Winterizing Your Sprinkler System
What is Winterizing Your System?
When the weather gets below freezing, water expands as it turns to ice. This means that if you have any pipes that are full of water and those same pipes freeze, you are more than likely going to experience a busted pipe! Winterizing your system is when you turn off the water supply to the sprinkler system and then drain the rest of the left over water from the entire system to ensure it's completely empty.
How to Winterize Your System
SHUT OFF OUTDOOR WATER
Our first step is to shut off your outdoor water supply to prevent water from accidentally running into the system. The shutoff (double check) valve is typically located near the main water meter or water well. If your sprinkler system has a valve to prevent backflow, be sure to shut these off, too.
After you’ve shut off the valves, wrap them with foam insulation tape and a plastic bag to prevent damage from snow, sleet and frigid temperatures.
TURN THE TIMER OFF
If your sprinkler system runs on a timer or controller, your next step is to shut that off. This part of sprinkler winterization is as easy as unplugging the transformer or pushing the off button (if there is one). Keep in mind that you’ll need to reprogram your system in the spring after unplugging it.
Many of today’s sprinkler systems have a rain mode that stops the sprinkler from running if there’s rain in the forecast. If your system has this function, setting your sprinkler to rain mode works in place of turning it off. Plus, you won’t have to recalibrate your system in the spring if you put it in rain mode.
DRAIN THE WATER
Next you’ll need to drain all existing water from the system. This is the most time-consuming step, but failing to do it leads to the pipes freezing and bursting in the winter. You can either drain your system manually or automatically, but I recommend the automatic (easy) way:
Manual: Manually drain your system by slowly opening the solenoids on the valves. Let the water run out of the valves one at a time, and then close them when you’re finished. If you can't find your valves in the ground, go to the the "automatic" step.
Automatic: Turn your controller back on and run each station for 1 minutes each. This will release any excess water that may be in the pipes or in the valves.