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Winterize Your Sprinkler System

The aftermath of frequent visits from Jack Frost can be devastating to your lawn. Most likely, your yard will bounce back in the spring even if you didn’t prepare. But if you have a sprinkler system, the pipes could burst, and ruin your lawn.

Winterizing your sprinkler system – removing water from the pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads – is the best way to protect your irrigation from damage this winter. While some sprinkler systems drain automatically, many require opening the valves to release the water. Check the instructions that came with your irrigation equipment or call the installers if you’re unsure if your system drains automatically.

Grab your tools, the installation manual, and wear eye protection if you choose to perform a manual drain:

  • Locate the manual drain valves situated at the lowest points in the sprinkler system, which is where water collects when the system is shut off.
  • Close the main valve to turn off the water supply.
  • Open all the manual drain valves for each zone in the system, and leave them open for a few days so that all the water drains from the pipes and sprinkler heads.
  • Open drain valves located upstream of each zone valve to dump water from the main line.
  • Lift each sprinkler head to drain out any residual water.
  • Close all of the drain pipes.

Consult a professional lawn care specialist if you’re not comfortable winterizing the irrigation system.

Removing water from an automatic drain sprinkler system is a much easier task. The installation guide will help locate the valves:

  • Close the main valve on the sprinkler system to turn off the water supply. The water will automatically drain as the system loses pressure.
  • Remove water trapped between the main valve and backflow by opening the main cap.
  • Remove any residual water by lifting each sprinkler head.

Compressed air is another method used in winterization of irrigation systems. However, this procedure is best left to professionals. It is easy to damage the pipes by using too much air pressure.

Damage to your irrigation system is costly to fix. Repairs may require digging up the yard to locate the problem. Proper maintenance in the fall prevents heartache over broken valves, ruined seals and cracked pipes in the spring.