Winterize Sprinkler Systems

If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, you'll be smart to prepare for winter and reduce your risk of freeze damage. Winter preparation is even more vital if you live in an area where the frost level will reach down to the pipe level. Here are some tips on winterizing the two basic types of sprinkler system valves: manual and automatic. 

Automatic Valves

Automatic valves will release excess water from the pipes if water pressure falls below a certain level. To winterize, simply:

  1.  Shut off the water flow from the main valve.
  2.  Run one of the sprinkler heads to drain water from the system.

If the system has check valves (which allow water to flow only away from the main valve) you may need to lift each individual sprinkler head individually to fully drain the system. It is a good idea to check if you need to drain water from backflow preventer and shut off valve. Once drained, close all the valves and sprinkler heads. You’re done!

Manual valves

Manual valves need a little extra care to ensure water is drained out. To do this:

  1.  Close the main water supply valve.
  2.  Locate the valves at the far ends and lowest points in your system.
  3.  Open these valves to drain water out of the system.
  4.  Open your backflow device and drain this, as well.

Remember to close the valves again once the system is completely drained. You’re ready for winter!

Compressed air method

This is an effective draining method and one that most professionals employ. Using compressed air, water is cleared out of the lines through the sprinkler heads. This method is usually recommended for professionals. If it is not performed carefully, it can be a safety hazard, as well as cause potential damage to your system. If you do use this method, it is best to learn the “how to” from a professional and/or get specific instructions from your sprinkler system manufacturer.


Always reference the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure your winterizing process is in-line with their recommendations. Happy winterizing!