Winterizing an Irrigation System
In most parts of the country there is concern about freezing and freeze damage to a drip irrigation system during winter. Follow the simple steps below to ensure that your irrigation system is ready for winter.
Shut off and drain the system
Shut off the main water supply and remove the faucet assembly (timer, filter, pressure regulator, etc.) at the start of the system. These components should be drained and brought indoors to protect them from freezing. Battery timers should have the batteries removed over winter to avoid damage and corrosion.
Open all manual valves and remove all end fittings to drain the irrigation system. Poly mainline tubing is not damaged by freezing, but fittings may crack if water is left in them. When draining the lines, slightly elevate the fittings to make sure they are drained.
Flush Valves can be installed at low points in the line to assist with draining the system. Flush valves will open every time the system shuts off, draining water trapped in the line. Emitters can also be installed at low points to assist with draining.
Blowing out the lines
Another common method is to blow out the lines using compressed air. This is a time saving and effective method. Make sure to remove end fittings before blowing out the lines to avoid damaging the irrigation system.
Seal off the open lines
After the lines have drained, make sure to replace all end fittings. Leave end caps loose to allow for draining throughout the winter.
The beginning of the system where the faucet assembly was removed should be sealed off as well. Use a female hose plug to seal the female hose start fitting at the beginning of the system. A plastic bag or other barrier could also be used to cover the opening of the system.
Never leave lines open; debris, insects and other creatures may take shelter in the open lines.
To extend the growing season, Agribon Rowcover can be used to cover plants and protect them from frost damage.
When restarting the system for the new growing season make sure to tighten all end caps and check for leaks or any damage that may have occurred over winter. New alkaline batteries should be installed in battery timers and any cracked or damaged components replaced.