When it comes to taking care of your sprinklers, it’s important to know that all sprinklers aren’t created the same. Some are better equipped to distribute significant amounts of water or to water small surface areas properly. So, before you come up with a specific maintenance plan for your sprinkler system, talk with the professionals who installed your system to get the proper instructions for keeping your sprinklers running like new.
In addition to this, there are some general tips you can take advantage of to ensure that your lawn is getting the right amount of water throughout the year. Here are some points to keep in mind.
Winterizing Your Sprinklers
Every fall, you should winterize your sprinklers to keep the sprinkler system in excellent condition for the warmer months of the year. First, you’ll need to see that your sprinkler system is running properly. Your sprinkler heads should be clear and free of blockage and directed at the plants you need to water.
Make sure there are no damp spots in your lawn since this could be an indication of a broken line or a leak in the sprinkler system. This is also the time to have your backflow checked. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, there’s a good chance that you have a backflow connection and you’ll need to have it checked every year according to the law. Get in touch with your water provider for specific regulations regarding this, and be sure to ask to speak with the backflow or cross connection specialist.
Empty your sprinkler system of all water by turning it off completely during the winter. This also includes the drip system, so that you won’t have to deal with pipe swelling and freezing. You’ll also have to insulate your sprinkler system by packing it in pine straw or otherwise sheltering the sprinkler system from the cold. It’s also a good idea to have a main shut-off valve since it can be a preventative measure to avoid sprinkler system repairs when the weather warms up.
Keep Up With the Irrigation System
If you have an irrigation system for your sprinkler system, you’ll need to shut down the controller during the winter months. This will turn off the signal to the valves, but your programming information (run times, alert times, etc.,) will still be in place when you turn the system back on. If your irrigation system controller activates a pump, remove the wires that are connected to “common” and “MV.” This will ensure that the pump will not be activated, which can lead to overheating. Not only are you saving your lawn and keeping your sprinkler system intact, but you’re also conserving electricity.
Drain Your Pipes and Protect Your Irrigation System
If you live in an area that doesn’t get extremely cold, it’s not necessary to take all the water from the underground pipes of your sprinkler system, since the water doesn’t freeze that deep. However, you do need to remove most of the water from your pipes to prevent it from freezing and causing pipe breakage.
There are many ways that you can drain your pipes. You can use a manual drain valve, the compressed air blow-out method or the automatic drain valve. Contact a local irrigation specialist to make sure that your pipes are drained correctly.
It’s also a good idea to insulate your lawn irrigation backflow preventers if your pipes are above ground. You can also use insulation tips or pine straw to insulate above ground pipes. While it may be a bit of a hassle to take these preventative measures during the cold weather, it will prove to be worth it in the spring when you need to start watering your lawn and plants again.
Store Your Garden Hose
Make sure your garden hoses are emptied and disconnected from all outdoor faucets during the winter. Put your garden hose in the garage or attic for storage after you insulate the outside pipes of your sprinkler system. This is also a good time to clean out the downspouts and gutters, so you won’t have to deal with water overflow if you live in an area where it rains during the winter.
As you’re maintaining the function of your sprinkler system, it’s also best to find other ways to save water in general. This will keep you from paying excessive prices in water bills and will decrease the chances that your pipes will become damaged, especially during the months when you’re not using your sprinklers. These water-saving tips can help your sprinkler to run well during the warm months of the year.
Check for Leaks
Make sure that your pipes and sinks aren’t leaking, since this could cause structural issues in your home and interfere with the sprinkler system.
Freeze Your Grease
When you cook, don’t throw the grease down the drain. This can clog the pipes and damage the plumbing and sprinkler system. Instead, empty the grease from your frying pan or skillet and freeze the grease before throwing it in the trash.
Cut Off the Water Supply
You need to know where the shut-off points are for the water valves in your home. Some of these valves are likely connected to your sprinkler system as well, so you need to know how to shut them off if a pipe bursts.
If you scrape off your dishes instead of pre-rinsing them before putting them in the dishwasher, you’ll save about 20 gallons of water. If you let the dirty dishes sit overnight, use the rinse setting on the dishwasher to get rid of excess food. This way your dishes will be cleaned efficiently, and you can save water. This water conservation tip will especially come in handy when it’s time to use your sprinkler again.
These are just a few of the simple tips that you can implement to make sure that your sprinkler system works its best for years to come. As you can see, these suggestions will not only save your sprinklers but can save you money and keep your home intact as well.