Vail Landscape Logic: Protect your sprinkler system from early freeze | VailDaily.com

Vail Landscape Logic: Protect your sprinkler system from early freeze

Becky Garber
Landscape Logic
Sprinkler systems that are not winterized by blowing out the lines with compressed air will be very vulnerable to additional freeze damage. Pipes can break, and valves can also be damaged.
Special to the Daily | iStockphoto

We’ve enjoyed a record-breaking warm September throughout much of Colorado, and even though it’s October, we’re still running our sprinkler systems. Yet, as we all know, the temperature can take a sudden nosedive into a deep freeze, and that could happen soon.

After an isolated night or two of freezing temperatures, it’s also common for temperatures to warm up. The short-lived temperature swing into the freeze zone could damage your sprinkler system’s backflow-prevention device and even lead to property damage. That’s why it’s important to protect it against freeze damage to keep the system in good working order until it is winterized.

The backflow-prevention device is usually the single most expensive irrigation system component. It is what keeps outdoor water from backing into the water used indoors, and it’s also the most vulnerable to freeze damage. It’s above ground, full of water and can freeze when temps hit 32 degrees.

The backflow-prevention device is most often located outdoors and somewhere close to the foundation. Once the sprinkler system is properly winterized by blowing it out with compressed air, this device is out of danger for the winter. But until it’s been winterized, it can still suffer damage and needs to be protected in the event of freezing temps.

INSULATE AND PROTECT

When the forecast calls for temps dipping down to 32 degrees, taking a few steps in a few minutes can provide the protection it needs. And you can protect the device with everyday household items yourself.

Here’s what to do:

• Wrap a large towel or insulation around the backflow device and exposed pipes.

• Cover the towel with a plastic trash bag.

• Secure these items at the base of the device with duct tape.

The towel or insulation provides protection against the cold, while the trash bag keeps damaging moisture out and the tape holds it all in place. As long as this device remains pressurized and protected, you can continue to use the sprinkler system. Once the sprinkler system has been winterized, the device no longer will need this protection.

Sprinkler systems that are not winterized by blowing out the lines with compressed air will be very vulnerable to additional freeze damage. Pipes can break, and valves can also be damaged. In the long run, proper winterization is good insurance that your sprinkler system will be just as good next spring as when it was put to bed for the winter.

To make sure your system is winterized prior to a hard freeze, it’s wise to schedule the service well in advance ­— even if you need to water occasionally with a hose on warm days.

Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.