Predictable is not a word one would typically use to describe Portland’s weather. Even at its best, it’s not unusual to go from warm and sunny weather to cold and rainy in the span of a week. The unexpected amount of snow Portland saw this winter has left many scratching their heads and wondering, “Is winter finally over? And is it time to turn my sprinklers back on?” Here is a basic guideline for you to read through before you turn on your sprinkler system.
Don’t rush to turn on your sprinklers right after February! Although the worst of the winter cold is most likely over, you may still see unexpected freezing temperatures at night during the beginnings of spring. If there hasn’t been much rain or snow, water the spots of lawn that need it with a hose. Though this might seem like a lot of work, you’re actually protecting yourself from the risk of your underground sprinkler system freezing over. It is well worth putting in some effort to prevent costly repairs.
As it gets closer to spring, make sure you are keeping track of temperatures, especially at night! If the temperature consistently exceeds 32 degrees Fahrenheit, your sprinkler system can be safely turned back on without the risk of the waterlines freezing. It is critical to keep monitoring weather reports during this time in case of an unexpectedly cold night. Should that be the case, be sure to drain your system again and insulate your backflow preventer. Insulation is paramount because it keeps the ambient air from reaching the water in your pipes. It doesn’t take long for 32 degree weather to freeze your system and crack the poppet and bonnet kit, so don’t skip this step!
Finally, the easiest and best rule of thumb you can use to decide when to turn your system back on is just by looking at your lawn! Spring is often a very rainy season in Portland, so your lawn might not need to be watered much even as it slowly gets warmer. If that is the case, you might want to consider waiting until the weather turns drier before turning back on your system. Save money on your water bill and let Mother Nature do the work for you.
If you follow these simple guidelines at the end of every winter, you can protect your sprinkler system from freezing, prevent costly repairs, and save some money!