Sprinkler system waters lawn

How to Winterize Your Sprinkler System

A lawn is watered by a sprinkler system in the morning.

We’re almost at the time of year again where we have to make sure our home is prepared for winter. Being ready for the season will vastly help you get your home prepared for spring once the snow melts away. A huge part is having a healthy, colorful green lawn. Winterizing your sprinklers will help prevent water from freezing inside the pipes and ruining your sprinkler system. By preparing your sprinkler system for the cold winter, you won’t have to worry about problems or making fixes once winter is over.

If you winterize your sprinkler system, you will be preventing damage to the pipes from water freezing inside them and ruining your sprinklers. As we near temperatures that are almost below freezing, you should start thinking about preparing your sprinkler system.

How to Tell When and If You Need to Winterize Your Sprinklers

If you don’t know whether or not you should winterize your sprinklers, a great way to determine this is to check the manufacturer’s user manual to see if it’s necessary. Checking this will also allow you to see if there are any other measures you may need to take to properly maintain your sprinkler system.

To determine when you’ll need to winterize a sprinkler system, look ahead for when the temperature will be below freezing (32°F or 0°C). Once you know this, try to do it one week prior to that time. Otherwise, a good timeframe to start is on October 1st. 

Tools Needed

As you prepare, having the proper tools and materials is essential:

Ensuring that you have the correct, high-quality tools for the job is very important in order to do the project correctly and safely.  Also, the tools you will need will depend on the type of draining method you will be using. Once you have all the right equipment, you’re ready to get started.

Sprinkler Winterization Instructions

1. Consult With User Manual

Before you try to winterize your sprinkler system, it’s important to go over the user manual. The user manual will tell you everything you need to know about your sprinkler system, along with the correct method to use to drain your system. 

2. Turn Off the Water Supply 

Once you have looked over your user manual, you will begin with shutting off the water. Start by finding the main valve and turning it off. Once that is complete, you should have a second valve that is meant to prevent backflow. These valves will also need to be turned off.

3. Turn Off Any Timers

After you have turned off the water supply, check to see if your system has any timers. If your system does have a timer, it is essential to turn these off as well.

4. Drain the Water

Worker turns off the water supply valve to the sprinkler system.

Once you have turned off your water supply, you have to drain all the water still inside the system. Depending on the type of system you have or what your user manual recommends, you can use three different methods to drain your system. It is very important to know which method your system can use in order to drain all the water and avoid any possible problems during the winter. When performing any of these different methods, make sure to wear the proper protective equipment such as safety glasses to protect your eyes from pressurized water or any other debris that may spit out during draining.

Manual Draining

The first method to drain water is manual draining. If your system allows for a manual drain, find the valves which are located at the ends or low points of the piping.

  • Step 1: Open all the valves in each zone in the system slowly to let the water out
  • Step 2: Lift all the sprinkler heads to release any possible water left inside
  • Step 3: Close all the valves once finished

Automatic Draining

The second method is automatic draining. If your system has automatic draining, once you shut off the main valve, the water pressure will begin to decrease, and the system will automatically start to run. Even with the system draining on its own, there usually will still be some water left inside. 

  • Step 1: Find the solenoid valve
  • Step 2: Slowly open the valve so the the remaining water will run out.

Blow-Out Draining

The final method is blow-out draining. Of the three different methods, this one is the most dangerous. We highly recommend that you take extreme caution if you do this on your own and wear the proper safety equipment. If your system allows you to do this method, you will need to hook up an air compressor to your pipes so that water will be propelled out of all the sprinkler heads. 

  • Step 1: Make sure the compressor valve is in the closed position
  • Step 2: Hook up the compressor hose
  • Step 3: Locate the sprinkler timer furthest away from the compressor and turn it on
  • Step 4: Close the backflow valves
  • Step 5: Open the valve connected to the backflow valves with the compressor slowly to add air pressure gently

Even if you know what you’re doing, it is recommended that you consider hiring professionals to perform the blow-out draining for your safety.

5. Insulate & Protect Above-Ground Sprinkler Parts

The last thing you should do for your sprinkler system ensures that all above-ground parts are properly secured. The essential parts you should look for are the main valve, backflow preventer, and pipes. 

Once you have located these parts, do your best to cover them in insulation tape, plastic bags, or any other types of foam-insulating coverings. When applying your insulation covering, it is vital to make sure that you keep air vents and drain outlets on the backflow preventer clear of any blockages to avoid any damage.

Winter Preparation Resources

Once you’ve winterized your sprinkler system, consider preparing other parts of your home for the winter, along with tips to stay safe during the season.

●        Prepare Your Home and Equipment for Winter

●        11 Tips To Stay Safe This Winter

●        Preparing For Winter Storms

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