How Do You Winterize a Sprinkler System?: A Step-By-Step Guide


For many Americans, installing a sprinkler system in your lawn is a great way to ensure that your grass and plants get the irrigation they need. This is especially useful in drier climates, where lawns may be prone to dead grass or droughts. Inground sprinkler systems distribute water evenly, and you can also set them to water your lawn automatically and at specific times.

For those who live in colder climates, however, you may wonder, "How do you winterize a sprinkler system?" To winterize lawn sprinkler systems, you have to follow several important steps before the cold months set in to make sure that your system is properly taken care of. Freezing temperatures can do considerable damage to a sprinkler system if there is still water in the pipes, so winterizing your sprinkler system will help you avoid the need for potentially costly sprinkler system repairs.

How do you winterize a sprinkler system? Follow these steps:

1. Turn the water off. You can do this by finding the master shut-off valve in your basement, shed, or other utility room. Doing this will prevent water from accumulating in the pipes.

2. This step varies depending on whether you have automatic or manual valves in your sprinkler system, so be sure to check any instructions that came with your system. You will need to drain the water from the sprinkler system. Open the hose bib and catch water that runs from the pipes with a large bucket. Because the water will be coming out of the pipes, you will get sprayed, so make sure that you are dressed appropriately.

3. For this next step, you will need to rent or purchase an air compressor. You can typically rent one at a hardware or home and garden store that offers tool rental services. You'll need to charge the air compressor to the appropriate amount, usually 60 PSI (pounds per square inch), although again, you should make sure to check any guides that came with your sprinkler system to see what the manufacturer recommends. Next, while the compressor is off, attach it to the hose bib, creating a secure seal. (Hint: you may also want safety goggles as you work, and you may need to purchase a coupling that fits between your system and the air compressor.)

4. Once the compressor is sealed to the hose bib, turn the compressor on. Start with the furthest zone out and work your way closer to your home. Keep the sprinkler on for about two minutes in each zone to ensure that water will be properly drained. You will know when it's time to move to the next zone when the water turns from mist to air. As you blow out the air in each zone, be sure not to stand too close to the active sprinkler head. Once all zones are complete, your sprinkler system has been properly winterized.

If you're still wondering how do you winterize a sprinkler system that is a specific model or has other needs, or if you are unable to complete this task yourself, contact your professional lawn care services company to help you with your sprinkler system. Working with air compressors can be dangerous to you and your sprinkler system, so get a professional to handle it if you have concerns. A lawn sprinkler system is an investment that has to be taken care of each year, so don't risk costly repairs by not preparing it for the change in season.