends on where you live and when the watering season is over. It’s usually in the late fall for most areas. It’s best to time the winterization of your irrigation pipes and sprinkler systems just before an extreme freeze when the days are still warm enough to thaw the pipes

Why should you blow out your sprinklers?

Irrigation systems are different than the pipes that run through your home. They are exposed to cold weather that causes water to freeze in the pipes. Performing a sprinkler blowout can help to prevent damage. It is a preparation that will get your pipes and sprinklers ready for use the following spring. Failing to winterize can result in damage over the wintertime that can cause failures in the irrigation system. Also, irrigation water contains particles of dirt, weed seeds, and other debris that can clog the sprinklers. A good blowout helps to remove all the debris that collects throughout the watering season. Blowing out sprinklers protects them and gets them ready for use the following spring so you know they’re ready to go when it’s time to start irrigating once again.

According to Voss Landscape, blowing out sprinklers is a task that can easily be overlooked or forgotten, but when they’re not properly winterized and blown out, the first deep freeze of the winter can result in crake, damaged and broken pipes in the spring. When water freezes, the molecules expand and can cause severe damage that you won’t notice until you go to power up the system. Repairs can be difficult to make as well as expensive. Winterizing involves blowing all of the water out of the system to avoid this pitfall.

How do you blow out sprinklers?

There are a few options for blowing out sprinkler systems. If you have a large setup it might be worth your time to hire a service to come out and winterize the system. If you want to save money, you can also winterize them DIY style. According to the Lawn Forum, It’s recommended to use a high CFM air compressor to blow out the water versus higher PSI. This is to protect the pop-up heads from high pressures which can damage them. Avoid air pressures above 40 PSI when blowing out sprinklers to protect the heads and the valves.

Using a portable air compressor

It’s recommended to set the pressure output of portable air compressors to 40 PSI. Allow the tank to fill for several minutes until it reaches its maximum, which in most cases is 120 PSY for a 15-gallon compressor. Activate the irrigation valve after attaching the compressor and slowly crack open the air to blow out the water from the pipes and the sprinkler heads. When you’re using a small system, be aware that the air usually flows for between 30 to 60 seconds before the tank pressure drops too low to be effective. The goal is to blow out all of the remaining water. It’s best to repeat the process for each zone of the sprinkler system to ensure that all of the water is blown out of the pipes and sprinkler heads.

If you have a larger air compressor it will make the tedious process go a lot faster. Avoid going beyond 40 PSI because it can cause damage to the sprinkler heads. It’s not worth the expense of repairing them to attempt to make the process go faster. Slow and steady is the best rule of thumb to follow. It’s better to take your time to get all the water out of the pipes and heads without moving too quickly or using too much air pressure when you’re blowing out the pipes. Ideally, performing this task when nights are cold and days are hot will allow for the natural heat of the day to evaporate any small amounts of leftover moisture in the irrigation system to go into the wintertime with dry pipes that will be ready to go when it’s time to start up the spring watering season.

Final thoughts

Blowing out sprinklers can be a tedious process but it’s a task that can save a lot of work and expense for the following year. It’s done to winterize irrigation systems after the fall irrigating season has passed, to help prepare for the following year. You should get into the habit of blowing out your sprinkler system every fall, just before the first deep freezes hit the area. You can either hire a service to come out and perform the task for you or do it yourself with an air compressor. It’s important to keep the PSI no higher than 40 to avoid damaging the sprinkler heads. Start with one sector at a time and work your way down. Although this can be a time-consuming process, it is well worth taking a few hours to do a thorough job to blow all of the remaining water out of your sprinklers and irrigation pipes. When it’s time to fire up the system again in the spring, your pipes and sprinklers will still be in good repair and ready to go for another watering season.

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