Often we rely on draining our sprinkler system. But have you thought about what potential damage this will do to your system? Standing water in pipers and sprinklers might damage the inner components as it freezes during the winter months. It leads to ice formation, resulting in bursts, leakages, and malfunctioning.
It is crucial to completely blow out and remove the water at the very beginning of the winter season. The lingering water also causes components of the sprinkler system to erode and get weaker. The worst-case scenario is ice formation which leads to embrittling of interior walls of pipes, eventually cracking them.
The blowout method of removing water can save your system from damage and keep it functional and active for the coming spring. Here is a brief guide to blowing out the water and its importance, safety guidelines to ensure a successful process even if you are not a professional.
Introduction to Blow Out and Its Importance
Most people shut their sprinkler system and let it drain. They think that nothing will happen and little leftover water will evaporate. But the question is, Is it a safe practice? The answer may or may not be yes.
In plain areas where usually pipe systems are parallel, there is a probability that your system will survive potential damage due to freezing as there is not much water left to form ice. But what if your system forms a dip to collect water. It is possible for valleys and steep terrains due to high and low ground. This one dip is enough to damage your system over time.
When ice forms in dips, it expands. This expansion of ice destroys the inner components of the system and produces bursts in pipes. You can hire a professional to do the blowout process for you. Undoubtedly, the damage costs you much greater than what you spend on blowing out extra water.
So, how does a sprinkler blowout help you save your system from damage? Sprinkler blowout uses an industrial compressor with a certain pressure range to expel leftover water out of your system. Clear the system and check whether it is ready for the cold season or not. This process ensures the safety of your system during the freezing winter months and saves you thousands of dollars in repair and maintenance.
Safety Consideration Before Blow Out Process
Before blowing out of the sprinkler system, follow all the safety guidelines. A serious injury may result if you operate carelessly. Always stay away from components like sprinklers, valves, and pipes during high-pressure air blowout.
Following are some safety precautions to ensure a successful sprinkler blowout process:
- Always wear gloves to ensure the safety of your hands and a strong grip.
- Wear ANSI-approved glasses for the safety of your eyes.
- Don’t look directly over the sprinkler head to avoid hitting by pressurized air and debris.
- Do not stand over components parts.
- Pressure should be 50 PSI for polyethylene pipe systems and 80 PSI for PVC pipe systems.
- Make sure to close manual drain valves after the blowout process.
- Use Proper equipment and tools for the job.
- Avoid blowing out the closed lines.
- Never do the over-blow out as it might damage the system.
- Once you’re done, open and close valves and release any trapped air.
Some additional measures are to proceed with reading manuals and guidelines about operating the equipment. One of the most important steps is choosing the right compressor for the blowout process.
Choosing the right Compressor
When choosing a compressor for the sprinkler blowout process, ensure it has enough capacity and pressure for your system. A general household compressor is not a good choice as it cannot blow out your irrigation system. Try to maintain a high and consistent volume to eject the water from the system evenly. Read the manuals and attachments for successfully operating your compressor.
Never blow out a zone for too long as it is not a good practice. Immediately cut the air pressure once it stops spraying water. The compressor must sustain a required PSI and CFM level for at least 1 minute per zone. Also, choosing a large compressor tank help to avoid time delays due to waiting for refilling.
Getting all the Tools Necessary for Blow Out of system
Getting all the required tools further makes the job easy. Contact your sprinkler supplier store to get all the tools. These are a hose for attaching the compressor to the sprinkler, a sprinkler bib adapter, and additional components and parts necessary for operation.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Blow Out Sprinkler System
Start with understanding manuals and guides to ensure a safe and successful blowout operation. Below are some of the steps you can follow to blow out the sprinkler on a well at home without the help of a professional.
Step 1: Turn Off the Main Water Supply
Turn the main water supply off before blowing out extra water from the sprinkler system. In this, you can stop the additional water flowing in the line. Now drain the remaining water by opening the hose bib connected to the main water supply. In this way, most of the water leaves the system naturally.
The main purpose of a pressurized air blowout is to remove leftover water. This natural drainage lets you complete the process more conveniently. So, first, drain the water and then conduct a blow-out operation.
Step 2: Release Air Pressure on the Pipes and Check the Air Compressor
When you stop the main water supply, the next step is to open bib hoses located on the mainline to release pressure on the pipes. This will help drain the water completely, leading to a successful blowout. Otherwise, water will remain trapped and cause damage in winter.
Different systems need different air pressure for successful water removal, so set the compressor and check the desired pressure. Pressure also varies for different pipe configurations. Start the process farthest from the center and remove air zone-by-zone. A pressure of 50-80 PSI is required depending on the type of pipes. Set the compressor near the activity area and apply pressure. Repeat the process until all the zones are blown out.
Step 3: Prepare the Hose and Attach it to Bib
Now prepare the hose once the compressor is ready and set for work. Connect the hos to the bib located on the mainline. The main purpose of the hose is to create a connection between the compressor and different parts of the system. Check whether the hose and bib make a secure and leak-free connection or not. An adapter is a better option to make a perfect alignment. Ensure all the components are working to their peak, as there is no space for any weakness that might degrade the blowout.
Step 4: Activate the Compressor and Start the Blow Out
By ensuring the proper setting, turn on the compressor and start the blowout process. Start from the farthest zones to check the hose's reach and capacity of the compressor. If the system has high and low levels, proceed from the high level to check the compressor's powers, or if you feel any inefficiency readjust the setting to match the requirements.
Shut off the backflow valves and enter the air at a steady rate. Repeat the process and complete the blowout process. Make sure to follow safety guidelines and wear safety goggles during the process. Also, don’t blow the air for a long time because it can cause wear and tear and may damage the system's interior. Carefully monitor the process and pressure reading to avoid any mishap.
Step 5: Disconnect the Equipment and Drain the Backflow Preventer
After the sprinklers stop spraying water, this marks the end of the blowout process. Now cease the blow-out operation, disconnect the hose from the bib, and deactivate the compressor. Remove lingering air pressure and unplug the air compressor.
Wrap up the equipment and store it in relevant storage space. Be confident. Now your system is ready to survive the cold and chilling winter season.
The Bottom Line
You’re equipped with the right methodology to blow out the system at home. Follow these steps and be careful while dealing with valves, compressors, and sprinklers. Especially for a newbie, locating valves and measuring pressure is a daunting task. Better to contact a professional if you feel any difficulty. Any negligence and lack of knowledge may lead to life-threatening injury. So, be careful while doing such projects and require help if you don't have the proper tools to operate the system.