By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4)– Every autumn Mike Fose with High Plains Lawn in Denver is busy blowing out sprinkler systems, but this year especially so. “Everybody is shorthanded,” he says. “So, everybody like me we’re scrambling around trying to fill in for all the people who aren’t working.”

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Mike says you should really get a professional to blow out your sprinkler system before the first freeze, but by now contractors are likely booked. Fortunately, he also says this first freeze shouldn’t cause you too many problems if you take a few precautions. He explains, “In the winter time the ground freezes you have to worry about the components in the ground. Until that happens the only thing that’s going to freeze is the copper pipes on the outside of the house.”

First, he says shut off the water to your sprinkler system. Mike says, “It’s usually going to be located near the main valve to the shut off for your house.”

Next you should drain the vacuum breaker by finding the test ports next to them and opening them with a flathead screwdriver. “These test ports have a little screw you can turn them either direction. They just spit and spin and you should turn them about 45 degrees,” says Mike.

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Next turn the ball valve or valves that supply the vacuum beaker. “You can get water trapped in these ball valves so we are going to rotate both of those,” says Mike, “The next thing I would suggest doing is going to your sprinkler controller and you are going to want to run all your sprinklers.”

Then he says cover the unit with an insulated cover sold at hardware stores and pipe insulation. “Or the old-fashioned way, throw a bunch of old blankets over it and tie it up with some trash bags,” say Mike.

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Taking these steps will buy you time then you can call a contractor like Mike and have them winterize your system later. “If you’ve taken the steps to protect yourself for the first couple of freezes you’ll probably be ok to wait for the middle of November even,” Mike says.

Michael Abeyta