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Protecting your irrigation system during overnight low temperatures

A freeze warning northwest of metro-Richmond Wednesday morning is leaving some homeowners taking precautions the night before, especially with their irrigation
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 6:07 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2022 at 6:16 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Old man winter is showing his face again across Richmond as the National Weather Service issues a freeze warning and frost advisory.

A freeze warning northwest of metro Richmond Wednesday morning leaves some homeowners taking precautions the night before, especially with their irrigation systems.

Since March, James River Irrigation, LLC has been on the go re-starting sprinkler systems.

“Every irrigation company is just completely swamped with business right now,” said Tom Nowak, President of James River Irrigation, LLC.

However, precautions from the National Weather Service about the overnight freeze warning left Nowak surprised; specifically, the part reading, “Those that have in-ground sprinkler systems should drain them...”

“Totally unnecessary, and even if you wanted to do that, I’m quite sure you wouldn’t be able to get anyone to do it right now,” Nowak said.

That essentially would mean winterizing your system for just one night.

“It is going to get a little bit chilly tonight, but probably not long enough or cold enough to cause any significant damage,” Nowak said.

Instead, Nowak said there are other precautions you can take, especially if your backflow preventer is located outside.

“Just cover it up with a blanket, sweatshirt for this short period of cold we’re going to have,” he said. “Basically, what it does is it just holds some of the heat from the ground in there. A bed sheet would probably suffice, but you might as well get something with a little more insulation.”

However, not all are located outside; some are inside the crawl space. Nowak said those should be just fine.

Meanwhile, some irrigation systems are already on a schedule for beautifying the lawn. You may have to adjust that.

“Tonight, just turn your controller off, so your system doesn’t run tonight,” Nowak said. “Otherwise, you could have a sheet of ice on your sidewalk or your lawn in the morning.”

In years past, the last freeze in the metro-Richmond area was around April 15.

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