Oct 23, 2016
Winter is Coming! Don't Neglect Your Fall Utah Home Maintenance
It’s hard to believe that in just a short time we’ll be bundling up for another Utah winter but it’s quickly on its way and there’s one fall maintenance chore that should never be neglected: Winterizing outdoor irrigation systems and exterior faucets. The time to do so is upon us, so if this is your first fall in your new home, we’ll walk you through the simple process.
Hoses and splitters can trap water that freezes
It’s important to disconnect the hose and the splitters early – Utah weather is wild and we may have an early freeze. Drain the water from the hoses and store them in a dry place so that they don’t become brittle. You can use a large plastic garbage bag it makes a handy winter storage container.
Next, check the exterior faucets for leaks around the spout and the handle. If the leak is happening at the handle, try tightening the packing nut first. If that doesn’t work, you may need to replace the washer behind it. You’ll find a video walk-through here of some "how to" tips to fix your outside faucet.
Shut off the water to the faucets and then turn on the faucet. This will drain whatever water is left, again helping to avoid a broken pipe. If you can’t isolate the water line to the faucet, use additional insulation, which we’ll discuss in the next step.
Even if you’ve drained the faucet, install an insulated cover to further protect it from freezing. These are available at large hardware and home improvement stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s.
Protecting the irrigation lines
PVC irrigation pipes have a tendency to crack and break when they freeze so it’s important to blow out your irrigation lines before the first freeze. It’s not hard to do but you’ll need some tools, a 100 psi air compressor and eye protection. Don’t neglect the latter – using compressed air can be dangerous.
Blow out the irrigation lines before the first freeze. Now, this isn’t a very challenging project but it does require some equipment you may not have on hand, such as a 100 psi air compressor. Should you decide to tackle the job on your own, here’s a walk-through:
Shut off the main water source to the irrigation system. If you can’t isolate the line, contact a plumber. Use a screwdriver to open the release valve, allowing air into the system. If you have flow sensors, remove them.
Choose the release valve furthest from you and use the compressor to force air into it. It should only take a few minutes to blow all of the water out. Close the valve and continue on with each subsequent valve, closing each one when it’s finished.
If your backflow system has ball valves, allow them to remain about half-open so that any leftover water to get out in a freeze.
Open the release valves at the lower end of the lines to release any water that may still be trapped.
Keep safety in mind
The experts at Hunter Industries provide homeowners with the following warnings:
- Always wear the appropriate eye protection. Hunter suggests that ANSI (American National Standards Institute)-approved eye protection is best.
- Stand away from irrigation system parts while you’re pressurizing the system with air.
- Never use the backflow or pump to blow out the system. First, do the blow-out then drain the pump or backflow.
Don’t forget to close the manual drain valves when you’re finished.
If you don’t feel you can handle the job on your own, call a local lawn care maintenance company in your area and let the professionals handle it.
Utah winters can be harsh, and spending a little bit of time on preventive home maintenance can save you some major headaches. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!