When near-freezing temperatures are looming it’s time to address what you will need to do to winterize your rainwater, greywater and irrigation systems.
You will need to watch the weather and take steps to protect your system when freezing temperatures are expected. You can set up alerts on weather.com that will send you a text or an email when freezing temperatures loom.
As with all other outdoor plumbing, you will want to wrap exposed pipes and spigots. Large, exposed conveyance pipes (4-6″) often drain to the tank and are generally empty except in a rain and, therefore, don’t need wrapping. If you have a cleanout, you can check it by opening it up to drain these pipes. Make sure the insulation on your RPZ valve is in good condition as well. The center valve of the RPZ will need wrapping in an extended period of cold temperatures but unwrapped again once it warms up.
Pumps that have water in them can freeze and burst: yikes! The most effective way to protect your pump is to put a space heater in your pump house. Small ones are available at Home Depot for $20. A thermostat timer can automate a heater as well. You may also consider a heat strip, a thermal blanket or a heat lamp. All pump houses have an electrical outlet for this purpose, among others.
Or you can turn off your pump and drain it. All pumps have a drain valve. If your user manual does not reveal it’s location, give us a call. Keep in mind, pumps that are drained will need priming to restart.
If you have a submerged pump, no worries. The tank itself will insulate the pump as long as there is water in it. Greywater pumps are least worrisome because of frequent flow into the tank.
Many people with established xeric landscapes simply turn their irrigation systems off November through March. Plant demand is lower and this will allow you to save up rain collected for the spring. If you opt for this approach, pipes and tubes can be drained to help protect them. If we installed your irrigation system, pipes and tubing are buried deep enough that they should be protected in our climate without having to drain them, however.
We can drain irrigation lines and pumps for you with a service call. If you are on a quarterly maintenance plan with us, this can be part of the December visit. If you are in your first year of service we will work with you to develop specific winterization recommendations.