I already winterized the sprinkler system itself and I am wondering if I need to winterize these copper pipes as well. Should I open up the bottom plug to drain the verticle pipes? I live in the Northeast of the USA. I don't have a bleeding valve inside the house that's close to these outside pipes. enter image description here

  • the shutoff should be inside the house .... turn it off and drain all water from the copper pipes – jsotola Oct 23 '18 at 20:46
  • @jsotola I already turned off the shutoff inside the house. Should I open up the plug at the bottom? I think there is still water in the verticle pipes. This is not a very efficient design if I have to open the plug every year. – grokus Oct 23 '18 at 20:57
  • You could replace the plug fitting with a ball valve, but for something you only need to open once a year, this is a perfectly functional design. – Ecnerwal Oct 24 '18 at 0:43
  • Should I open up the plug at the bottom? ... why are you asking this? ..... i am 100% certain that you know how water behaves, therefore the answer should be obvious to you .... do whatever you have to do to empty the pipes – jsotola Oct 24 '18 at 0:45

Yes, you need to winterize them. That looks like a backflow-prevention device, which prevents water from the lawn from flowing back into the city pipes (in the event of a loss of pressure). Typically, when I lived in TX, my winterization procedure was to shut the inlet valve (the green-handled valve on the right side of the device in your picture) and turn the screws on the short stubby pieces 1/2 or 1/4 turn and drain the water from the backflow device itself. Turn the outlet valve (green-handled valve on the left of the device) partway closed. Wrap the piping in foam insulation, and possibly wrap the backflow prevention device itself in a towel or shirt for the few nights it dipped below freezing.

Given that you're in the Northeast US, though, you should have a shutoff valve / drain somewhere inside the house. Any piping prior to the inlet valve will still have water in it unless it's drained, and that portion of the pipe from the house to the inlet valve will freeze if it isn't drained. Once you find the shutoff, open its drain if it has one, and open the drain on the short vertical piece below the backflow device. Once all the water has drained you can close the drain on the short vertical piece. In the spring, close all the drains and open all the valves.

It may be a poor design, but the important thing is to make sure that any pipes exposed to the exterior are not full (or close to full) of water. The only way to do that is to drain the water in the system as part of the winterization.

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  • I'm very disappointed with the plumbing job for the sprinkler system. The inside shutoff for the irrigation system is very far from the outside pipes (more than 20 ft) and between the outside and the inside shutoff there is not a bleeding valve. – grokus Oct 23 '18 at 21:14
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    Those side plugs on the valves are for bleeding. They have added full and proper valves (operated by a screwdriver) and what look like compression fittings that would be very suitable for compressed air! That would apply to the top valve, the side valve may be merely to allow in air when it is drained from somewhere in the house interior. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 23 '18 at 23:37
  • If there was a bleeding valve inside the house, the whole thing would make perfect sense. But there is not. Opening up the bottom plug seems the only way. I may replace it with a ball point valve for easier future operations. – grokus Oct 25 '18 at 15:46

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