Winterize your exterior water systems

  1. Check electrical systems on livestock winter watering bowls. These water bowls have thermostats that kick in to prevent the contents from freezing, and heat tape on the water line that keeps water from freezing below ground. Don’t wait until winter to find out if they are working. Williamson advises checking them in the fall by holding a frozen ice pack on the thermostat or the temperature sensor on the water line. Hold your hand near the heating element or heat type: You should feel the elements activating within seconds. If not, a new element, thermostat or heat tape may be needed.
  2. Winterize stock waterier. Make sure the insulation inside the watering bowl is in good shape. The waterier should also sit firmly on a concrete base with caulking so the wind cannot get under it and freeze the water lines.
  3. Maintain well pits. New well pit installations have not been legal in many jurisdictions for a decade or more, but many older well pits still exist. If your water system has a pump in a well pit, you’ll need adequate insulation to keep it from freezing. A lid with rigid insulation will help. It’s important that the lid fits snugly and is airtight. No amount of insulation will help if frigid air can flow down into the pit. If you’ve had freeze-ups previously, hang a light bulb in the pit and keep it burning during the coldest months. Some wells release methane gas and pits have exploded, so use caution when working in them.
  4. Shut down lawn and Garden sprinkler systems. Where winters are fierce, it’s necessary to drain or blow out sprinkler systems to prevent hoses from exploding. First, shut off e main water supply to the inside a heated area, or it will freeze. Shut own an automated system by turning it to a “rain” setting (Which retains all your settings for the next season) or turning off the power to it (Which means you’ll have to reset all the zones and settings in the spring). If a pump is wired to the controller, it is best to shut off the power. Otherwise, you may start the pump accidentally and damage it. Williamson says most sprinkler systems can be drained, if the drains were installed at the lowest points in the system. Just open all the valves and drains, and leave them open. Sprinkler head are designed to drain when the water supply is cut off, he says. “Plastic can tolerate freezing fairly well as long as the lines are open. If the lines are close, there isn’t anywhere for the pressure to go, and that is what damages lines and valves.” After lines are drained, an extra precaution is to blow them out with an air compressor. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure you do not damage the system.
  5. Drain summer livestock watering systems. This includes pressure tanks, pumps and foot valves, and water lines. Again, open all the valves and leave them open. “Shut-off valves are the most susceptible to freezing,” Williamson says. “Brass doesn’t tolerate freezing when it is full of water.”
  6. Protect outdoor faucets. More new homes have an outside faucet that drains automatically when shut off. However, these faucets may have an anti-siphon valve that must be manually drained for the winter. (Some of these drain automatically when the water pressure drops.) Older faucets may have a shut-off valve inside the house. With these types, turn off the water supply inside, and then drain the faucet outside by loosening a small brass plug or cap on the valve. Caulk around faucets to prevent cold air from entering the house.
  7. Disconnect hoses. Detach, drain and store hoses before that first deep freeze in the fall. Other-wise, the water in the faucet can freeze and cause valve failure.
  8. Check the Septic System. A septic tank should be pumped out every two or three years by professionals, Williamson says. During the winter, make sure vehicles (From tractors to snow machines) don’t drive over the septic field. Compacted snow can drive frost deeper, possibly resulting in a frozen system.


By Bruce Barker – Acreage Life.