How To Winterize Your Sprinklers

Sprinkler systems are designed to keep your garden looking fresh throughout the spring and summer. However, if your system is not properly cared for during the winter months, it can malfunction and cease to work properly, or at all, once the temperature rises again. Thankfully, there are a number of steps that you can take to ensure that your sprinklers are able to withstand the demands of freezing weather and continue working once the plants begin to bloom again.

Turn Off the Water Supply

You should turn off the water supply to your sprinkler system well in advance of freezing weather arriving. Ensure that you turn it off at the main shut-off valve for the system, usually located near the shut-off valve for your entire home's water supply. If you can't find the shut-off valve, you may want to contact a plumber.

Drain the Pipes

Even after you've turned the water supply off, water is still sitting within the pipes of your plumbing system. If it's left there, it can freeze and burst the pipes during the winter. Some sprinkler systems have automatic drain valves, located next to the water shut-off. Simply turn these valves and allow them to sit for roughly an hour to drain all of the water out of your sprinkler systems. For older systems, or systems that simply do not have this valve, you should contact a plumber to blow out the pipes using an air compressor, as doing it yourself runs the risk of damaging or bursting the pipes.

Turn Off the Timer

You'll want to make sure that you turn off the timer to your sprinkler system as well. While a lack of water will help protect your sprinklers, if they turn on while there is no water inside of them, they run the risk of damaging themselves. Turn your timer to "rain mode," or disconnect them entirely from their power supply to ensure that your sprinklers are protected.

Protect Water Fixtures and Insulate Pipes

You should take steps to protect the rest of your outdoor plumbing system as well. Remove hose bibs from water fixtures, as any amount of water trapped within them can cause the pipes to burst, which can then lead to leaks within your home. Additionally, you should insulate any exterior plumbing, including sprinkler lines, using plumbing insulation which can be found at most hardware stores. Finally, remove any hoses or other attachments from your water fixtures and sprinkler system, and store them in a warm place to prevent cracking.