It’s just a couple more days until it’s time to get decked out in all-green for St. Paddy’s Day, but your lawn’s big green day is also right around the corner. If you’re in one of the regions that has experienced an unusually mild winter, it could be today!
Cultivating a healthy, green lawn and garden takes plenty of water, and many homeowners have turned to professional irrigation systems to keep things lush without dragging out the hose and watering can every other day. If you’re among them, make sure you start the season right by carefully inspecting and recharging your sprinkler system.
Is It Spring Yet?
It’s important not to de-winterize your irrigation system too early. Filling those buried pipes can cause them to wobble and flex, and if the soil is still frozen solid, this could cause damage.
Find an area of your lawn where it’s safe to dig and use a shovel to dig down to about 12 inches. If the soil is thawed, you’re ready to proceed.
The next step is to inspect your electrical components like timers and displays. If you disconnected these devices and stored them for winter, it’s time to reconnect them and make necessary changes to reflect the current date and weather conditions.
If you left the electrical parts in place, clean them well and check to make sure everything is functioning normally. If there are any battery operated components, it’s especially important to check the conditions of the batteries. It’s a good idea to remove these when winterizing to avoid ruptured batteries or corrosion.
Though labor-intensive, it’s important to check and clean every sprinkler head before starting your system. These can be jammed with dirt, pebbles and other debris from the long winter, and if you run your sprinklers with clogged heads, serious damage can result. Take your time and use a small wire brush if necessary to get every head clean.
Open and Close
Before you can fill your system with water, you need to check all of your system’s valves. The number and configuration may vary, so if you’re not sure how many valves you have or where they’re located, consider consulting a professional for this step.
You probably left most valves open for the winter to prevent water from freezing inside your system. For now, you’ll want to close every valve except for the one farthest away from the water source. Leave this one open so that air can escape as you flood your pipes.
Let It Flow
With the farthest-away valve open, slowly open the main shut-off valve to your sprinkler system, stopping about halfway. It’s important to flood the system slowly to avoid a surge of water that could damage sprinkler heads, fracture pipes or cause other problems.
Go back to the open valve at the end of the line and close it. On your way back to the main valve, check all the sprinkler heads, backflow valves, hose bibs and other components for any signs of leaking. If you spot trouble, shut off the water at the main valve and call a plumber for assistance.
If everything looks good, slowly open the main valve all the way and perform one final check for leaks. Finally, turn on the system for the first watering of the season, taking care to watch the entire cycle for signs that adjustment or repair is needed.
And if problems arise, you know who to call: your licensed, local plumbers.