If you’ve got an irrigation system in the north or other cold climate, it’s important to fully winterize them before the freezing cold comes in. We’re going to talk about how we do just that!
The gist of why we have to do this is that water will expand when its frozen, which can wreak havoc on your irrigation system components. It can cause everything from your irrigation tubing to burst to the fracturing your emitters or dripline. If you want to avoid time consuming repairs come the next spring, winterizing your irrigation systems is an essential step to take prior to freezing temperatures rolling in.
This tool is called a blowout adapter, or sometimes called an RV winterizing kit. It’s design allows you to connect an air compressor quick connect fitting to standard garden hose fittings. It has a little valve that allows you to slow down or stop the introduction of air into the system. The idea is to use air to push all the water out of your irrigation piping and emitters. You don’t need some fancy, high end air compressor to do this, even the small and inexpensive ones will work.
We like to put our winterizing kit into our little garden cart. This allows us to bring everything to where we need to winterize, as opposed to needing super long lengths of air compressor hose to bring around your property.
When you do this, it’s really important to start very slowly by barely cracking the valve, allowing a little bit of air in at a time. Irrigation tubing is really not designed to take high pressures, so you want to avoid filling the system with too much air too quickly. Work slowly until you’re sure the entire system is absent of water. We often empty several full tanks of compressed air into each line.
In cold climate irrigation designs, it’s also very helpful to have valves that you can open or close to force water out of the system. We usually end each irrigation line with a valve or removable garden hose threaded cap to allow easy evacuation of the water from the system. In more complex systems, you’ll find the valves helpful for forcing air in particular directions.
We are definitely in winter shutdown mode here and this is one of those essential tasks to hit before temps dip below freezing! We do keep our off-grid water tank, pump and a hose going right until the cusp of freezing, just in case we have any late season water needs like equipment cleaning. Fortunately, your plants really won’t sip a lot of water in the cooler temperatures, so you can often complete this task well before risks of freezing temps hit!