Before the advent of winter, you need proper preparation so that your appliances, tools, and home systems remain protected even in extreme temperatures. Here, we’ll learn how to winterize sprinkler system to prevent it from any kind of damage due to freezing temperatures. 

This project is even more crucial if your yard is subject to frost. Remember that any sitting water can freeze and burst your plumbing pipes, your garden hose, or the pipes to your lawn sprinkler system – resulting in massive damage and costly repairs. 

The good news is that the methods to winterize your sprinkler system are not that difficult. With the right equipment, you can easily drain your sprinklers and prepare them for the winter months – without the help of a professional.

What does it mean to winterize sprinkler system?

Winterize sprinkler system

Your sprinkler system comprises a network of pipes that supply the water to your yard, lawn, and garden. These pipes, during cold climates, are susceptible to bursting or cracking. This can damage your entire irrigation system and cost you a lot of money. 

Winterizing is a method that makes your above-ground pipes ready for the harsh cold weather and protects them from freezing. Winterizing sprinkler systems is a necessity for all homeowners living in frigid climes. Failing to do so risks having water freeze inside the system. Water expands as it freezes, harming irrigation valves, sprinkler heads, and pipes in the process. Therefore, winterizing properly can help extend your sprinkler system’s life span.

Winterizing your sprinkler system will also ensure that there won’t be any unforeseen delay or damage as the spring season begins. 

What’s the cost to winterize sprinkler system by a professional?

The average cost to winterize a sprinkler system in the United States is $90, with most sprinkler system services costing between $60 and $120. However, homeowners with vast yards with numerous irrigation zones may have to pay up to $275, while homeowners with small systems might only have to pay $45.

How to winterize sprinkler system?

Winterizing your lawn irrigation system can be as easy as closing a valve. There are basically three methods of winterizing your sprinklers. You can choose the one that applies to the type of sprinkler system you have. 

Keep in mind that each system comes with specific instructions in the user manual. Always read the instructions before beginning the winterizing process.   

And, follow safety precautions since you’re dealing with pressurized water. Any negligence may cause eye injuries. Make sure to wear protective eyewear before you get started.

Read more: How to insulate exposed water pipes

Automatic-drain method

sprinkler systems

This is one of the easiest methods to drain your pipes and prepare them for winter. Here, the valves automatically drain the pipes. 

  • Shut off the water supply to your system.
  • Open up one of the sprinkler heads and relieve pressure in the system. 
  • Let the pipes begin draining and removing excess water from the system. 
  • Clear and drain the valves by locating the solenoid that electrically energizes or de-energizes to control the flow of water. Loosen the top end and allow air to flow into the system. The valves will be drained out.

Manual-drain method

You have to manually drain some types of sprinkler systems. If you own one of these, here’s how you can drain the pipes.

  • Cut off the main water supply.
  • Locate the manual drain valves at the ends of the piping.
  • Open each valve slowly – letting the water drain out completely.
  • Once you drain the water completely, close all the open valves.

Blow-out method

This is perhaps one of the most efficient ways to ensure that water is completely removed from your piping. Keep in mind that even a little water left in your pipe can crack or rupture the pipes during freezing temperatures. 

This method is a bit complicated as it involves forcing the water to drain out of your pipes with compressed air. Therefore, any mistake may damage the pipes or cause injury to you. If you’re not comfortable with the process, you may hire a professional to complete the task. 

  • Wear your safety glasses.
  • Shut off the water as well as the power supply.
  • Connect your air compressor to the sprinkler system using the correct coupler.
  • Do not push the compressed air directly through the backflow device.
  • Locate the farthest sprinkler station from the compressor and open the sprinkler head.
  • Close the backflow valves and slowly open the valve on the compressor.
  • Add air pressure gradually. 
  • Let the water flow from the active head of the sprinkler.
  • Take turns to open each head.
  • Disconnect the compressor and ensure that any remaining air pressure is released by opening and shutting off of valves on the backflow device and drain valves.
  • Closed all valves once you’re done.

Some useful tips for maintaining the sprinkler system

While winterizing your sprinkler system is important, you should also ensure routine sprinkler system maintenance all year round. Here are a few things you should keep in mind to prolong the life of your sprinklers.

  • Make sure the system delivers the appropriate amount of water to your lawn or garden. And, there is sufficient water pressure. 
  • Regularly check the sprinkler heads and pipes for any clogging. 
  • Watch out for brown spots in your lawn grass. These may indicate that the sprinkler system is not working properly. 

Last thoughts

If you live in a region where temperatures drop below freezing point, you’ll need to protect your plumbing system as well as your sprinkler system. 

The extreme cold may make your pipes susceptible to damage and cracks. Any remaining water inside the pipes will expand and exert pressure on the walls of your pipe – causing them to break. 

Winterizing annually will help prevent such damage and ward off costly repairs in the spring. 

Steps to winterize sprinkler system in freezing temperatures was last modified: January 13th, 2023 by Ramona Sinha
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