What is in this article?:
- Irrigation equipment needs attention before winter
- Drain pivots, solid set systems
- Travelers, big guns
- Electrical systems
• Broken pipes from freeze damage and electrical equipment failure are results of poor winter preparation of irrigation equipment.
Drain pivots, solid set systems
Drain pivots and solid set systems
Most of the currently designed pivots have automatic frost drains that drain the main overhead pipe. Solid set systems may have automatic drains, but you should always inspect that water has been eliminated from the pump to the farthest ends of the system.
Plugged automatic frost drains can lead to major repairs if not caught in a fall inspection.
Rock traps need to be cleaned and drained. Some designs may accumulate water condensing in the pipe over the winter, leading to freeze cracks in rock traps that are emptied and put back in place. To avoid this issue, many producers install a piece of hardware cloth held in place by the lock ring to allow condensate to leave the system.
Pivot supply lines, end gun supply and hydro control hoses are often installed to allow drainage, but the hose may sag and trap water which can lead to damage. Remember to cap all large openings into the system to prevent bird nesting.
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Lower water levels in underground piping systems
Few underground piping systems require complete draining to protect from freezing. Lowering the water within the system so that the water is two to three feet below soil surface will prevent freeze damage in most situations.
Water can be pushed out of the system by compressed air pumps available from most irrigation dealers or may be pumped from the underground pipe system using a common fertilizer style transfer pump. As a Michigan State University Extension and Purdue Extension irrigation educator, I have found an easy way to do this is by using a gas powered transfer pump at the lowest access point in the underground piping system. A one and one forth inch tube slid down inside a riser or two inch access in the manifold where air relief is, can be piped to the intake of the pump.