Texas is known for its warm weather, but when the winter season comes around, the temperature can drop to freezing levels, particularly during the night. Unfortunately, many homeowners in Texas are caught off guard when a freeze like this hits, especially since it doesn’t happen often. Reports of damage to sprinkler systems after this recent freeze in Texas are a cause for concern.
We have written a number of articles about protecting your sprinkler system against freezing temperatures over the past many years, but here is more detail about what occurs and why it is important to predict a freeze and take steps to protect against it.
Vulnerable Sprinkler System Parts
If not properly drained and shut off during winter, water inside the system may have froze due to the cold temperatures, in combination with a lack of heat and insulation around outdoor faucets and pipes. Damage can occur to the system due to the expansion that results from freezing water. Frozen plastic and seals may also become extremely brittle and break.
As a result, your sprinkler system’s different parts, including sprinkler heads, underground plumbing, valves, nozzles, backflow prevention devices and manifolds, to name a few, may have developed cracks, ruptures and other types of breaks.
To do a thorough check for damage to the system, you might need to activate the system and then watch closely for points of leakage or pressure inconsistencies. It is unlikely that Texas will experience any more freezing temperatures past mid-February, so it’s generally considered a safe time to start doing these checks.
Unfortunately, many systems in Texas are not designed for easy drainage since water in the lines is so rarely an issue and because it is best to keep some irrigation operating even during the colder months to maintain a proper moisture level in the grass and garden and to keep the system lubricated.
How Do I Know If My Sprinkler System Has Been Damaged?
It can be difficult to properly determine the full extent of the damage without the proper know-how, tools and experience of an irrigation specialist.
Since the majority of your sprinkler system is underground, a visual examination alone won’t disclose all of the potential damage. Moreover, some cracks may be too small to be seen. It might not be obvious if the system was damaged until you turn it on and use it a few times.
Irregular spray patterns, wet spots, apparent low pressure throughout or in one or more zones are all indications that damage to pipes, spray heads, or valves has occurred.
Repairs could be as simple as replacing a nozzle or may require digging to locate a cracked pipe to repair it.
We highly recommend that you test your sprinkler for damage sooner than later. You want to maintain proper moisture levels in the ground between now and the spring, and you want your sprinkler system to run properly as soon as it is needed regularly.
Doing any needed repairs may take time, whether you do them yourself or call a professional. Parts may need to be ordered or worse, you might fix one area only to learn that there is more damage further down the line.
Winter might also bring tree damage. Below-freezing temperatures have the potential to seriously harm or even kill some Texas trees since they are not adapted to such cold conditions. This can lead to branches or even entire trees falling in your yard and causing damage to the sprinkler system. You should investigate potential damage to your sprinklers wherever trees or their branches may have fallen during the cold season.
If you have had to remove a dead tree, then you will need to cap any tree bubblers ‒ which are irrigation heads designed to bubble over and keep the ground above the tree roots adequately watered ‒ since they won’t be needed any more. Also, if you had to grind out any tree stumps, then it is quite possible that nearby irrigation pipes were damaged in the process and should be repaired.
Ask The Pros!
If all of this information seems like a lot of effort and you’re worried about doing it correctly, contact an irrigation consultant, like Smart Earth Sprinklers, to ensure that a proper and thorough investigation of your sprinkler system is carried out and that thorough repairs are made.
It is highly recommend to get your system inspected prior to the spring rush when service providers, like us, are booked out weeks in advance. The team at Smart Earth Sprinklers are ready to help service you and get your system working!
Contact us today to book a consultation and make sure that your irrigation system can make a full recovery in time for summer! Proper sprinkler maintenance and expertly done sprinkler repairs are just a phone call away.