Winterize your Outside Faucets and Irrigation Systems Now

Posted on Friday, October 17th, 2014 at 12:05pm.

Although the weather outside isn’t frightful – yet – it soon will be. Are you ready for another Minnesota winter? More important, is your Blaine home ready?

It’s a bit hard to think about frigid weather when, as I write this the sun is peeking in and out from behind a light cloud cover and we’re heading for a high of 55 degrees -- 66 degrees on Sunday. But I get that it’s important to plan ahead and take precautions against what the weather has in store for us all too soon.

Winterize Outdoor Faucets

1. Disconnect the hose and splitters from the faucet. These act as water traps and cause the fixture to freeze. Even one freeze can cause a pipe to break so it’s important to get this done early. Make sure you drain all the water from the hoses and then store them in the garage over the winter to keep them from becoming brittle.

2. Check your hose bibs (plumber’s word for faucet) for leaks. Look closely around the handle and the spout for seeping or dripping water. If it leaks, you can either fix it yourself or call a plumber. The former is, of course, less expensive and it’s not that difficult to do.

You’ll need to figure out where the leak is coming from, For instance, if it’s leaking around the handle you may just need to tighten the nut or replace the washer behind it. Once you know where the leak is your friendly neighborhood plumbing specialist at the local big box home improvement store in Blaine can walk you through the fix.

3. Drain the water from the pipes. First, shut off the water in the line to the faucet and then turn on the faucet to drain the water.

If you cannot isolate the water supply to hose bib to shut it off be sure to use extra insulation in the next step. It’s not always possible to isolate an individual line, so you’ll need to follow the next step to protect the faucet.

4. Use a hose bib cover to protect the faucet over the winter. You can buy these at Home Depot, Lowes and I think Frattallone’s carries them too.

Winterize Irrigation Lines

PVC pipes have a tendency to crack and break when they freeze so it’s important to blow out your irrigation lines before the first freeze. It’s not hard to do but you’ll need some tools, a 100 psi air compressor and eye protection. Don’t neglect the latter – using compressed air can be dangerous.

1. Shut off water to the system. Again, it may be challenging to find the line that feeds the system so you may need to call a plumber.

2. Look for the release valve and use a screwdriver to open it. This lets air into the irrigation system.

3. Remove flow sensors, if you have them, before pushing air into the lines.

4. Connect the air compressor to the release valve furthest away from you and feed air into it. Wait for it to push all of the water out of the sprinklers. It should take no longer than two minutes. Close the valve and move to the next one (you’ll want to move from furthest to closest). Close each valve as that section is finished before opening the next one.  

5. If your backflow system has ball valves, allow them to remain about half-open so that any leftover water to get out in a freeze.

6. Open the release valves at the lower end of the lines to release any water that may still be trapped.


Hunter Industries provides homeowners with the following warnings:

  • Aside from the eye protection (don’t skip this step), keep the air pressure below 80 psi if you have PVC pipes and below 50 if the pipes are made of polyethylene.
  • Do not stand over component parts while the system is pressurized with air.
  • Do not blow the system out through a backflow or pump. First blow out the system, then drain the backflow or pump.
  • Do not leave the manual drain valves open after the blow out.

For best results in winterizing your irrigation system call a Blaine lawn care company.

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