Do I need to winterize sprinklers in Portland?
October 16, 2010 9:50 PM   Subscribe

Do I need to winterize my sprinkler system in Portland, OR? If so, how?

This is the first winter in our new house. We have an underground sprinkler system w/ PVC pipe. It is existing so I am unsure of how deep the PVC is buried. I have 5 valves and a dead timer, so I have been manually opening them until I get a new unit. I am in Portland, OR so we get snow MAYBE once a year. Past couple of years have been unusally cold, and I did have to repair the manifold due to cracked pipes. So it is safe to say I need to do something, but what?

Do I need to winterize? If so how? I have been searching but the valves everyone talks about having is lacking in my system. If my underground lines will be fine, how do I protect the exposed PVC manifold and valves? Should I just wrap them with pipe insulation?
posted by NotSoSimple to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Best answer: You blow it out with a big air compressor, one zone at a time. The irrigation companies will do this for you. Phone around for the best quote.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:21 PM on October 16, 2010

Your timer probably has a 9 volt battery to keep the time correct if the house power goes off. Check or replace that, set the correct time, and test the contacts for each zone with a meter when the timer is on. It is likely 24 volts AC. Check for broken fuses. If you get 24 volts, look for a wire off at the valve end.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:58 AM on October 17, 2010

You want to have a secure shutoff valve at the top end of the whole system, so that you can blow it out and water will not leak back into the lines and freeze. Don't try to use a small (workshop) compressor. You need lots of air volume, so you want the irrigation guys to use the big gas/diesel one on its own trailer. They do the rounds at this time every year, so ask when they'll be in your neighborhood.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:06 AM on October 17, 2010

Response by poster: So my 60 Gallon shop compressor wont work then? Was hoping to NOT pay someone since I am rather DIY oriented.
posted by NotSoSimple at 11:33 AM on October 17, 2010

It might work, depending on the size of your zones. While it is pumping you and a friend could depress (gently step on) the upline sprinkler heads to close them off so that only one or two at the bottom of the line are open. That will help increase the pressure. You should see lots of fine, steamy mist coming out--when that diminishes, you're done.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:34 PM on October 17, 2010

If you have a filter at the head of your line, take it apart and clean it out. You could leave it open during the winter so any water leaking through the main shutoff valve will drip out there and not get into your lines where it could freeze.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:40 PM on October 17, 2010

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