As the winter season approaches, it’s crucial to take the necessary steps to protect your sprinkler system from freezing temperatures. Winterizing your sprinkler system helps prevent costly damage and ensures its proper functionality when spring arrives. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of winterizing your sprinkler system, providing step-by-step instructions and helpful tips.

Preparations for Winterizing

Before you begin the winterization process, make sure you have the following tools and materials on hand:

  • Air compressor (if using the blow out method)
  • Drain valves (manual or automatic)
  • Insulation materials (such as foam pipe insulation)
  • Plastic bags and zip ties for covering above-ground components

How to Winterize Sprinkler System?

Draining the Sprinkler System

To drain the sprinkler system, follow these steps:

Using Manual Drain Valves:

  • Locate the manual drain valves: These valves are typically located at the lowest points in the system, such as the end of each irrigation line.
  • Open the drain valves: Turn the valves counterclockwise to open them fully. This allows the water to escape from the pipes and prevent freezing.
  • Allow the water to drain completely: It’s essential to wait until all water has drained from the system before moving on to the next valve. This step ensures that there is no water left in the pipes that could freeze and cause damage.


Using Automatic Drain Valves:

  • Identify the location of automatic drain valves: Automatic drain valves are usually located near the sprinkler heads or at the lowest points of the system.
  • Activate the automatic drain valves: Turn on the sprinkler system briefly to allow the automatic drain valves to open and drain water automatically. This method is more convenient and ensures thorough draining.
  • Verify that water is drained completely: After activating the automatic drain valves, visually inspect each valve to ensure that no water is left in the system.
  • Clearing the Backflow Preventer:
  • Shut off the valves leading to the backflow preventer: Close the valves on both sides of the backflow preventer to isolate it from the rest of the system.
  • Open the test cocks to release pressure: Open the test cocks on the backflow preventer to allow any remaining water to escape. This step helps prevent any residual water from freezing and damaging the preventer.
  • Drain any remaining water from the backflow preventer: Use a sponge or cloth to soak up any residual water from the backflow preventer. It’s crucial to ensure that the preventer is completely dry to prevent freezing.

Blow Out Method (Optional):

If you prefer the blow out method, consider hiring a professional or follow these steps carefully:

Understanding the blow out method: The blow out method involves using an air compressor to remove all water from the system.

Hiring a professional or using an air compressor: If you’re not experienced with this method, it’s recommended to hire a professional. They have the expertise and equipment to ensure proper air pressure and prevent damage to the system. However, if you choose to do it yourself, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the water supply to the sprinkler system.
  • Attach the air compressor to the mainline: Connect the air compressor to the mainline using an appropriate fitting.
  • Open one zone at a time: Begin by opening one zone at a time, allowing compressed air to blow out the water. Start with the zone furthest from the mainline and work your way back.
  • Monitor the process: While blowing out each zone, monitor the process to ensure that all water is expelled. The air coming out of the sprinkler heads should be dry, indicating that no water remains.

Protecting the Sprinkler System:

After draining the system, take these steps to provide additional protection:

Insulating Exposed Pipes:

Wrap foam pipe insulation around any exposed pipes to prevent freezing. Focus on areas that are above ground or vulnerable to cold temperatures. Secure the insulation with duct tape or zip ties.

Wrapping the Backflow Preventer:

Use insulation material or a backflow preventer cover to shield the backflow preventer from freezing temperatures. This step helps maintain the integrity of the preventer and prevents damage.

Covering Above-Ground Components:

Place plastic bags over above-ground components, such as valves and control panels, and secure them with zip ties. This extra layer of protection helps keep moisture and ice away from these critical parts of the system.



Should I hire a professional to winterize my sprinkler system?

Hiring a professional ensures that the process is done correctly and efficiently. They have the experience, tools, and knowledge to winterize your system effectively. However, if you are confident in your abilities and have the necessary equipment, you can choose to do it yourself.

Can I use an air compressor to blow out my sprinkler system myself?

Using an air compressor to blow out your sprinkler system requires caution and proper knowledge. If you have experience working with air compressors and understand the specific pressure requirements for your system, you can attempt it yourself. However, it’s recommended to hire a professional to ensure the process is done correctly and without causing damage to the system.

What if I don’t have drain valves in my system?

If your system does not have drain valves, it may require a different winterization method. Contact a professional irrigation service to explore alternative solutions based on your specific system setup.

Is it necessary to insulate the pipes if the system is already drained?

Insulating the pipes is an additional precautionary measure that provides extra protection against freezing temperatures. Even if the system is drained, insulation helps prevent any residual moisture from freezing inside the pipes and causing damage.


Winterizing your sprinkler system is essential for protecting it from freezing temperatures and potential damage during the winter months. By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure that your sprinkler system is properly drained and safeguarded against the harsh winter conditions. Remember to consult with professionals or local irrigation experts if you have any specific concerns or questions regarding your sprinkler system. With proper winterization, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy a fully functional and efficient irrigation system when spring arrives.