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How to Protect a Sprinkler System for a Sudden Freeze – Organo Lawn


I am Brad Wolfe with Organo-Lawn and today
we are going to do a video on how to protect the external parts of your sprinkler system
in case of a sudden freeze. There are four main steps on how to protect
the sprinkler system and this should take no longer than five or six minutes. Step one we need to turn off the water to
the sprinkler system. Step two go outside to the vacuum breaker
and open the test cocks and set the ball valves to a 45 degree angle. Step three, open the valve box drain or open
a valve. Step 4, go downstairs and open the drain nipple
to drain the water from the basement pipe. So now we are going to head downstairs to
do step one of the process. The first thing we need to do to drain the
basement pipe is to find where the water shutoff is to the sprinkler system. And it is typically in the basement or the
crawl space, but if you are not sure the best way to figure out where the shutoff is, is
by finding the back flow preventer or vacuum breaker and trace the pipes backwards. Then it is typically a gate valve or in this
case it is a ball valve. To shut off a ball valve you can turn it perpendicular
to the pipe. A good hit to figure out which valve is the
proper shutoff valve for the sprinkler system is to actually look for a drain nipple or
a drain valve between the shutoff valve and the back flow preventer. I am going to show you quickly the inner workings
of a ball valve so you can understand how it works. So it is currently perpendicular, which is
closed. And then as I turn the lever parallel it opens
and as you can see there is a ball inside of it that opens and closes. Here is the inner workings of gate valve and
as you can see as I turn the valve clockwise the gate comes down and closes and as I turn
it counter clockwise the gate comes up and opens. It is very important, especially as these
get older, you might get some hard water deposits on the valve it self. So it is important when you close it that
you really crank very hard on it to make sure it is 100% closed. Now that the water has been turned off, we
are going to go outside and we are going to open a pet cock valve. In doing that, this will allow air into the
system which will release it and therefore we can drain the this little valve. Now that we have turned off the water in the
basement, we head outside and we need to find this little apparatus here, this is called
the back flow preventer or the vacuum breaker. I am just going to quickly familiarize you
with all the little moving parts of this apparatus here. These here are called a ball valve, so currently
they are open, because they are parallel with the pipe. That would be closed. These guys right here are called test cocks
or pet cocks. They are basically mini- ball valves and they
are currently closed. If you decide to drain the basement pipe before
we blowout the sprinkler system you will find your back flow preventer in this state with
the ball valves currently open. All you need to do is come out here and open
up one of these test cocks. Some water will come out and you will see
that it stops and what that does is it opens airflow into the pipe. It is very important that if you find that
this ball valve is closed at a 90 degree angle when you come out to open the test cocks that
you do remember to open this to a 45 degree angle or parallel. That will then allow airflow into the pipe. If your test cocks have plastic caps on the
end of them these actually don’t really do anything and you do need to remove them to
get airflow into the system. Not every system has an external drain but
this one does and if it does have an external drain we do recommend leaving it open for
the winter. We do recommend leaving the test cocks open
for the winter and the reason being is if someone accidentally turns on the water to
the sprinkler system or if the valve doesn’t shut properly and a little drop of water goes
by every 10 minutes. It will eventually fill this pipe with water. Instead of going into the sprinkler system
and causing more damage it will just come out of the test cock and the only part of
the sprinkler system that can have potential breakage would be this portion right here,
versus the entire system. In case of a sudden freeze if you drain the
basement pipe what we have done is we have gotten the water from here down into the house
out of the pipe but we also need to get the rest of the water in the sprinkler system
out, which is from the vacuum breaker forward. To do that what you need to do is make sure
the pet cock is cracked open and then you go find a valve box and there should be a
drain in here and we will open that drain to drain out the water. If you open a valve box, typically what you
will find at the end of the valve is a valve drain, which is this guy right here. If you open this, water should start to come
out of the valve drain. If you cannot find your valve box or your
valve box does not have a drain like this you can also open a valve manually and this
will allow airflow into the system. Or if you don’t want to open a valve manually
you can also just run your clock on a manual cycle and that will open the valves via the
clock. Now that we have set our ball valves to a
45 degree angle and we have opened our test cocks to allow airflow into the pipe we are
going to head downstairs to drain the rest of the water out of the pipe. Now we are back downstairs in the basement
and our final step is that we need to drain the drain nipple. That is typically right next to the shutoff
valve or between the valve and the back flow preventer. All I am going to do is take my bucket and
I am going to open up the drain nipple. As you can see water is going to come out
and I am just going to hang here until all the water is drained. If it is a really long pipe that might take
a few minutes. If it is a short pipe like this one it goes
pretty quick. Now that the drain nipple is done draining
all I need to do is tighten the drain nipple and that is the end of draining the basement
pipe. If you follow the steps that we have listed
out in this video, you should be able to protect your back flow preventer and the pipes that
are outside in case of a sudden freeze. To watch more videos one sprinkler systems
or how to properly water a lawn, please visit organolawn.com.

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