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4 easy ways to protect your sprinklers from the freeze before they have been blown out in Bend, Oregon.

Every year we get that early cold snap that has many people worried that their systems are going to break and spill water everywhere.  The temperatures dip into the 20's or 10's at night or you see your lawn covered in ice when you wake up. Here a couple of pre-winterizing techniques to keep your system for freezing.
  • Step #1:  Do nothing.
    • The ground is a great insulator for your irrigation system.  While the air above is cold, the ground is nice and warm.  The ground will take a long time to freeze and this usually happens in late Winter when we never reach above freezing temperatures.
  • Step #2: Adjust your start times
    • During the summer we water early due to potential evaporation issues and water window restrictions from your water district.  With colder temperatures it is recommended that you push your start times to later in the morning to minimize any freezing hazards (ie. frozen walkways and sidewalks).  
  • Step #3: Cover exposed irrigation
    • Many homes have irrigation hose faucets or irrigation heads that are on risers to reach over the shrubbery or other obstacles.  These need to be covered or wrapped with an insulator of some sort to keep the cold air off of them.  Remember, they aren't buried in the ground.  
    • Drip is very resilient in withstanding the cold if it is on the surface because of how pliable the material is.  So Drip freezing for short periods typically doesn't cause much damage.
  • Step #4: Make sure valve box are covered with lids
    • In order to keep the warm earth air in our boxes, we need to keep those lids on.  The worst thing you can do is open a valve box during the winter and release the warm air.  Insulation is also great. but only necessary in the backflow box (the big metal thingy in the ground).  Putting a layer of insulation on top of your backflow is all that should be needed assuming your box is completely buried (remember warm ground).  
Now you know what to do in the event that your system hasn't been winterized before your sprinklers have been shut down.
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