Before the hard frosts and snow returns to Calgary, if you have a built in underground sprinkler system, it’s time to do one last operational check before draining for winter.
Mirage Landscaping is a full-service landscaping design, construction, and maintenance firm for both commercial and residential clients.
Sprinkler maintenance is just one step in getting a property ready for winter.
A compressed air blowout of your irrigation system over simply opening the drain valve and letting the residual water passively flow out is absolutely essential. When you have your underground irrigation system blown out with compressed air you know that there is no water remaining in the system that can freeze and either crack a pipe or form an ice blockage that can damage the system when it is started for the first time come spring.
All sprinkler systems should have their feed pipes buried low enough in your lawn to be deeper than the average expected frost line depth. The problem is that here in Calgary, we have some highly unusual winters from time to time. When a polar inversion dips out of the north and settles over the region, your sprinkler system can’t be too deep if there is a chance it still has undrained water in it. If you’ve had a professional blowing out, you have nothing to worry about no matter how cold it gets. Contact us for a free quote on this preventative maintenance.
Even if you opt only to drain your system, now is also the time to give it a last operational inspection. This step is important before winter for two reasons: First, it gives you the opportunity to identify easily correctable problems now, when the ground is relatively dry and the digging is easy. Second, everyone wants all manner of work done in the spring, so we might have limited availability for repair work, or the parts for your system might face supply and demand problems as spring and early summer are installation season for new underground systems ahead of the heat of high summer.
In any event, take a moment and observe your system working under its normal water delivery load. Are all of the heads popping up? Are the sprinkler heads still delivering in the pattern and quantity that you wanted? Are there any spongy areas of your lawn that might indicate a cracked pipe or a leaking junction? If you have any problems like these, the fixes are usually straightforward, but leakage or valve control issues usually require expert attention for best results. Again, contact us for a free quote regarding any repairs.
Once you have determined that your sprinkler system is operating to your satisfaction, and before you drain it and shut it down for the winter, consult your sprinkler map and ensure it matches up to what you are seeing. If you don’t have a sprinkler map, now is the time to make one.
Make your sprinkler map on graphing paper so that you have a sense of scale to work with. Sketch your buildings, complete with any driveways, walks, or patios that don’t ever need watering. Then, not only should you map out where your sprinkler heads appear in your lawn and other plantings, make some pencil sketches of the pattern and distance that sprinkler head throws water. If you know your system’s zones, mark them out in different coloured pencils so that you can identify them for future troubleshooting. Finally, if you are really ambitious, get a rain gauge out there during your last watering to measure if you throwing out too much water. It could be that you can save water be lowering the run time. Record this data on your map.
Such a map is not just for you, it’s for people like us when we come to service your system or when we come to perform fall maintenance for you. We like to know where the sprinkler heads are during aerating, power raking, mowing, and even later for snow removal. Sprinkler heads are notorious for trapping dirt and small rocks, subsequently not recessing as they should. No one ever wants to decapitate a sprinkler riser while mowing, or pound it into the ground by accidentally running it over during a plow of your driveway. A sprinkler map goes a long way towards helping us help you to keep your system running and free from damage.