The Best Time of Year to Blow Out Your Sprinklers: A Comprehensive Guide

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Every homeowner with a lush green lawn knows the importance of a well-maintained sprinkler system. However, as the seasons change and winter approaches, there’s one crucial aspect of sprinkler system maintenance that often goes overlooked: the sprinkler blowout. This process is essential for winterizing sprinklers and ensuring they remain functional and damage-free throughout the colder months.

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Why Sprinkler Blowouts Matter

Many homeowners accustomed to colder winters may have learned from their parents or friends to cover their pipes with insulating materials prior to a hard freeze. While this is a commonplace chore, many homeowners are unaware that blowing out their sprinkler systems is also essential. 

It might surprise many to learn that neglecting this simple maintenance step can lead to significant damage. Even just a tiny amount of water left in the sprinkler system can freeze during winter. This frozen water can then expand, causing pipes to burst and leading to potential system damage that can cost thousands of dollars to repair come springtime.

A Detailed Step-by-Step Guide to Blowing Out Sprinklers

Having a sprinkler system is a boon for homeowners, ensuring their lawns remain lush and vibrant. However, as winter approaches, it takes more than just rolling up the hose, covering a pipe, and moving the sprinkler head into the garage to prepare for winter. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand the process of a sprinkler blowout:

Step 1: Turn Off the Water Supply

Begin by ensuring the main water supply to the sprinkler system is turned off. This is a safety measure to prevent any water from entering the system during the blowout process. To do this, locate the shut-off valve, which is typically found in your basement, garage, or near the water meter. Turn it off completely.

Step 2: Locate the Main Drain Valve

The main drain valve is generally situated at the lowest point of the sprinkler system. It’s designed to allow water to drain out, preventing any potential freezing. Before proceeding, ensure this valve is closed in order to avoid compressed air from escaping during the blowout.

Step 3: Connect an Air Compressor

An air compressor is essential for this process, as it will push out any remaining water in the system.
Attach the air compressor to the mainline using a quick-connect fitting. Ensure the compressor is set to the correct pressure, typically around 40-50psi, depending on your sprinkler system’s specifications. 

Warning: Too much pressure can damage the pipes, while too little might not effectively remove all the water.

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Step 4: Blow Out the Water

Next, you will activate the sprinkler zones one at a time, starting from the furthest zone and working your way closer to the compressor. To do this, allow the air compressor to push out any water from each area. You’ll notice a misty spray initially, gradually turning into a clear stream of air. This indicates that the water has been successfully removed from that zone. Just ensure each zone is completely dry before moving to the next.

Step 5: Inspect for Residual Water

After all zones have been activated and blown out, it’s essential to double-check for any remaining water. Look for any low spots in the system where water might have pooled. These areas are especially susceptible to freezing and potential damage.

Step 6: Turn Off All Valves and Disconnect

Once you’re confident that the system is entirely void of water, turn off all valves. You will then want to carefully disconnect the air compressor and store it. Plus, make sure that all sprinkler heads are lowered to their original positions if they’ve popped up during the blowout.

Pro Tip: Sprinkler Blowout Safety Precautions

When using machinery like an air compressor, it is always vital to take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe environment and minimize potential accidents. When performing a sprinkler system maintenance with a sprinkler blowout, you want to always do two things:

  1. Always wear safety goggles and ear protection when using an air compressor.
  2. Never stand directly over a sprinkler head during the blowout. The sudden rush of air can cause it to pop up and potentially cause injury.
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Timing is Everything When Winterizing Sprinklers

The best time for a sprinkler blowout largely depends on regional climates and changing weather conditions. For those living in Eastern Washington, where we provide our expert services, the climate plays a pivotal role in determining the ideal time for winterizing sprinklers.

Eastern Washington is characterized by its semi-arid climate, with cold winters that often bring freezing temperatures. We typically experience our first frost between late September and mid-October. Given this, homeowners in Eastern Washington should consider winterizing sprinklers in early fall, ideally by late September. This ensures that the system is safeguarded well before the first hard freeze, preventing any potential damage caused by lingering water in the pipes.

By being proactive and considering the unique climate of their home, homeowners can ensure their systems are safe and ready to function optimally when spring returns.

Why Choose Colonial Lawn & Garden for Your Sprinkler System Maintenance

While the process might seem straightforward, there are nuances to consider when performing sprinkler system maintenance. The benefits of hiring a professional service like Colonial Lawn & Garden are numerous. Our technicians, with their extensive training and meticulous approach, ensure that water is thoroughly purged from the system. They understand the intricacies of different sprinkler systems and can guarantee a job done right, saving homeowners from potentially costly damages.

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Moreover, with nearly 40 years of experience in the field, Colonial Lawn & Garden has established itself as Washington’s trusted choice for all landscaping needs, including winterizing sprinklers. Our commitment to keeping landscapes healthy and vibrant all year long extends to ensuring your sprinkler systems are well-maintained and winter-ready.

At the end of the day, your sprinkler system is an investment in the beauty and health of your lawn. As winter approaches, don’t leave its well-being to chance. Sprinkler system maintenance, especially the crucial step of a sprinkler blowout, can make all the difference between a smooth spring sprinkler startup and a costly repair job.

Contact Colonial Lawn & Garden today to schedule your professional sprinkler blowout. With our expertise and commitment to excellence, your lawn will thank you.