Automatic sprinkler systems help conserve water from runoff and evaporation that occurs when you water by hand, saving time and money. However, if your yard is subject to freezing temperatures, you’ll need to take steps to prevent leaks and breakages in pipes and valves.
Like most home maintenance projects, you can call a professional to help winterize your sprinkler system. But if you’re comfortable with the following steps, you may be able to tackle this quick home maintenance project on your own. Before you begin, check your sprinkler system’s manual for specific instructions.
1. Shut off the water supply
Turn off the sprinkler water supply at the main valve next to your water meter. “Once you’ve located the shut-off lever, turn this perpendicular and test the water supply to the system. If you accidentally select the main water supply lever, it’ll be pretty apparent because it will cut off your entire home’s water supply,” advises Angi’s List.
2. Turn off your timer
If your system is automatic, turn off the timer or put it in rain mode. Then, when the weather warms up, you can turn it back on or shut off rain mode, and your system’s settings should be saved.
3. Drain residual water
After you’ve shut off the water supply and turned off your timer, there are three methods to drain the water to winterize your sprinkler system, depending on the type of irrigation system.
- Manual draining
Home Depot describes these main steps if your system uses manual drainage: “Look for the manual valves at the ends and low points of the piping. Open all the valves and drain the water from the system. Make sure you also drain the backflow device.” In addition, you’ll want to remove, drain and store hoses used outdoors.
- Automatic draining
If your sprinkler system can automatically drain, it will begin emptying once your water pressure falls below a certain level. You may also activate automatic draining by running one sprinkler with the water supply turned off to clear excess water from the pipes.
- Blowout draining
The blowout method is the most challenging option and may be hazardous as it forces compressed air through your irrigation system. Consult a professional if you’re uncomfortable with this DIY approach, unaware of the proper safety precautions or unsure if your sprinkler system can handle the pressure.