Maintenance Procedures

“How much maintenance is involved with an irrigation system?” This is a common question among those considering the installation of a sprinkler system, and it is important for you, as the consumer, to know what is involved when it comes to routine maintenance and upkeep of a sprinkler system. There are a few essentials that will prolong the life of your system and prove to be very beneficial in the long run.


Backflow Prevention

Just what is a backflow preventer and why do I need one? A backflow preventer prevents non-potable water (irrigation) from contaminating potable (drinking)water. The state of IL plumbing code requires a backflow preventer to be installed on every lawn irrigation system. Plumbing code also requires the device to be tested on an annual basis. Only a Cross-Connection Control Device Inspector is qualified to perform this test. We have several license holders on our staff. Please contact our service department to schedule your backflow test. At the time of installation we will test your backflow preventer. Following this initial test we will send an inspection reminder to you on an annual basis.



How your system was installed will determine what means are necessary for preparing your system for winter. There are two options:

  1. Automatic Drain
  2. Blow Out.

Nearly 100% of the residential systems installed by Tri-County Irrigation are automatic drains. What this means is that you don’t have to use compressed air to ‘blowout’ the system each winter. The Automatic Drain system is very beneficial because you can do the winterization on your own in a short amount of time! If you need to start the system back up for any reason the winterization process can be easily repeated as often as necessary. With this information, why would you choose any other option?


Blow Out systems are usually reserved for larger scale, commercial projects and a select few residential systems. With this type of system, a high volume air compressor will be needed to complete the winterization process. Please contact us to schedule your system’s winterization.

Winterizing an Automatic Drain System

  1. Turn water off to irrigation system. (marked irrigation ‘shut off’ or white handled TCI valve)
  2. Open boiler drain and allow water to completely drain out of system.
  3. Leave drain open and drip bucket in place.
  4. Turn blue handled ball valves on backflow preventer so they are perpendicular to the pipe.
  5. Turn controller to off position.
  6. The system is now winterized.

(This procedure is only for Automatic Drain systems with the backflow preventer inside!)


We typically start turning systems on about the middle of April. This is obviously dependent upon the weather, but our experience has determined that this is usually about the time when we are free from dangerously cold temperatures. It is very important to start-up and test your system each spring. The procedure for this is outlined below. It is important to operate each zone, check the adjustment of each sprinkler, and make sure that no damage has been done to the system through the winter. Ensuring that the time and date, program start times, and zone run times are properly set are crucial for optimum performance of your system. Please contact us to schedule your spring start-up.

Starting the irrigation system

  1. Close boiler drain. (marked “Irrigation Drain”)
  2. Turn blue handled ball valves (2) on backflow preventer so they are parallel with the pipe.
  3. Slowly turn ball valve (marked “Irrigation Shut Off” or white handle with Tri County Irrigation logo) and wait for water to fill the mainline. When water has stopped flowing, completely open valve.
  4. Go to irrigation controller and perform test. (see instructions below)

Hunter Controllers:

The Pro-C and ICC allow the user a simplified method for running a test program. This feature operates each station in numerical sequence, from the lowest to the highest. You can start with any station. This is a great feature to check the operation of your irrigation system.

To initiate the test program:

  1. Press and hold the Prg button. The station number will be flashing.
  2. Press the < or > button to scroll to the station you would like the test program to start with. Use the + and – button to set a run time of up to 15 minutes. The run time needs to be entered only once.
  3. After a 2 second pause, the test program will begin. Ensure all sprinklers are properly adjusted and operating correctly.
  4. Check the current date and time and adjust as needed. Confirm program settings and turn the dial to the run position.
  5. The irrigation system is now ready for operation.

Hunter has recently added several helpful “how-to” videos to their website. Please follow this link to view the selection:

>>> Training Videos

Rain Bird Controllers: