How to Winterize Your Sprinkler System

Sprinkler systems provide an excellent way to keep your plants and lawns healthy. However, these systems often get neglected during the winter months. In this guide, we are going to outline how to properly winterize your sprinkler system.

What does winterizing sprinkler mean and why should you do it?

A sprinkler system uses water to irrigate plants and lawns. This happens through a series of pipes that are attached to sprinklers and valves. These valves operate using water pressure, however when things get cold enough, the water in these pipes freezes, which can cause serious damage to not only the system but also your plants and lawns.

To avoid having this happen, you need to prepare your sprinkler system for winter.

Winterizing your sprinkler system simply means taking steps to protect it from the cold weather. This can be done by draining any water that is left in the pipes and covering them with insulation.

It is an important part of preparing for the cold season. When temperatures drop below freezing, water left in sprinkler pipes can freeze and expand, causing the pipes to burst. A broken sprinkler pipe can be a real headache, and repairing or replacing it can be costly. Winterizing a sprinkler system is fairly simple, and doing it yourself can save you money.

Benefits of winterizing your sprinkler

Sprinkler systems are designed to operate at a certain pressure. When that pressure changes, it can disrupt performance. If you have a backflow preventer installed on your system, it must be winterized as well.

Winterizing can help it last and prevent groundwater contamination. It is always a good idea to have your irrigation components serviced at least once a year, but during the cold winter months, it is more important than ever to make sure your system is ready for the coming season. Winterizing your home sprinkler system will provide a number of benefits, including:

  • Saving you money on your water bill.
  • Protecting your irrigation components from cold weather
  • Preventing groundwater contamination.


What you need to get started:

The process requires some tools, some of which are:

  1. Shovel
  2. Garden hose
  3. Air compressor
  4. Valves
  5. Plugs
  6. Wrenches and other fittings.


You need a shovel for digging up the lawn to access the system pressure. You will also be using a garden hose to flush out any remaining water in the sprinkler pipes or valves. The air compressor is used to blow away any excess water left behind after flushing.

The valves are necessary for shutting off parts of your irrigation system that you do not need during winter and then opening them when it’s time to use them again. 

Plugs help close openings that might let in cold air into areas where you want heat retained. There are different types of plugs depending on what purpose they serve; for example, grommet plugs which are rubber-like, foam tapered plugs made from light plastic, and others like screw plugs which can be used as caps.

Wrenches and other fittings are necessary to tighten up the parts of your irrigation system that have been removed or disconnected in preparation for winter. This is important to not lose any of them before the next summer comes around again.

Processes involved in winterizing your sprinkler

There are a few simple processes you can take to winterize your home sprinkler system.

Shut off the water

The first step in winterizing your sprinkler system is shutting off the water supply. You’ll usually find the shutoff valve near the point where the main water line enters your house, but it might be buried depending on how old your home is. If you’re not sure where the valve is located, call a plumber or dig around until you find it.


After shutting off the water supply, you need to drain as much water from your sprinkler system as possible. This can be done by opening the valves and allowing the water to flow out until it is all gone. You can do this by attaching a hose to the faucet and opening the valve. Once all the water has drained, close the valve and remove the hose.

To make this process easier, you may want to invest in an air compressor that fits directly onto your garden hose. Using compressed air to blow out the lines will help you drain them faster than if you were using water alone. This is especially useful when the temperatures are cold and it takes longer for water to flow through your pipes due to freezing conditions.


After you have drained all the water from your sprinkler system, you will need to insulate it against the cold weather. This can be done by covering the pipes with foam insulation. If you do not have any foam, then you can use a plastic tarp or burlap sack instead.


The next step is to flush out any remaining water in your sprinkler system. This can be done by using a garden hose attached to an outdoor faucet and turning on full blast while pointing at openings where water might still be stored inside these areas such as valves, etc.

Blowing air through the pipes

Once you have flushed all the leftover water from your system, you will need to blow some air through it. This can be done by connecting an air compressor to one end of each pipe and turning it on full blast for about 30 seconds before disconnecting everything else again. If there is any excess moisture left behind after this process, then use dryer sheets or towels soaked with soapy liquid detergent to dry them up.

Cover your system for winter

This process involves covering any parts of the sprinkler system that are exposed in order to prevent ice buildup or freezing over during the winter months. You can do this by using a plastic tarp, burlap sack (if you don’t have foam insulation), and other materials such as sandbags which will provide added protection against heavy snowfall when combined together with these two things mentioned before it here today – but only if necessary.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Shut off the water supply from the main valve, then turn on all sprinklers- this lets you know where leaks might be present and also clears out any excess water left in your system after using it last time; if there are leaks, check whether they come from a faulty part or just poor connections between components (you can use rubber tape to seal poorly fitted joints).
  2. Use a garden hose connected at one end with a compressor blowing into it at the other – this will help remove any water that is left in the system.
  3. If you have a basement, put plugs into all drainage openings like window wells and grates to keep cold air from entering; if there is no basement, then you can use insulation foam around the edges of your home’s foundation where it meets the soil.
  4. Disconnect any hoses attached to valves or sprinkler heads and store them away for next season; also disconnect electrical wiring (if any) from valves and sprinklers.
  5. Replace all valve caps, gasket plugs, and foam tapered plugs- make sure everything is tight before moving on.
  6. Reconnect electrical wiring (if any) replace valve caps, gasket plugs, and foam tapered plugs.
  7. Turn on the main water valve and open valves to sections of the system you want to run – test for any leaks.
  8. If all is good, cover-up or shovel in the areas you dug up previously and wait for spring.


What not to do when closing your sprinkler system for the winter

Sprinklers are an important part of any landscape design and, when not cared for correctly, can cause a lot of damage to both your property and those around you. It is always recommended that you hire professional help to install anything related to water on your property, but if you do decide to take on the task yourself, be sure to winterize your sprinkler system properly.

There are a few things you should never do when closing your sprinkler system for the winter:

  • Don’t turn off the water supply to the sprinkler heads – this will cause them to rust and clog over time.
  • Don’t forget to blow out the water from the lines – this will help prevent them from freezing and bursting in the cold weather.
  • Don’t bury your sprinkler heads or pipes too deep in the ground – if they freeze, they could be damaged beyond repair.


Frequently Asked Questions


How do I know if my sprinkler system needs to be winterized?

If you live in an area where the temperature regularly drops below freezing, your sprinkler system will need to be winterized. Checking your local weather forecast can help you determine when it is necessary to take action. Winterizing your sprinkler system is a quick and relatively simple process. It will save you money in the long run by protecting your system from damage caused by freezing temperatures.

Do you need to drain sprinkler system for freeze?

No, you do not need to drain your sprinkler system in order to protect it from freezing temperatures. Winterizing your sprinkler system involves adding anti-freeze to the irrigation lines. This will keep the water in your system from freezing and causing damage.

What type of anti-freeze should I use for my sprinkler system?

There are a variety of different types of anti-freeze available on the market. When choosing an anti-freeze for your sprinkler system, be sure to select one that is specifically designed for this purpose. Using a non-recommended product can cause damage to your system.

How much anti-freeze do I need to add?

The amount of anti-freeze you will need depends on the size of your sprinkler system.


There are many ways to winterize your sprinkler system. The method that you employ will completely depend on the particular system that you have installed. But if you’re not sure what to do, there’s no harm in hiring a professional to evaluate it and provide options for you. Your yard may need certain specific patches that only a professional can fix.