The Sprayer That Came in From the Cold

It's cold! So we've decided to discuss the issue of freeze damage as it relates to golf course spray equipment.

We are continually surprised by the number of equipment managers & superintendents reporting freeze damage, even though this problem is totally avoidable.

A couple of general comments to begin with:

1. Freeze damage affects both manual (hand sprayers, backpack sprayers) and power sprayers.

2. Spray equipment that is left under pressure, will experience more severe freeze problems than equipment that is not under pressure. Instruct your spray techs to release the pressure on all sprayers after each use and at the end of the day. A few years ago, we had a rare deep freeze in Phoenix. The next day, any sprayer that was left outside under pressure came in with a burst spray wand.

3. If you live in a climate where freezing is common, be sure to discuss this with your equipment provider so the equipment can be designed appropriately.

4. If your equipment freezes, do NOT use it until it thaws. There is a reasonable chance that no damage occurred. If you try to run a frozen system you may do damage, even where none exists.

Here are my suggestions for preventing freeze damage, in order of lowest to highest risk.

1. Do not expose the equipment to freezing. Store it inside in heated space. Zero risk.

2. Drain as much water as possible out of the system. Remove the pump, gun & filter cup (and any other valuable components at risk of freezing) and store them inside. Be sure all valves are open. Be sure to tell your equipment vendor that you will be removing the pump. Your vendor can utilize fittings that make removing the pump a little quicker.

3. Use an anti-freeze/water mixture (50/50) to prevent water in the pump from freezing and bursting the pump. Anti-freeze can be put into the tank and the pump run long enough to get the anti-freeze through the system. You can also request that your spray equipment provider install fittings in line in front of the pump so that anti-freeze can be poured directly into the pump.

4 . Keep the pump warm with an electric battery heated blanket (designed for spray pumps or car batteries) or a light bulb suspended in a box over the pump (be sure you have not created a fire hazard). Again drain system, then remove spray gun, filter cup and open valves. This probably is more appropriate where the deep freezes are periodic, rather than a full season.

Winter is already a slow spray season; let’s not compound our problems by allowing a deep freeze to damage our golf course spray equipment. 

Andrew Greess is a nationally published Spray Equipment expert and President of Quality Equipment Spray, a manufacturer of sprayers for Golf Course, Pest, Weed Landscaping. You can reach him at, or follow on twitter: @AndrewGreess or find more tips at Spray Equipment Blog.