Turning on Sprinkler for Spring

Discussion in 'Irrigation / Sprinkler Forum' started by Tabrizz, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. Tabrizz

    Tabrizz New Member

    Apr 23, 2008
    My sprinkler system was winterized this past fall. Now, I am turning it on for the 1st time this spring. I received instructions on how to do it but and unclear and could use some help clarifying them. I have included a picture below which looks just like my vacuum breaker connected to my house.

    1.) I was told to make sure the valves on the vacuum breaker are fully opened and ports are closed. (I am confused as to what "valve" needs to be opened and what "port" needs to be closed)

    2.) Make certain bleeder screws on valves are tight. (Are these the test cocks as they are labeled in the picture, and if so do you just turn them to the right to tighten?)

    3.) Drain cap in basement is tight (I know how to do this since I watched them do it last fall)

    4.) Turn water on in basement (Pretty straight forward by turning on shut off valve slowly)

    5.) Pressurize vacuum breaker (Is there a specific valve to turn on the vacuum breaker or will turning on the water in the basement simply pressurize the vacuum breaker?)

    Thanks in advance,


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 23, 2008
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Sep 1, 2004
    Yakima WA
    There are several types of back flow prevention devices. A vacuum breaker as you have pictured is one of these. The valves that need to be on are the ball valves on each side of the device. The bleeders are part of the test cocks. When the device is tested, the inspector connects his instrument to the test cock and opens the bleeder. If you turn water on with a bleed open, it will squirt water. Usually they open/close with a flat screwdriver. No harm done if water applied while open. I have not used a vacuum devices as you have shown, but I'm sure the water pressure will activate the device. Some cities require annual testing of the back flow devices by a licensed inspector, so you should check codes in your area.
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  4. Mr_Pike

    Mr_Pike New Member

    Jun 28, 2007
    First, make sure the test ports on the Vacuum Breaker (what you have pictured is a Vacuum breaker) are closed. Most likely you would use a flat screw driver to turn the screw perpendicular with the opening on the side. Most times closed is pointing up and down, not horizontal.

    Then make sure the last valve before the water goes into the ground is closed. Make sure the first valve is open. You would turn the valves to the opposite of what is pictured. In the diagram the handle facing us is open, we need that one closed. Remember, perpendicular to the opening of the valve is normally closed. You need to stop the water before it enters the mainlines headed to your valve boxes. If you don't close one of the valves on the Vacuum Breaker, sometimes it is hard to get the release to seat, and you get water spewing from under the top cap.

    Make sure any drain openings/caps/valves in the house are closed. Then turn on the master supply valve pressurizing the system to the Vacuum breaker. You should hear the water rush into the lines and then stop.
    If it does not stop, you should investigate quickly where it is going.

    Turn on your clock and activate zone 1 (no water will be coming out, but set the zone to run for a few minutes)

    Goto your vacuum breaker and slowly open the last valve that you made sure was closed. Only crack this valve a bit at a time until water starts seeping from your sprinkler heads. Once you have filled the main line and the zone line, and you get a little back pressure at the valve, open it all the way.
    If you just fling that last valve open the drastic loss in pressure as the water rushes to fill the empty pipe will sometimes activate the backflow prevention device and water will spill out of the top. If that happens, close the last valve again to rebuild this pressure. Once the spillage stops, slowly open the valve again until you can get it all the way open without any spillage.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2008
  5. Tabrizz

    Tabrizz New Member

    Apr 23, 2008
    Thanks for the reply's above. They were both very helpful and thorough. I followed explainations and everything turned on perfectly! :)

    No busted pipes or anything wrong so I am very pleased with the results. More importantly I learned about my sprinkler irrigation system and understand it now for future refference.

    Thanks guys! :)

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