With spring approaching, if you have an underground sprinkler system for your commercial or residential Calgary area property give us a call at Mirage Landscaping to give it a thorough systems check before you turn it on. You can add this request to our spring clean up service for you ultimate convenience. If you don’t have an irrigation system, we can install one for you, and you will save on costs by saving on water.
If you already have underground sprinklers and you didn’t take steps last autumn to ready your underground irrigation system for the winter, you may pay the price for that this spring if something goes wrong and you don’t have someone on hand to immediately fix it. Your system should have been drained of residual water last fall to prevent the freeze/thaw cycle from damaging your pipes or sprinkler heads. If this task was neglected, you could have all sorts of malfunctions this spring, ranging from burst pipe or sprinkler risers, ice blockages cutting off entire zones, or even micro cracking, that leads to turning part of your landscaping into a quagmire. In a worst case scenario, running your sprinkler system with this kind of damage could lead to a major flood.
DO NOT recharge, test, or otherwise use your sprinkler system until you are totally confident that our Calgary area hard freezes are done for the spring. You risk damaging your system or landscaping if you suffer a blowout. Not only that, you’ll be in the unenviable position of calling for repairs during the busiest part of the year for anyone with the capability of repairing your suddenly damaged system. Consider using a long screwdriver or other tool with about a foot of reach as a probe and make sure the ground is fully thawed to that depth before you ever reach for that main valve handle.
Once the freezing weather is gone again until fall, take the time to thoroughly inspect your irrigation system. However, DO NOT simply turn on the main water supply valve and see what happens. Have a professional, like ones from Mirage Landscaping, standing by with the right parts and expertise to diagnose and repair the system if something goes catastrophically wrong on its initial start-up. Your system has been down for the entirety of a tougher than usual winter. Even if you performed an adequate fall shutdown, and even if you did everything correctly, your system may still have not drained itself of every last bit of the water. You may also have damage to your pipes that you simply cannot see.
Prior to the first charging of the season you need to open your system’s air relief valves or open the drain valves, depending on the type of installation you have. Water re-entering the system will drive the air in the pipes ahead of it. Just like water, this air will follow the path of least resistance. This air pressure can build and travel rapidly, damaging both the risers and the plastic components of the sprinkler heads. If you don’t know of any air relief valves in your system, it is an excellent idea to remove the sprinkler heads at the highest spots in each zone to provide an easy exit for any air trapped in the system.
DO NOT just throw open the main valve and let the water fly into the system as rapidly as possible. Ease the valve open to minimize any air pressure effects, even if you think you have adequate air relief, why put it to the test unnecessarily? Ease that valve open.
ALSO DO NOT allow the timer to handle your first test of the season. It is a common temptation to see if the timer is working by letting it turn on the system. The problem is that the system will not be cautious. Most are ON/OFF and will not slowly fill your system zone by zone for you. There is no substitute for your being on hand to watch water gurgling out of the system and listening for continuing hisses that could indicate trouble, or looking for risers or sprinkler heads that don’t perform like they used to.
It is said that prevention is better than a cure, and this holds true for complicated underground sprinkler systems. Don’t take your chances, call Mirage Landscaping in Calgary for a free quote on a sprinkler inspection that could spare you a costly repair.