Questions on winterizations

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by AceSprinkleRx, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. AceSprinkleRx

    AceSprinkleRx LawnSite Member
    from Wyoming
    Messages: 95

    I've read the thread What type of compressor is everyone using 4 blowouts with great interest.

    My upcoming plans are to run an ad for winterizing in mid-september and rent an IR 185 for a week in mid-october. I've picked up a number of new accounts from a single classified ad which ran in our local paper and I'm thinking maybe 30+ blowouts would be a reasonable goal. I work a fulltime job which I'd like to get out of and into irrigation permanently in the next 16-24 mos.

    My questions are from the thread I linked to above...

    Everything I've read from and Green Industry mag says to only blowout one zone at a time. A few menton blowing out 6+ at a time. Is this the norm for most techs?

    There is also mention of using a 3/4" garden hose. Is this because it's easier to reach a blowout hookup and easier to pull around the home?

    At first I thought I'd need to stay at the controller and run the zones. But if I were to run more than 2 to 3 zones at once, why couldn't I open the bleeders or flow control valves at one valve box at a time with the compressor set to 45-50psi. Then when it blows free open the next box and then shut down the first box? Anyone blow out this way?

    And lastly, all my material says to not run air through a zone for more than a few minutes at a time. But it sopunds like many of you go for longer than that. Good? Bad?

    As may of you already know I'm learning as I go since I have no one to turn to close by for the tips/tricks and knowledge that comes with time.

    I've taken everything I've made and put it back into parts, supplies, advertising, etc and would like to make a grand or so winterizing to buy a dedicated laptop, QuickPro and maybe a 521. I ain't no "trunkslammer" either! I've also spent $7500 on a 2000 Sonoma 3 door pickup to use as a service truck along with an assortment of tools, diagnostic equipment and parts. So I now have more monthly bills by making truck payments along with the higher insurance payments. (I do have a commercial insurance policy as well with million dollar limits).

    Thanks for any advice.

  2. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,070

    Once you're in the phone book, you want to have your own compressor, because a winterizing call can come anytime. With a tow-behind, you should be all right using manual bleeders. That isn't always true of a smaller truck-mounted compressor with certain brands of valves, such as Toro, which will often stick open. Safer to work the controller on those. Depending on what you charge, the first year's winterizings will buy you a decent truck-mountable compressor. For residential systems you won't feel deprived not having more.

    Keep an eye on auctions for a bargain you can pick up locally.

    One reason to work the controller is that it will eliminate a callback because someone spazzed out and left a bleed screw open.

    A few rolls of very-highest-quality 3/4" ID garden hose wound on a yard cart (make it a motorized Hannay reel when you have the opportunity) will extend your reach, and serve as a bit more air reserve when using the smaller compressors.
  3. MikeK

    MikeK LawnSite Member
    Messages: 145

    I've also read all of the post's on winterizing. No offense, but I would not have many of the people that responded touch my system.
    Here is the correct way to winterize:

    1. You need 7 CFM of air for evern Gallon per minute the system puts out.
    Most home systems are 10 to 12 GPM, that means you need 70 to 84 CFM of air.

    2. Blow only 1 zone at a time, more zones open mean more air movement and it could create excessive heat through the system.

    3. Most manufacturere recommend no more than 60 PSi of air, we keep our compressors regulated at 40 PSI.

    4. Start with the zone furthest from the backflow and then go through each zone 3 times, you don't need to run them very long if you have the volume of air, just long enough for the heads to "spit" then go to the next.

    5. Use 1" hose, no garden hose.

    6. I 185 CFM compressor works pretty nice for the residential system. We own 1 and rent 3. For commercial systems we use a larger compressor or run 2 185 CFM compressors.

    We winterize 900 to 1000 systems a year and I have seen it all. I've had customers winterize their own systems and end up with a 600$ Bill in the spring. I know that many people use smaller compressors but sooner or later, you will get burned. If you are going to do this on the "side" Keep in mind that you will probably really piss off the guy that had that customer for the last several years, and keep in mind that you will have to stand by your work come spring.
  4. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,070

    The trouble with making an absolute statement about requiring a 185 cfm compressor is that someone who has been using a smaller truck mounted compressor for years without any problems, is going to know that your knowledge is less than absolute. Getting the water out is the task at hand, so -

    1. 7 cfm per zone gpm? What is this, a gallon to cubic foot conversion turned upside down? More air is always useful. But not mandatory.

    2. Blow only one zone at a time? The little compressors are with you on this one, and on larger compressors, it depends on how hot the compressed air happens to be. Maybe you want to equip those bad boys with an aftercooler.

    3. 60 psi tops is a good ceiling - about all I've seen damaged by it is home-center stuff, and they don't count.

    4. The zone order isn't any big deal, since the water isn't sneaking back from an un-winterized zone through a closed zone valve, although for a decentralized system, you wouldn't know for sure, unless you have the master valve manually opened. I try to winterize those starting from the zones at the highest elevation and work downhill, which usually is the same as the farthest distance on the main line. (it helps if the zones are numbered in preferred winterizing order)

    5. 1" hose only - no garden hose. Oh, sure. I'll just discard the living-up-to-its-lifetime-guarantee garden hose I picked up at the factory a couple of decades ago. </sarcasm> - again, more is better, but not mandatory. The dollar cost of a 3/4" ID best-quality garden hose is a fair savings over one inch air hose, and more than large enough for a truck mounted compressor. And if you have a larger tow-behind with a long reel of hose, you might want more than one inch. (they make friction loss charts for air as well as for water)

    6. A 185 cfm compressor works fine for residentials. I imagine it would. A dinkwater 10 cfm would also work for small residentials, but you wouldn't look so great doing them, and there is a time factor, as well, if you use one of the small compressors on a larger system. But even a 1000 cfm compressor wouldn't save much time on small residentials, and you wouldn't get from home to home any faster.

    For someone just beginning, renting a towable is probably makes the most sense, while keeping an eye open for a local bargain to buy. The truly mechanically inclined could always cobble together a truck-mounted compressor from the right combination of pump, engine, and control valves.
  5. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,070

    Just don't waste money on too small a truck-mounted compressor, or the customers will get the idea of going out and buying their own. I think that some noodge tried to use one of the following, with customer outrage come next spring. (that's a five gallon tank with a one point something cfm pump on it, driven by a one horsepower engine) :rolleyes:

  6. Rotor-Man

    Rotor-Man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 126

    Well said Mike, agree totally with your process of winterizing, and do it the same way almost to the "letter."
  7. MikeK

    MikeK LawnSite Member
    Messages: 145

    Thanks rotor man, I was feeling like I was a a bit of a minority on this post
  8. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,070

    What minority? Since when isn't more capability a better thing? But the OP was only anticipating a few dozen winterizings his first season, and if he's starting on residential service, that's a different workload than most established businesses would have.

    I can rebut assertions for big compressors being mandatory from my own experience as a beginning fixit guy, when a dinkwater compressor from the Grainger catalog took care of the first few residentials, and stayed bolted to the bed for the late-season requests. I also experimented with it on a few larger systems, and found out that you could actually clear the lines with repeated charges of air from the smaller unit. And I confirmed this by revisiting the test sites with a tow-behind and repeating the winterizing, to see what, if any water remained. I got it all the first time. But, as mentioned on other threads, winterizing big systems with small compressors gets real old real fast. And when it isn't you, but an employee working the winterizings, it makes good sense to make it as hard as possible not to do a good job, and a bigger compressor is part of the picture.

    Messages: 18,668

  10. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,026

    A 125 tow behind with adjustable pressure will do all of them.
    A 180 diesel we rented turned out to not to be worth the money.

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