How to Protect Your Sprinkler System During a Freeze Warning

Your app-enabled smart sprinkler or a weather app may have notified you that a freeze event is forecasted – what do you need to do? If your sprinkler is not yet winterized and you received a freeze warning notification, then follow our instructions to protect your above-ground irrigation piping.

This Freeze Warning Notification came from a customer’s app-enabled, smart device compatible sprinkler controller.

When air temperatures dip below freezing but not low enough for ice to form below ground or in standing water, the underground components of your irrigation system will be perfectly fine overnight. The above-ground elements of your sprinkler system do require protection. Cover above-ground sprinkler piping to prevent any water inside from freezing. Most backflow devices are located outdoors; take care to insulate yours overnight during a freeze warning. Wrap a blanket or heavy towel around the backflow device to keep it protected from freeze damage. Note that once Hydro-Tech winterizes your sprinkler system and the technician removes the backflow device, it should be kept inside in a warm location (not a garage or unheated space) over the winter.

If you’re highly concerned about below-ground irrigation system damage during a freeze warning, then you can turn off the water supply to your sprinkler system before briefly manually running the system to evacuate most of the water from it. Then, power down the controller as well overnight. In most cases, these are unnecessary actions, since temperatures will not be low enough for ice to form in below-ground components. You may also have recently seeded your lawn and want to continue watering after the immediate temperature dip.

The backflow device in this image is turned on, indicated by the valve handles running parallel to the pipes.
In this image, the backflow device is turned off. Turn your valve handles perpendicular to the pipes in order to shut off the backflow device.

Understanding the Difference Between a Frost Advisory, Freeze Warning and a Hard Freeze

Frost Advisory: A frost warning occurs when temperatures dip low enough for dew to freeze for two hours or more.

Freeze Warning: The National Weather Service issues a freeze warning when temperatures drop below freezing for longer than two hours. Cover above-ground piping and insulate your backflow controller.

Hard Freeze: Note that hard freezes rarely occur in the Northern Virginia region until well after Thanksgiving, and by that time, your system should be fully winterized. When a hard freeze is expected, temperatures are predicted to dip below 28 degrees for two hours or more, long enough for ice to form in the ground and standing water. Always winterize your sprinkler system before a hard freeze in order to prevent damage and maintain your warranty.

If you have questions about your sprinkler system or wish to schedule your winterization service, fill out the form our contact page here and our customer service team will be happy to assist you..

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