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Irrigation Systems and Ice Dam Removal: Warning!

As ice dam removal professionals, we must have access to water before we can begin work.  Usually this doesn’t present much of a problem: Homeowners turn on their spigots, and we get to work.

But sometimes the homeowner complicates matters by having an irrigation system. In most cases an irrigation system presents no problem at all.  In fact most homes we de-ice have irrigation systems.  But…if that homeowner isn’t paying attention, this simple operation can turn into an expensive disaster – and it can unfold very quickly.

You have to be sure that when you turn on your water from inside the house that you’re not also sending water through your underground irrigation system.  If water enters your irrigation system, the entire pipe system is going to freeze and burst in no time flat, and you’ll be looking at repairs totaling several thousands of dollars.  It won’t be your ice dam technician’s fault, either: we don’t know your home.  We certainly do our best to keep an eye out for any obvious signs of an irrigation system plumbed right into your spigot without the presence of a shut-off valve.  Please remember that we’re not irrigation contractors (or plumbers).  We’re ice dam removal specialists.  We want to do everything in our power to help, but we cannot be liable for water inadvertently filling your irrigation system. 

We recommend calling your irrigation contractor prior to our arrival. You can say something like this. “Hey, this is Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  We’re having ice dam issues this winter.  Ice dam removers are on their way and they need access to an exterior water spigot.  Is that going to affect the irrigation system in any way?”

Your irrigation guy will almost certainly tell you that you’ve got nothing to worry about, but is some cases he may say, “Whoa, I’m glad you called me!  Make sure you use that spigot in the back of your house, not the spigot in the front!”  He may even tell you exactly where to find the water valve that we’ll need you to turn on (typically in your utility room, laundry room, or in your crawlspace).

Not to sound too much like a Geico commercial here, but that 30-second phone call could save you thousands of dollars.

Most likely, your ice dam removal technician is not going to ask you about irrigation system. He’s focused on removing your ice dam, and he’s expecting that you know your home and how things work.  He might give you this same advice if you happen to mention it to him, but most ice dam technicians have too much on their minds to think twice about it.  After all, many homes don’t even have irrigation systems, and the ones that do don’t often have this issue because whoever blew out your irrigation system in the fall most likely closed the ball-valve to prevent water from entering your irrigation system (and typically they zip-tie it shut so that it can’t be mistakenly opened).

If you have any doubt, make sure you take the time to call your irrigation contractor. 

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