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Thread: black flexible pipe and winter

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member v1rtu0s1ty's Avatar
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    Default black flexible pipe and winter

    Good morning folks,

    I would like to install a poor man's sprinkler since I don't have any grass right now. It's bare soil. I call it poor man's because the sprinkler valve is removable and is only hooked to a spigot outside. But I was thinking of putting the pipe and the sprinkler head permanently but leaving them in the ground. I'm thinking of burrying them like 8-10" below. I'm in Chicago. Will winter break the pipe? I think the material is different from pvc sched 40. It's the one that doesn't crack even if you fold it.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Automatic Sprinkler Drains

    I'm going to assume you have polyethylene (poly) pipe. Poly pipe is popular in areas that get very cold in the winter because it is "resistant" to freeze breakage. burying it 8 to 10 inches helps protect from freezing as well-- common bury depth is around 6 inches. The best way of protecting your sprinkler lines from freezing is to use automatic drains http://www.sprinkler.com/buy/line_drains at the low points of the line which, as the name suggests, automatically drains the line each time the pressure is turned off. If installed correctly you can save a lot of potential heart ache.

  3. #3

    Default

    Buy quality pipe, not pipe from the big box stores.

    Do not use auto drains. Your better off having the system blown out.

  4. #4

    Default

    Blowing out your system works, but is subject to unforeseen freezes. Automatic drains drain the pipe every time the line is depressurized. Not only do you completely mitigate your risk of freeze damage, but also you do it without having to think about it. In many parts of the country blowing out the sprinkler system is considered outdated and unnecessary.
    This is, of course, just my point of view. It's not a big deal either way.
    Again, depending on the weather in your area you may not need to do either. Perhaps you could find out what your neighbors are doing.

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member v1rtu0s1ty's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks for the response. Yes, it's a poly.

    It freezes the dirt upto 3 ft below here in my area during winter. I'm up in the north of Illinois.

  6. #6
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by v1rtu0s1ty View Post
    Good morning folks,

    I think the material is different from pvc sched 40. It's the one that doesn't crack even if you fold it.

    Thanks!
    If it is black, it is PE. Crimped fittings. If it is white, sounds like class 125 PVC..glue fittings. Either must be drained to prevent freeze damage.

  7. #7
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Default

    When I installed my system some 25 years ago, I installed auto-drains in the low spots. Winter came and I had no way of knowing if they worked or not, so I had the system blown out. Now, I buried my PVC pipe, which was the old thin wall crap, as deep as the Ditch Witch would go, about 2'. However, we sometimes freeze deeper so I continue to blown the lines each fall. I have my own compressor and while it is slower than the industrial units the yard services use, it does the job. Poly pipe may resist freezing better than PVC, but freezing can break granite and concrete, so why risk it. A well designed underground system is one of the best things you can give to you home and to yourself. Be sure if you are using domestic water that you have a legal cross-contamination device and that it is re-certified annually.

  8. #8

    Default Poly Freeze

    The reason poly is "more resilient" to freeze breakage is that it is not like concrete or granite. Poly is flexible and can expand rather than brake. However, one should never rely on it's flexibility; It's not break proof.
    The power that results from the expansion of water when it turns to ice is incredible--and terrible if you haven't drained your sprinkler system properly.

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