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Experts: Clear out sprinklers before winter hits Montana

Broken Pipe
Posted at 8:49 AM, Oct 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-10 11:06:38-04

BILLINGS - Sprinkler systems across Montana are beginning to be shut off as winter gets closer and temperatures drop.

Freezing pipes are an expensive risk that people in Montana are used to, and it's that time of the year to be prepared.

Kevin Cicero and Jon McNeish blow out hundreds of sprinkler systems in Billings every year.

McNeish says it's an issue you definitely want to get ahead of.

"When that water freezes, it expands, and if there's enough water in that line, it's going to break. I've seen whole zones destroyed and then you've got to come back in, and trench and it gets ugly and expensive fast," McNeish said.

It's the time of the year when Cicero and McNeish see the most business, and Cicero said it's better to shut off sprinkler systems earlier rather than later.

"I would prepare for the worst. There was a customer last year that tried to blow his sprinklers out, and he didn't blow it out properly," Cicero said. "We had to fix a 20-foot PVC pipe break."

If you haven't made your plans yet to get someone to your house, Cicero and McNeish said there is a way to protect your home in the short term.

"We'll show them ways to cover that black flow to keep it warmer than what it should be, and then to get water out of the pipe that's above ground," Cicero said.

"Yeah, and that will buy you some time until your sprinkler company can get there and get everything blown out," McNeish said.

The process isn't that complicated, but Cicero said it is important to have an understanding of your pipe system in order to protect your house.

"This goes out to the backflow which we are going to show you guys," Cicero said as he demonstrated how to shut off the system during an interview. "So, we always shut that off. That's the most important thing right there. Make sure it is the sprinkler mainline."

Once Cicero turns the knob, the rest of the water drains out of the system, and eventually, it will blow air out of the pipe as well. That will keep your pipes safe until a company can finish the job above ground.