Blowing Out Your Irrigation System

Preparing Your Lawn Irrigation System for Winter

By Mark J. Donovan

In preparation for the onslaught of winter I went through the process today of blowing out my irrigation system. I had never done this task before and had some reservations about doing it properly. Suffice it to say, however, with an air compressor and some due diligence I was successful in preparing my lawn irrigation system for winter.

If you have a lawn irrigation system and live in a cold climate it is vital to blow out your irrigation system in the fall season. Not doing so will almost surely lead to cracked sprinkler heads and pipes during the winter.

Due to the fact that I live in New Hampshire where the winters are often brutally cold I also removed the water pump that sucks in water from the adjacent lake to feed the irrigation system.

Removing the water pump was a bit of a challenge due to the fact that the electrical wiring was not designed with a simple plug/outlet. Consequently I had to remove the end of the well pump and disconnect the electrical wires that were attached to it (after first turning off power to the pump at the main circuit breaker). I also turned off the irrigation system control circuitry at this point and time too. Removing the hoses from both sides of the well pump was also a challenge. I had to loosen up ring clamps and then pull like heck to remove the hoses from the water pump.

To blow out my irrigation system I used a compressor and a trigger nozzle on the end of the compressor hose to pump compressed air into each zone of the sprinkler irrigation system.

After removing the water pump I sealed up the end of the irrigation system source pipe with duct tape. This way I was able to maintain a high pressure in the lawn irrigation system to blow out residual water in the pipes and sprinkler heads.

With my particular lawn irrigation system there were vertical end caps on each irrigation sprinkler zone. For each end cap, I removed it and replaced it with a temporary modified cap. The modified cap had a small hole in the top of it that allowed me to pump compressed air into the sprinkler zone with the trigger nozzle.

Install an irrigation system to ensure you lawn is water regularly and properly.

As I effectively charged the sprinkler zone with air, the sprinkler systems on the zone popped up and water and air hissed out. I continued to pump air into the zone until only air was coming out of the sprinkler heads. I repeated this process for each sprinkler zone.

Overall it took me about 2 hours to do the job, one of which was dedicated to disconnecting and removing the well pump. Come spring, my lawn irrigation system should be in perfect working order, after I reinstall the water pump!

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