Winterizing Sprinkler System, for the first time

Old 10-20-11, 06:27 PM
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Winterizing Sprinkler System, for the first time

Hi, i bought a air compressor for many reasons, one being to winterize my sprinkler system. I have all the right parts to make a proper connection to my system directly after the well input to my system. My sprinklers are fed directly from a well. The well only is only used for my sprinker system. I have a rain bird esp-m sprinkler controller. that is where my question lies. If i want to use the controller to automatically open the valves for blow out of each zone (without doing it manually), which wires do i disconnect from the controller or how do i accomplish this blowout? I assume i have to trick the system by removing a wire which sends the signal to the well pump. Is this assumption correct and how do i accomplish this? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!
Old 10-20-11, 08:54 PM
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While it's been too many years since I lived with an irrigated lawn (Montrose, CO, 10 years ago) to remember all of the details, I do remember the service performed by the handyman guy we hired every fall to blow out the system. As I recall, our Rainbird sprinkler heads were not activated by a signal from the master controller, but rather by pressurized water flow from the manifold (each line of which was pressurized, one at a time, by a signal from the controller). Handyman Mark would disconnect the 4 individual zones from the controller, and hook his huge (600 CFM) rented compressor up with a threaded coupler, separately, blowing out each zone's feed line. Air pressure would force the water ahead of it in each zone out of each head. Worked like a charm, and he did it for dozens of preperty owners in the area every year, for a very nominal fee. Don't remember the exact amount, but I thought at the time it was a bargain. And I know my puny 3 HP compressor couldn't have done nearly the job his did.
Old 10-21-11, 08:13 PM
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You need a big tow-able air compressor. Something that will produce at least 80 CFM.

You probably have a blow out port in your system - mine is a 1 inch PVC male threaded connector. You'll need to rig something up to go from the compressors 1 inch "Chicago" fitting to your blow out port.

You do one zone at a time - I don't think your well pump will need to be running - just cycle through your zones. When you select a zone, it opens a solenoid in your valve box and allows either pressurized water though or in this case, pressurized air. Be sure to shut off the air pressure before closing the valves - you don't want all that air pressure pushing on the valve and building in your lines (my neighbor blew a line out of his yard this way - sprayed mud and grass all the way up the side of his house!)

All said and done, around here it costs about $150 to have a service do it for you. It might be worth it to watch the pros do it once before you take it over. I just rented a big compressor this afternoon - it was $103 for a 1 day rental but I split it with 5 or 6 neighbors so it's inexpensive for us to go this route.
Old 10-21-11, 09:10 PM
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We shut off the water to the system with a ball valve, then immediately after that, there is a spigot that we open to let most of the water drain out of the line. Once it's done draining then we're ready to blow air thru the remaining sprinkler lines.

On the Rainbird at our congregation (which we just winterized today) you set it to Auto (where ours usually is) and then just hit the manual advance button to turn each zone on manually. Let it run for a minute or so, then hit manual advance again, and repeat this until you have gone through each zone at least twice.

Our system then has some pipe caps in a couple on the boxes in the yard that we take off (disconnect air first, then reconnect when ready), and hold our hand over, let pressure build, then let the hand go and see if anything spits out of the main line. Then put the caps back on.

Its a good job for two people. You don't want to let the compressor build up too much pressure while its connected. Setting the regulator to about 50 psi is probably a good idea just to make sure you don't blow something up.
Old 10-22-11, 11:59 PM
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to answer the one question I belive your asking, if your well pump is wired to the master valve circut just disconnect that wire and the pump will not start.
Old 10-30-11, 10:38 AM
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You can turn the breaker to the pump off and the pump will not run when the zones are selected, as an simultaneous 24 volts from the timer energizes a relay box for the well input voltage either 120/240...I think you should turn that breaker off any way so there is no possibility of the pump coming on by accident... In theory all you have to remove is 20% of the water to allow for expansion but I always blow out 95% with never a problem, the zone valves are what concern me the most with regard to freezing..

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