System blowout question

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Critical Care, Sep 16, 2004.

  1. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    A question for those of you who have been blowing out systems for a while...

    This will be my first year doing it, and right off the bat I see that I need to stock up on a number of different adapters and connectors, not to mention Teflon tape. My big question has to do with people who do not have blow out stubs, no backflow device, and no main irrigation shutoff valve other than the whats on the homes domestic service line. First of all, I’m not sure how wise it would be to hook up to a sprinkler’s funny pipe upstream of a valve, and in these cases where there isn’t an irrigation main shutoff valve I’d more than likely blowout all the toilet water in the house! Now wouldn’t that be a shock to the poor son of a gun sitting on the can!

    Weather report says it could snow here this weekend. It is September, right?
  2. MikeK

    MikeK LawnSite Member
    Messages: 145

    We winterize over 800 systems a year and every one has some type of backflow prevention device and a separate shutoff for the Sprinkler system.
    Just about every System in MN that I have seen has a 3/4" boiler drain or plug for use as a blow out point.

    If you cannot shut off or Isolate the irrigation system from the main service, what is the point in Winterization? Once you turn on the water again, the main line will just fill up.
    You should be using a compressor with Oil cooled air, mixing this Will the domestic water is sure to give the family the trots once they drink a glass of water.

    My guess is that there is a separate shutoff for the sprinkler system and blowout point, you just may have to dig a bit to find it.
  3. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    No backflow device?? Don't they have a plumbing code of any kind up there?
    I understand that there are plenty of jake-leg do-it-yourselfers that put their own system in, but no backflow device is inexcusable. If you do some kind of work such as winterizing/blowout, and something happens either inside the house, or somewhere else on the water distribution system guess whose liable?

    I realize there are not many states that license and regulate irrigation, but by Texas Law every system installed legally, (key word) must have a backflow device installed and they are tested annually. I won't work on a system that does not have a backflow device. Simple as that. If they won't pony up the money to bring the system up to code, I'm not going to risk my Irrigator's License, my Backflow tester's license, and my business for a few dollars to fix their system. I have walked away from a potential customer because they said that they would get one put in later, but they needed me to service the system now. They thought I was just trying to gouge them for the extra bucks, and I knew they weren't going to put one in later.

    And I only had one guy get real crappy with me about it. Told me I was a crook and an SOB, etc, etc. Told him fine, he could take care of it himself. I left, called the plumbing inspection department and reported an illegal and potentially dangerous cross connection. And the cheif inspector in that town was a stickler for backflow, so I'm sure he got a notification of non-compliance.

    I can't tell anyone how to make their living, but I wouldn't do anything on an irrigation system that wasn't properly outfitted with a backflow decvice.

    Just my take.

    Jerry R
  4. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    Yep, your right guys, and Jerry there are (now) codes requiring devices to be installed on the domestic service line, but I'm not sure that they are required on the irrigation lines. Some places are pre code or slip under the radar undetected without any prevention at all.

    And Mike, needless to say, if I can't find a BFD or main shutoff valve I won't touch it. This one place comes to mind - a fairly new install, but by a company that has had problems. Could be that the BFD and shutoff is buried, like you say, though the valve boxes are out in the open. Since I wouldn't put it past this company not to have installed a device, or valve, I'm not too sure how long and far I should be digging up the landscape. Probably not worth it for forty or fifty bucks. Know what I mean?

    FEELIN' DUCKY IN PA LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    :angel: our co. charges 80 bucks for residential and 120 bucks for commercial sites plus any material charges if repairs are necessary. we like to do repairs at the time of the blow out, not wait until spring.
  6. Sprinkler Doc

    Sprinkler Doc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    What is the proper method to make sure the backflow device has all the water removed?
    If I hook up the compressor downstream from the device, only the bleed screw closest to the air input, will have pressure. (which is quite as it should be).
  7. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    I started installing backflows (double checks) with unions where I can remove them for winter. For those that I can't remove, what I'm using now is in the pic below.

    I just open the #1 testcock of the device and with the rubber tip of the air sprayer I "gently" blow out the device. The ball valve can regulate the flow, the rubber hose allows the rest of the fittings to just lay on the ground, and there's a swivel on the air nozzle to allow getting into tight places.


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