How To Avoid Costly Irrigation Repairs by Temporarily Shutting Down Your Irrigation System

Really nice! Thank you Mother Nature! I fired up my irrigation system to begin watering this early spring and Mother Nature decides she is not quite ready to end winter for us all! It was 70 degrees yesterday and tonight it is suppose to drop below freezing! What am I supposed to do now…?

A sure indication of ones residency in Colorado!! Please note that these same steps are used when facing rapid temperature fluctuations in the early fall as well. All is not lost and there is no reason to panic! Please read on…

Your irrigation systems below grade (ground) components will typically not be damaged during short duration cold snaps. It is the above grade (ground) components that can easily be affected by a sudden drop in temperatures. By performing the steps sprinkler and irrigation repairs outlined here you will in most cases prevent an undue irrigation repair expense. Replacing a broken Backflow Preventer/Vacuum Breaker bonnet poppet kit will run you approximately $30.00 or so for the kit and another $65.00 or so for labor…For 10 minutes of your time spent now in preventing damage, you can save that money and treat your family to a great pizza night out!

Please be aware that these instructions relate to the typical irrigation system we find present at most homes. Should yours be different in design, please do not hesitate to contact us for some emergency assistance over the phone. A few photos with your smartphone will simplify diagnosing what steps you will need to take with your system.

So here we go! It should only take approximately 10 minutes or so to complete this money saving operation! You simply need to arm yourself with a medium size flat bladed screw driver and a pair of pliers!

Step 1-SHUT OFF THE WATER SUPPLY TO YOUR IRRIGATION SYSTEM… Go to the location inside your home where the main water supply valve is for your irrigation system which is located. Typically this may be in the basement, laundry room or possibly a closet. Turn that valve off by being sure it is at a ninety degree angle to the water pipe and not parallel. Please make sure you do not turn off the water to the entire house!

Step 2-LOCATE THE BACKFLOW PREVENTER/VACUM BREAKER… This will be located on the outside of your home typically on the side of your home. It is a combination of copper pipes, brass valves and other valuable metal components.

Step 3-TURN BOTH OF THE HANDLES ON THE BACKFLOW PREVENTER/VACUUM BREAKER… The two ball valve handles will typically be blue in color if your system is relatively new. Turn each handle approximately 45 degrees…Not fully closed nor fully open. While standing in this location looking at all the pipes and valves, you will typically note two black plastic protective caps protecting two drain petcocks. Remove the caps and using your screwdriver, turn each slotted petcock so that water begins to drain. Please be careful as there will some pressure forcing the water to drain. Leave the two petcocks open. Look to see if if there appears to be a small brass cap on any of the elbows or connecting pipes relative to the Backflow Preventer/Vacuum Breaker…If so very carefully remove the cap with your pliers and note not to loose the “O” ring inside. Once the water has drained, replace this cap loosely being certain the “O”ring is still inside the cap. You did not loose the “O”ring did you?

Step 4-OPEN NEARBY DRAIN VALVE(S)… If your system has a master control valve, typically located within a small round valve box near the backflow Preventer/Vacuum Breaker use the valve key provided to you when your system was installed to open the valve and allow it to drain. Note: A valve key is a shiny 30” long rod with a triangular handle and a U shaped piece at the opposite end. This tool permits you to open and close the brass cross handle to the master valve or at the drains at your various valve box locations throughout your system.

Step 5-RETURN TO YOUR IRRIGSTION SYSTEMS SUPPLY VALVE AREA… Return to the main water supply valve area inside your home and look to see if if there appears to be a small brass cap on any of the elbows or connecting pipes relative to the irrigation system supply components…If so very carefully remove the cap with your pliers and note not to loose the “O” ring inside. Once the water has drained into a small bucket or container, replace this cap loosely being certain the “O”ring is still inside the cap. You did not loose the “O” ring did you?

Now you can relax knowing your irrigation systems components are protected from damage!

Tomorrow will be another beautiful day, most likely with temperatures well above freezing but now you know how to react should Mother Nature decide to spring another quick freeze upon us all!

Scott Solvie

About Scott Solvie

Scott's landscape industry career began in 1975 where he blossomed within the landscape maintenance branch of the industry. He was awarded frequently for his depth of knowledge and understanding of professional landscape care as well as his approach to customer service. He was featured in both industry publications as well as the Chicago Tribune and other periodicals where he strived to provide a better understanding and view into his own experiences and help mold a more desirable perception of professional landscape care. His passion for unique and well thought out landscape design brought him the compliments of many a client that to this day remain a testament to his ability to earn the trust and respect of those he gains the opportunity to help in all aspects of landscaping. In an ever evolving world, Scott's love for the entire spectrum of the landscape industry stays true to providing his clients with well studied, accurate and above all honest approach on how best to fulfill his clients personal landscape goals. In an industry that is often riddled with unscrupulous and ill educated contractors, Scott stands as a cornerstone for those that are passionate about what they do, enjoy helping others achieve their landscape goals and develop long term professional client relationships