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Automatic drains & cold snaps

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Dirt Boy, Aug 24, 2006.

  1. Dirt Boy

    Dirt Boy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 489

    Should you install an automatic drain on the valve manifolds? And can you depend on this for "winterization"?

    I put automatic drains on all the lateral lines, but should you also install one on the valve manifold itself?
    Also along with this, can you depend on these drains for winterizing a system; I tell my customers to shut water supply off, drain line (PVB valve), and cycle controller thru cycle.

    Also, since I'm asking questions :rolleyes: What all should you do, or tell your customers to do, when you get a cold snap? Around here, it's common to have a spell (1 day to 4 -5 days) when temps drop at night, say to around 20 - 25 deg. and warm up in the day - mid 30's. After this it may warm up again for a while.

    Thanks a bunch, perhaps this has been answered before, but I didn't see anything.
  2. Hank Reardon

    Hank Reardon LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 599

    Those auto-drains are terrible. We've gone over this before here but basically, they fail and they waste water. Every time the zone fires it has to refill the lateral then drain it again. If your clients are paying for water, it wouldn't take too much math to figure how much they are wasting. So...install a quick couple on every system you put in, buy a big compressor, and do winterization the right way and the whole system can sit at 0 degrees all winter without a problem. Bam, you got another revenue stream to carry you through the off season.
  3. Desertdweller

    Desertdweller LawnSite Member
    Messages: 159

    We used to send out a mailing about the end of Sept telling the customer how to shut off the water in the basement and to run through the clock to release the pressure. Also sent them a diagram of a PVB and showed them where the test ports were so they could open them and to turn the shutoff valves half closed. If you give them the info and they still let it freeze then you're off the hook.

    We also did away with the auto drains. Had to many go bad over the years. Worked Nebraska for years. Don't have that problem in the desert.
  4. SprinklerGuy

    SprinklerGuy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

  5. Desertdweller

    Desertdweller LawnSite Member
    Messages: 159

  6. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    I have not run into anyone in this area who has not had their irrigation systems blown out because of having automatic drains – though those are seldom seen.

    I’ve only run into one system that I really felt comfortable not blowing out. It was an install that I put in where the entire system was on a slope and designed not to have any level lines. All the zones drained down to manual valves. Even so, I did have a connect point for a compressor, though the owners never opted to go that route.

    Even in the summer our nights can get down to below freezing, as it did last night, but most people don’t get antsy about things until mid October.
  7. Mjtrole

    Mjtrole LawnSite Member
    Messages: 226

    I cannot believe they still sell drain valves !! They are the worst, customers that have them tend to forget they have to drain the backflows and after a few years they stick and create leaks and a big mess, plus if you install them you can't winterize a customer which is where a lot of profit comes from in our area.
  8. Dirt Boy

    Dirt Boy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 489

    Thanks, the drains I'm talking about, are the ones which open up when pressure drops below a certain level. But, nonetheless, it's sounds like the consensus is that you shouldn't even install them, and if you do, you certainly should not depend on them for keeping a system from freezing.

  9. Mjtrole

    Mjtrole LawnSite Member
    Messages: 226

    We call them king drains because they were a fad for a couple of years and our supplier sold them and they were from the king company, same ones you are talking about. The only reason they should be installed is to irrigate an areas it would be imposible to winterize, we installed a court yard in a school that had 80 porn pops and had to be a self draining system because you would need about 500ft of hose to reach a compressor.

    The installation was horrible everything had to be open trenched and we had 8 stations/zones and we installed about 20 drains with a pea gravel base per specs. if a customer asks for them so they can save on winterizations just remind them that the are actually wasting money because everytime a station shuts off it needs to refill the next day to run and the price increase for such an installation would increase enough to pay for 10 winterizations.
  10. SprinklerGuy

    SprinklerGuy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    I use them on my manifolds now instead of a manual drain.....I don't have any that have been in the ground longer than 2 years so I cannot really say how well they are doing....

    I decided to start using them because many of my clients turn their systems on and off all year long.....and it seemed like the easiest way to prevent heavy digging on my part....

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