4 Frequently Asked Questions About Winterizing Irrigation Systems on Commercial Properties

Posted by Joseph Barnes on Sep 30, 2021 12:39:42 PM

Your irrigation system is a valuable investment and you want to keep it in top-working order. After all, nothing is more essential to your turf and your landscape than water. Without proper irrigation, your property will never see its full potential.

Of course, along with an irrigation system comes the need to winterize it if you live in a climate that experiences freezing temperatures. Whether you’re new to having an irrigation system, you feel you’ve never got the best advice, or maybe you’re worried about changing weather patterns, we want to answer some of your most common questions about winterizing irrigation systems on commercial properties.

Ultimately, it will take informed and smart choices that will set you up for success.

1. Why Should I Consider Shutting Down the Irrigation System for Winter?

The main reason why winterizing irrigation systems is important is that it prevents damage. Freezing temperatures can wreak serious havoc on an irrigation system. That’s because when the water freezes, it expands, and this expansion can cause fittings, pumps, pipes, and sprinklers to break.

commercial landscaping company winterizes irrigation system

It can be a big deal when an irrigation part breaks, particularly when it’s an expensive part. Costs can really vary based on the system but many commercial properties just don’t want to take the risk. The last thing they want is costly repairs on their hands or any time period in which their system is “down” during the growing season due to winter breakage.

Draining the system of all of the water and blowing out the lines is the only way to ensure that this damage from freezing will not occur.

2. What Parts of the Country Need to Winterize the Irrigation System?

Of course, there are plenty of commercial properties based in temperate climates where winterizing irrigation systems is never done. At least, that used to be the case.

But the truth is, the effects of climate change are now impacting parts of the country in which we never previously saw freezing temperatures occur. This has led to some confusion as to whether winterization is something to be considered even when it wasn’t previously done.

It used to be that winterization was something mostly our northern clients did, but now that seems to be extending farther south each year.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer here.

There is no “magic line” or concrete answer as to where the geographic cut-off should be for shutting down an irrigation system. It used to be that the Atlanta, Georgia area and northward were the locations that were definitely shutting down an irrigation system. But we’re seeing it become more common in lower regions now, too.

Here’s the best tip we can offer: Anywhere that could experience sustained periods below freezing should consider irrigation system winterization.

If you have any uncertainty, it’s worth a conversation with your irrigation professional about their recommendations.

3. What Factors Should Be Weighed when Deciding about Shutting Down an Irrigation System for Winter

The number one factor is your weather. As we stated above, if you are located in an area where the ground could be frozen for sustained periods of time, then winterization is an absolute must. You simply do not want to risk that a part could be damaged due to freezing water.

commercial landscaping company repairs broken irrigation line

But we realize the weather has been more difficult lately and unexpected regions are experiencing freezes.

At the end of the day, it’s really about risk. You have to weigh the risk involved in choosing not to winterize. Here are a few things to consider as you do that.

  • Some of the parts that make up an irrigation system can cost a lot of money. If you have an irrigation system with costly parts, it might not be worth any risk of damaging them.
  • Availability is also a key factor. Finding replacement parts can be burdensome, particularly if it’s an older system.
  • You’ll also want to factor in the size of the system. If it’s a really large and expansive irrigation system and there is more that can break, it might not be worth assuming any risk.
  • How old the system is should also come into play. A general rule is that the older your system is, the more likely it will be that you want to winterize it—mostly because finding replacement parts for old systems can be difficult and costly. But also because aged systems are just more likely to experience problems. The pipes are older, they’ve been through more winters, and they’re more prone to issues.

It’s a lot to consider. Obviously, we have plenty of clients, like those in South Florida, where the weather is nice year-round and the grass is actively growing. In these cases, you would not ever be thinking about winterizing the irrigation system.

But we’re finding in so many parts of the country it’s becoming less cut-and-dry and just not something that commercial property managers are willing to take chances on. For some of the considerations mentioned above, they’re just choosing to go the path of winterizing the irrigation system.

4. Could We Just Winterize our Irrigation System on Our Own?

At a first glance, shutting down the irrigation system might not seem like something that is overly difficult. For that reason, you might be wondering if it’s something you can handle on your own.

irrigation crew member repairs broken irrigation system

But some systems require specialized licensing to operate and manage and others require large air compressors to fully evacuate water from the system. Leaving even a little bit of water in the system in some climates can be a recipe for disaster with costly repairs in the spring.

Leave Irrigation Winterization in the Hands of a Pro for Peace of Mind and the Best Results

Based upon some of the points made here in this article, if you determine that you are a commercial property that wants to pursue winterizing the irrigation system, we would definitely advise having a professional handle this service for you. Responsible property management means that you want to make sure it’s done properly. As we stated at the start, an irrigation system is incredibly valuable and you want to do what you can to protect it.

The last thing that you want is to see it get damaged due to freezing temperatures OR because a winterization mistake was made.

The truth is, commercial irrigation systems are sophisticated technology and require specialized certifications to install, operate, and winterize, too. That’s why it’s so important that you’re working with an irrigation professional that you trust. At the end of the day, the ongoing care and maintenance of your system (including winterization) is a protection of your investment in your property.

Are you ready to feel confident in making a wise choice for commercial property landscaping? Request a consultation today. We’ll meet to learn more about your property and its challenges and come up with a comprehensive plan to take care of all of the details for you.

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Joseph Barnes

About The Author

Joseph Barnes

Joseph Barnes has served as Marketing Manager of Yellowstone Landscape since 2013. He writes on a variety of topics related to the commercial landscaping industry.