Sprinkler Winterization

A Cut Above Landscape offers Sprinkler Winterization and Sprinkler Blowout services to residents of Thornton, Erie, Broomfield, Brighton, Commerce City, Westminster and Denver, Colorado.

Very few people want winter to come after a wonderful summer, except for snowboarders and skiers. With winter comes freezing temperatures... and the need to blow out your irrigation system.

Our staff uses trailer mounted compressed air systems with industrial grade regulators to insure the air pressure delivered will not blow up your irrigation system, but instead blow out your system. We will manually run each zone with compressed air until the majority of the water has been removed. We will close your main shutoff valves, inspect for visible leaks, and open all necessary drains.

A properly winterized system should last many leak free years.

Sprinkler Winterization FAQ:

Question 1) Why is it recommended to"Blow Out" a irrigation system using compressed air in Colorado?
Answer: Water expands when it freezes and is one of the few materials that does. When that water is in an irrigation system, the pipes must expand to accommodate the expansion. Most pipes won't expand, but instead break.

Sprinkler pipes, valves, and fittings are made of three materials, Copper, PVC or Poly. Each pipe type can be destroyed by freezing water. Copper pipe splits leaving a crack that can be inches long. Poly pipe will expand and rarely will be damaged by freezing water, but unfortunately poly pipe is joined with fittings that will crack into sharp chunks like a glass window falling to the ground. PVC fittings do the same thing, and depending on the nature of the PVC pipe it can split or crack too. Winterization blows all the water out of the low spots in the system.

Question 2) When should a sprinkler system be winterized in Colorado?
Answer: The historical freeze trends show October brings the first freeze .October 7th is the average first freeze in Denver, with October 2nd being the first freeze in the last few years. Typically the very first freeze is a short event that will not cause damage to irrigation systems, but we recommend winterizing mid to late September to early October.

Question 3) It already has been below freezing a few times, it is too late, the damage is done!
Answer: Wrong! Most sprinkler fittings are well below ground and are insulated by the soil. The first few freezes in the winter will not freeze these pipes, but when the deep winter cold comes and the soil temperatures drop, these components will freeze too.

Question 4) It is going to freeze tonight, how can I protect my own irrigation system before you come?
Answer: Feel free to email or call us for help. However you can protect a lot of the components by turning off the water shutoff for the system, commonly found in the basement or in a pit near the water meter in the yard.

On the side of your home there will be a back flow prevention device. If it has valves on it, either to shut off the water or little drains, turn each one to the halfway open halfway shut point. Then open the drain in your basement and let out all the water. This will drain the above ground components which are the first to freeze. We then can blow out the remainder. Draining these components will also allow us to blow out the remaining system even below freezing as we will not have to melt the ice in these pipes.

The following illustrations demonstrate a Pressure Vacuum Breaker set for summer and a Winterized Pressure Vacuum Breaker.

Pressure Vacuum Breaker Set for Summer

Winterized Pressure Vacuum Breaker:
Winterized Pressure Vacuum Breaker

Question 5) The drain in the basement, what should I do with it?
Answer: Your irrigation system valve has a drain for winterization. This drain is often a little nipple with a screw on cap. We recommend leaving this drain cap open all winter. The reason for this, is simple. Your shutoff valve might have a very small leak. If the drain was closed it would refill your irrigation system causing a possibility of freezing. If the drain cap is off, a very small leak will evaporate before it causes any damage. A faster leak then can be identified as moisture will be observed near this drain cap. If you see any moisture around your drain, call or email us so we can replace or repair the valve. It is a simple easy fix that will save expensive parts downstream of the valve!

Question 6) What should I do with my irrigation timer in the wintertime?
Answer: Leave it plugged in to the wall and the battery inside it. That way you won't have to reprogram it next summer. When we blow out the system we open each valve draining the water so there is no need to operate the valves again to drain them. Just turn the timer to "rain" or "off" so the valves won't operate in the winter.

Question 7) What do you do to protect my irrigation system during the winterization process?
Answer: We use industrial compressors with industrial components. A regulator and filter is installed inline between the compressor and your irrigation system preventing excessive pressure and dirt from entering the system. The pressure we use is often less than the water pressure your system is under all season long, and set below the pressure ratings of the various pipe components.

Please contact us with any additional questions.