Emergency Sprinkler System Shutdown Instructions

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EMERGENCY Sprinkler System Shutdown Instructions: Here’s How To Protect Your Pipes

 We all know that weather can change dramatically within hours. If we haven’t gotten out to professionally shutdown and winterize your system and a sudden freeze threatens, here’s how you can protect your pipes until we can get out to your home.

Here are two helpful, how-to videos that show you:

  • How to find the shut-off valve for your sprinkler system
  • How to shutdown your sprinkler system until we can get out to your home to do a thorough Winterization.

PLUS, featured on this page are step-by-step instructions that you can print out and follow. Simply click on the icon or PRINT from your browser menu.

Remember these are temporary measures only.

In our climate, a professional Shutdown & Winterization with an air compressor is critical. Otherwise, your pipes can freeze, break and cause costly problems.

How to find the shut-off valve for your sprinkler system

TEMPORARY emergency shutdown of your sprinkler system

STEP 1:  Shut off the water to your sprinkler system.

The shutoff valve is often located in the basement, a utility room or closet. Most shutoff valves are ball valves that have a handle. If the handle is running with the pipe, the water is turned on to the system. To shut the water off, turn the handle 90 degrees until it stops. Typically, the handle has a “stopper” so that you cannot turn it too far.

CAUTION! You do not want to shut off the water to your whole house…only your sprinkler system. If you’re confused as to which valve is the right one to use, watch the “How to Find Your Sprinkler System Shut-off Valve” video on the Emergency Shutdown Instructions page on our website or call us at 402-672-9297.

STEP 2: Locate the backflow preventer.

This will be on the outside of your house. The device is small and made of metal. A pipe runs from the house into the backflow preventer and another pipe runs out the backflow preventer and into the ground.

STEP 3: Turn handles on the backflow preventer.

Turn the two valve handles about 45 degrees so that they are half open/half shut. You also will need to take a flat head screwdriver and open the two test ports on the side of the backflow device.

NOTE: If your test ports have caps (usually black plastic) remove the caps first before opening the ports.

STEP 4: Drain water from your system.

f you have an outside drain near the backflow preventer on the outside of your house, open it to drain the water. If there are no drains on the outside of your house, there is probably a drain near your shutoff valve inside your home. When opening the inside drain, have a bucket ready to catch the draining water.

NOTE: Most systems will have either a drain on the outside or one on the inside, some even have both. And remember, a “drain” can sometimes look like a faucet (see photo below).

STEP 5: Schedule Quality Irrigation to blow out your sprinkler lines.

If an unexpected freeze does happen, completing steps 1 – 4 is NOT a guarantee that your pipes won’t be damaged. However, doing the above steps will certainly improve the odds until we can get out to your home and remove the water from your lines with an air compressor.

To fully ensure your pipes won’t freeze during the winter, we will need to come to your property to blow out your lines. We will use an air compressor to blow the remaining water out of your lines and then shut down your controller. You should leave your drain open until the day we are scheduled to come out, but please close the drain prior to our arrival.

NOTE: A drain can look like a faucet, as pictured in the photo at below right.

STEP 6:  Open your drain.

Whether your drain is on the inside, outside or both locations, it needs to be opened back up after we’ve come out, and left open all winter. If you were unable to be home when Quality Irrigation blew out your lines and your drain is on the inside of your home, then you will need to complete this last step. If you were home, our technician will have completed this step for you.

STEP 7:  Monitor your inside drain.

Check your inside drain regularly to make sure it stops dripping. If it is still dripping a couple days after being opened, either the shutoff valve isn’t closed all the way or the shutoff valve is going bad and needs to be replaced by a plumber.