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Oregon question

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by DanaMac, Sep 23, 2007.

  1. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,156

    Question for the Oregon guys. My sister-in-law is here, and asking a few questions. She lives in Eugene, OR and bought a house recently that has a system in place. I don't know how good it is, but it sounds like a home owner install. But the main question is what about shutting down and winterizing? Does it get cold enough that it needs blowing out? Or just shut down and drain?
  2. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,308

  3. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,496

    The Willamette Valley is generally a banana belt during the winter. Sure... it can get cold and foggy... but not like one might think. Her best bet would be to check with neighbors and local nurseries who would most likely give her the info she'd need.
  4. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,976

    It does freeze in Eugene.
  5. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,156

    Yes, but does it freeze enough, and give a frost line that the system requires blowing out?
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    Now that all the others (who don't live here) have chimed in, I'll go ahead and take a shot at answering that question. :D

    First off, yes we winterize here. When I say we, I mean anyone who is smart and anyone who knows irrigation well. Most homeowners who don't have a landscape service do not winterize, however. Or there idea of winterizing is to turn off pressure to the system via the main gate valve. But yes, it's important to winterize. It does freeze here (albeit for short durations usually) and LOTS of damage happens to irrigation systems here each winter from people who don't winterize properly. So much so that our irrigation tech. spends most of his time in April, May, and June fixing all the breaks that occurred over the winter.

    That being said, how well you can winterize depends on how smart the system was installed to begin with. Almost every contractor in the willamette valley would install a system with a shut off valve, followed by a DCVA (which has to be installed 2' deep by code) followed by a drain valve. When they are installed that way, they are easy to drain and winterize. Since we don't get long, deep freezes in this part of Oregon (including Eugene), we don't have to blow out the systems with compressed air. But we do have to drain them as best as possible. So we will usually take the following steps;

    1) Turn off main gate valve
    2) Open electronic valves (or valve stems) manually, so valves are open and laterals can drain
    3) Open up drain valve
    4) If there are any zones on the system where the piping is lower in elevation than the 2' deep DCVA is, then you remove the lowest head or nozzle on that zone and allow that zone to drain too.
    5) Open up all of the test **** valves on the DCVA. This helps drain some of the water stuck in the DCVA and also gives water a place to expand in case of freezing.

    So if the system has a DCVA, then she would want to take the above steps. That would protect her in 98% of the winters we get here. If she really wants to go the extra mile, she could get it blown out with compressed air too. But honestly, almost nobody does that in this part of Oregon. It's overkill.

    The problem arises if there is some other kind of backflow device other than a DCVA. Suppose there are a series of above-ground AVBs. That's somewhat common on homeowner-installed jobs. I can always tell when a homeowner installed an irrigation system around here because there are a series of above-ground AVBs up next to the house. No contractor worth his salt would do that around here because those are next to impossible to winterize. Legally, you can't install a drain between the POC and the backflow device. That would be a cross connection. And there are no cross connections allowed before the backflow device. So there is no way to relieve the water trapped between the POC and the AVB. You could install a drain valve on after the AVB but that does nothing for the water that's going to freeze on the other side. And 99% of the time, there are no drains at all installed on those homeowner jobs. So you're essentially left with no good way to winterize, save taking apart the pipe and re-glueing.

    So if she has that sort of system, she's kind of screwed. It will break during the winter - guaranteed. It may not be this winter. It could be 2 or 3 years from now before we get a storm cold enough to break it. But when we do, all or most of those AVBs will break. And I love it when we get one of those storms, because that's just money in the bank for us! payup payup payup

    I was even on the local news for 30 seconds last February for this very issue. We had a deep freeze for several days in a row and the news station was doing a story on furnaces and sprinkler systems that were going out all over the valley. They found me out responding to an urgent call. This lady moved into a house with some AVBs and hadn't done any winterizing at all. And so when she was gone at work, her AVBs broke and the valves opened. Well, that turned on her system and it kept running all day until there was ice all over every plant, the entire lawn, every sidewalk, down her driveway, and about 100' down the street. A neighbor finally turned off her water to her house and I came over and finally found the shut-off valve buried under 6" of rock hard barkmulch and was finally able to turn off her system. And aside from the $700 bill she paid is later in April to fix the problem, she also had a $95 emergency fee and a pretty large water bill that month. So yah, it happens all the time when people don't winterize here.

    Hope that answers your questions. We will be doing a good 250-300 winterizations this year. And I've been doing them for a while. So I have a decent amount of experience with this issue here in this area. Let me know if you have any more Q's.
  7. I live in Texas and will add nothing to what Jim says.
  8. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 47,686

    (I still want to know how the no-upstream-drain dealie works when every BP assembly has an upstream testcock)
  9. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,156

    Jim - thank you very much for the informative reply. I pretty much told her that I felt it was ok to shut down and drain properly without the blow out by compressor. BUT, since I can't see the system I don't know how well it was installed or what steps to take to drain her system properly. I thin they will figure it out though. Thanks again.
  10. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,156

    Yeah, I don't understand this thought either. Needs a drain in between to prevent freeze damage. But there is minimal inspecting here and our rules don't follow Oregon's or any other state's. To each his own I guess.

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