IMPORTANT!!! It is VERY important NOT to start up your irrigation system until the threat of freezing temperatures is not present. In Colorado this is typically the week after Mother’s Day.
We recommend that you check with a local and licensed irrigation contractor or local nursery for this information. We recommend that a licensed irrigation contractor be contracted to perform at MINIMUM the first winterization and spring start up on your irrigation system.
To start a sprinkler system after winterizing you must first know where the sprinkler system shut offs are. If you had an irrigation service company shut down, blow out, and drain the system sometimes it is easier just to call them back to turn it on. Many lawn service companies will even shut your sprinkler down for the winter and start it back up when the time comes. If you can find the main sprinkler shut off valve and have a key to turn it back on then you can turn it on yourself. Most of the time the shut off valve for the sprinkler line is in a long irrigation tube near the sprinkler control boxes.The most important thing when turning on a sprinkler system is to turn the water on slowly. You can cause a huge water hammer by turning the water on too quickly and this can burst fittings or pop off sprinkler heads. No matter which valve you are turning on make sure you open it slowly and give it time to pressurize before opening it all the way. The following steps will guide you through the process to start a sprinkler system after winterizing.
- To turn a sprinkler system on locate the sprinkler shut off valves. There are valves in the ground (in a green valve box) and an irrigation riser with back flow preventer above ground (the irrigation riser is the copper ‘tree’ that is installed on the exterior of the home).
- Turn on the valves. The stop and waste valve in the ground typically has a ‘knob’ that turns 90 degrees in a counter-clockwise direction to on. AND there is usually instructions that show you how to turn on and off. This type of valve will sometimes leak a little when first turned on but it should be only for a short time. Keep an eye on it and make sure the valve is not continually running.
Irrigation risers are usually turned on with two ball valves that are located on either side of the vacuum breaker valve. The ball valve in the parallel position means it is on while the perpendicular positions means it is off. A quarter turn is all that is needed to turn on a ball valve. Make sure it is turned on as slowly as possible.
- Time to check the individual sprinkler valves. It is a good idea to remove the sprinkler head at the end of each line before turning on the sprinkler valves. This way if anything is in the line it will get flushed out and it will also protect against any water hammer in case you turn the valve on too fast.By this time you will have water to the pressure side of the valve and you can turn the sprinklers valves on one by one to see if there are any leaks in the sprinkler lines themselves. Sprinklers can be turned on at the timer or by using the manual screw that most sprinkler valves have on the side. But you can turn the system on slower if you do it manually at the individual sprinkler valves.
- Take your time and go through each of the sprinkler stations because if a line is broken in the ground it may take some time to bubble up. Dig up and repair any leaks and replace sprinkler heads that are broken. Make any necessary adjustments to the spray pattern of the sprinkler heads. Let it run a bit and check the coverage. Some spray heads may have to be cleaned out or adjusted before working properly again.
- Set the timer. It’s a good idea to set the watering times when you can keep an eye on the watering especially in the beginning of the season to make sure everything is working properly.