Some of our clients ask us whether they need to winterize their irrigation systems in the Florida Panhandle area. It’s a great question, and one with a complex answer: While the Florida panhandle is not one to typically suffer prolonged winter freezes, at least not like those in other parts of the country, freezes do happen. Last winter and spring were especially brutal in the Florida panhandle, with some palm and citrus trees dying in the bitter cold. The average low temperature in December and January is 40, which is definitely above freezing, but that’s just the average. Temperatures do fall into the 20s.
Whether you choose to winterize completely or simply make adjustments throughout the season as necessary, here are a few irrigation winterization maintenance items to consider as cold temperatures approach.
Does Your Irrigation System Have A Freeze Sensor?
If your sprinkler system has a rain sensor, make sure there’s a freeze sensor, too. This sensor helps the system shut off when temperatures fall below freezing or when it detects moisture. This will prevent your landscaping and roadways from accumulating water which can then freeze over and cause lawn and plant damage, as well as dangerous walking and driving conditions.
If you have a freeze sensor already, it should be checked as you go into winter. You’ll need to check the sensor’s batteries, as well as check the sensor manually. Know that these batteries can deplete as cold weather kicks in. To test the sensor, blast it with cold air from a compressed can of air to see if the sensor light comes on. Landscape professionals like those of us at Green Earth can test your freeze sensor for you, if you want to ensure it’s done properly.
Shut Off The Water In Freezing Conditions
If you know a freeze is on the way, turn off your water source to ensure that your sprinklers won’t accidentally go off. In Florida, it’s less important to drain the hoses and irrigation pipes, but it’s something many recommend doing if a freeze will be prolonged or extreme.
Underground pipes are usually better insulated, but those that are exposed should be covered with insulation in freezing weather, along with any pumps and pump housing.
Remove Hoses From Hose Bibs
Removing the hoses from the hose bibs helps to prevent the water pipes inside the walls from freezing. In doing so, you’ll want to drain as much of the water from there as possible.
While we at GreenEarth Landscape Services don’t think it’s necessary to completely winterize your irrigation system in the Florida panhandle area, it’s important to know what to do in case freezing temperatures are on the way.
If you’re still interested in winterizing completely, call a professional that can do the job completely, so you don’t need to worry about missing something. Cracked irrigation parts can be labor intensive to repair, so sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to prevention.
If you have questions about whether to winterize your irrigation system or how to do it, the professionals at GreenEarth Landscape Services can help. Call our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.