During winter, we need to do several things to protect our houses and yards from damage. One crucial part of protecting your property is preventing your sprinkler pipes from freezing. When temperatures drop and the ground freezes, water in your sprinkler can freeze and expand, causing considerable damage.
As Omaha can experience late freezes, you must always be aware of the dropping temperatures and sudden cold snaps. You can take a few steps to stop your pipes from freezing, including switching off the water supply and insulating exposed sprinkler elements. Here are a few ways to prevent pipes from freezing and protect your sprinkler system before and during a hard freeze.
Table of Contents
- What You Need to Prevent Pipes From Freezing in Omaha
- How to Protect Your Lawn Sprinkler System
- Learn More About Our Winterization Service!
What You Need to Prevent Pipes From Freezing in Omaha
Frozen pipes in your lawn sprinkler system can cause significant damage that requires costly repairs. During colder months, you must take care of your sprinkler system to prevent frozen pipes. As Omaha can have hard freezes throughout winter, there are a few things you should do to protect your sprinkler pipes from freezing:
Shut Off Water Supply
The first thing you need to do is switch off the water supply to your irrigation system. This will prevent water from seeping into your pipes during winter and freezing them.
Here is how you can switch off the water supply:
- Shut off the sprinkler system controller: Go to your sprinkler system controller and hit the off button for water. Avoid unplugging the system as this can erase your schedule settings. While at the control box, switch off any timers to prevent accidental operation during winter.
- Turn off the backflow preventer: The backflow preventer device should be outside your house or in your basement. There should be two pipes leading into and out of the preventer. Turn either one off to stop water from entering your lawn sprinkler system.
- Check the main water supply: The main water supply provides water to your house and lawn sprinkler system. It will either be in your basement, near the exterior of your house or in a utility closet. The main shut-off valve is typically attached to a pipe that extends from your main water line. The pipe’s position will dictate which way you turn the valve, either left, right, up or down. Test your house’s water to ensure you have switched off the correct water supply.
Drain the Pipes
Draining your sprinkler water pipes ensures there is no water left behind in your system that can freeze during sudden and unexpected hard freezes. This is an essential step in protecting your pipes and may require the services of a professional lawn sprinkler company to ensure it is completed correctly.
If you want to drain your system yourself, there are a few ways to do this:
- Manual: Look for each zone’s manual drain valve and open them. They are typically located downstream of each valve. They may take a few days, so leave the valves open to ensure all water drains out. Once the water stops draining, close the valves to protect them from the elements.
- Automatic: Once you switch off the main water supply, water will drain automatically as the pressure drops in the sprinkler system. Locate the drain cap and open it to drain water from the system. The drain cap is usually between the backflow preventer device and the main water supply.
- System blowout: Air is used to force out any water left in your sprinkler system. Ensure you alternate zone blowouts to prevent damage. Draining your pipes this way can be challenging, so you should consider working with a lawn sprinkler professional to avoid any damage.
Insulate and Cover
Once you have shut off the water supply and drained your lawn sprinkler system pipes, you should insulate and cover exposed elements. Spigots, sprinkler heads, pipes and hose bibs are exposed to the elements and vulnerable to freezing without adequate protection. Insulated parts are less likely to freeze if water is left in the system.
Use foam insulation and pipe wrap tape to insulate exposed pipes. Cover them with pipe wrap tape to help fasten the foam insulation and provide an extra layer of protection. Insulate the backflow preventer device with an insulated backflow bag. This will protect your sprinkler backflow from freezing.
How to Protect Your Lawn Sprinkler System
Protecting your sprinkler system before and during a freeze is essential. You need to know when hard freezes are coming and what a hard freeze means for your sprinkler system.
What Temperature Do Underground Sprinkler Systems Freeze?
The water in the sprinkler pipes freezes and expands, damaging your underground system. As water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, a sprinkler system will freeze at that temperature. When temperatures drop to the freezing point and below, you should start worrying about your sprinkler system.
In Omaha, a hard freeze includes temperatures 28 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Monitor the temperature in your area regularly, even when you think winter is coming to an end. Sudden cold snaps and hard freezes can damage your sprinkler system if you turn it on too early.
Protecting Sprinkler Pipes Before a Freeze
Before a freeze hits, it is vital to take measures to protect your sprinkler pipes. If you have had to run your sprinkler on a warm day or turned on your system early, follow the steps set out above to drain any water from the pipes and protect the system. Avoid running your sprinkler before a freeze unless you have the time to get rid of any water.
Ensure you have switched off the water supply, insulated the exposed parts and drained the system. Turn off any automatic timers or set them to rain mode. You can also switch off the system entirely, but you will have to reprogram it when you switch it back on. Check all the insulation you added is still in place and cover any missing spots.
You can also invest in a rain and freeze sensor which will stop your sprinkler system from running during specific temperatures of hard rain. This sensor can help lower water usage and prevent freezing pipes in cold weather. Another excellent investment is a pipe freeze protection system which comprises cables wrapped around your sprinkler pipes to distribute radiant heating. The system helps prevent freezing.
Protecting Sprinkler Pipes During a Freeze
The easiest way to protect your sprinkler system is to keep it switched off. Do not run your sprinklers during a freeze. The water can freeze in the sprinkler pipes causing burst pipes and flooding.
Adding antifreeze to the pipes can lower the freezing point of the system and minimize the risk of freezing. Always contact a professional when adding antifreeze to get the right amount and concentration. Using too much or too little antifreeze can damage your system and might not be effective.
Learn More About Our Winterization Service!
Winterizing and protecting your sprinkler pipes from freezing can be challenging. At Nature’s Helper, we have over 24 years of experience installing, maintaining and safeguarding sprinkler systems. Our professional sprinkler winterization services can help you protect your sprinkler system during winter.
Request a quote for lawn sprinkler winterization today!