Winterizing your Irrigation System

There are 4 keys to winterizing your Irrigation system. 

  • Turn the main valve off for the water to the Irrigation System.
  • Set the automatic irrigation controller to the “rain” or comparable setting.
  • Release all water pressure in the pipes by turning on each of the valves.
  • Drain all of the water out of any irrigation components that might freeze. 

In the East Texas area you don’t need to worry about water freezing in your underground pipes as long as they are buried at 7 – 9 inches or deeper. A more in depth description of the above keys points can be found below:

  • Make sure that your main shut off valve is itself freeze proof by being buried below the freeze line (7 – 9 inches) or located in a heated space or wrapped in insulation. If you system lacks a shut off valve you’ll need to install one. 
  • Most automatic systems will need to be shut down or switched to “rain” mode which shuts off the signals to the valves. The controller will keep timing, your programming information won’t be lost, and the clock continues to run. Alternatively if you don’t have a “rain” mode you’ll need to shut down the controller. 
  • If your system is gear driven with rotor sprinklers installed above the ground, these will need to be drained so they don’t rupture during a freeze. If water can’t drain normally from your system you will be advised to install a drain valve somewhere on the pipe; a 1/2″ valve will work. You can also remove the rotors and shake the water out of them. Some rotors though contain a “check” valve that prevents water from draining out, if so you’ll have to remove them and shake the water out. 
  • Any above ground piping will need to be insulated, self sticking foam insulating tape wrapped around the pipe will work fine. You can also install handy foam insulating tubes you can pick up at any home supply store. 
  • Lastly you’ll need to insulate the back flow preventers and valves (or remove and store) if they are located above ground. Again insulation tape can be used for this. Do NOT block air vents or drain outlets on back flow preventers. 

Once the above steps are taken, you won’t have to worry about it again unless there is breakdown in any of these steps. The insulation can stay on year round!