How to Drain the Sprinkler System: A Step-by-Step Guide to Winterize Your Lawn

As the seasons change, it’s essential to prepare your sprinkler system properly to ensure it remains in excellent shape for the next season. Nobody likes to discover that their system has been damaged by freezing over the winter because they forgot to take care of it before the cold hit. Draining your sprinkler system is one of the essential maintenance procedures that you should undertake before winter.

Although it may sound intimidating at first, no need to worry; once you learn how to do it, it’s simple. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps on how to drain your sprinkler system, so you can be confident that it will remain in good condition for the season ahead.

Gather the Necessary Tools

Before draining your sprinkler system, you will need to gather the necessary tools to prevent any damage or mishaps. Firstly, you will require a compressor, preferably one with a CFM rating of at least 80. This will provide sufficient air pressure needed to flush out the water from the pipes.

Make sure to also have a pressure regulator and backflow preventer to regulate the compressed air’s pressure and prevent any contamination. Additionally, you will need a garden hose to connect the compressor to the main line and a bucket to collect any debris that may exit the system. Finally, grab some wrenches to remove any visible outlet plugs on the sprinklers and control valves.

By having all the necessary tools ready, you can ensure a smooth and efficient draining process.

Examples: Screwdriver, Air compressor, Adjustable wrench

When you’re ready to tackle a DIY project, it’s essential to gather the necessary tools so that you can get the job done smoothly and efficiently. Having the right tools can make all the difference in the world, and there are a few essential items that every DIYer should have in their toolkit. For example, a screwdriver is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of tasks, from tightening screws to prying open paint cans.

An air compressor can be incredibly helpful for powering pneumatic tools like nail guns and paint sprayers, while an adjustable wrench is great for tightening nuts and bolts. By having these essential tools, you’ll be equipped to handle a wide range of DIY projects. So take the time to gather the necessary tools before you start your project, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful DIY experience.

how to drain the sprinkler system

Shut off the Water Supply

When it comes to draining your sprinkler system, the first step is shutting off the water supply. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to avoid any potential for water damage or leftover water in the pipes. Locate the main shut-off valve for your sprinkler system and turn it off.

This will prevent any water from flowing into the pipes and allow you to safely drain the system without any issues. Make sure to turn off any other valves on the system, such as those located near the backflow preventer or pressure regulator. By doing so, you can avoid any unwanted water pressure in the pipes, which could potentially damage the system or cause a leak.

Overall, shutting off your water supply is an essential first step in properly draining your sprinkler system.

Examples: locate the main valve, turn it off clockwise

Shutting off the water supply can seem like a daunting and confusing task, but it’s essential in certain situations. Whether you’re dealing with a burst pipe, a leaky faucet, or need to make repairs to your plumbing system, locating and turning off the main valve is crucial. To find the main valve, start by looking near your water meter or where the pipe enters your home.

It’s usually a handle that can be turned clockwise to shut off the water completely. Remember that turning it off may affect water supply to your entire home, so plan accordingly. Another important thing to keep in mind is that the valve may require a bit of force to turn, so don’t be afraid to use a wrench or pliers if necessary.

Once you’ve successfully turned off the main valve, take the necessary steps to fix the issue at hand, whether it’s calling a plumber or making the repairs yourself. By taking the time to shut off the water supply, you’re protecting your home from potential damage and ensuring that your plumbing system stays in top condition.

Open All Drain Valves

If you’re wondering how to drain your sprinkler system for winterizing or maintenance, the first step is to turn off your water supply. Then, you need to locate all the drain valves in your system. They are usually located at the low points of your pipes.

Once you’ve found them, open them all. This will allow the water to drain from the system and prevent any potential damage that could be caused by freezing temperatures. Keep in mind that some sprinkler systems may have additional valves, so make sure to turn off those as well.

Once you’ve completed this step, you can then use an air compressor to blow out any remaining water from the system. This process will ensure your sprinkler system is properly drained and protected for the winter season.

Examples: manually turn the valves counterclockwise

One crucial step in preparing your irrigation system for winter is to open all drain valves. This ensures that excess water is properly drained from the system, preventing any potential damage from freezing temperatures. One way to do this is by manually turning the valves counterclockwise, which releases any trapped water.

It’s important to note that not all valves may be visible, so it’s essential to consult your system manual or hire a professional to ensure all valves are properly opened. Taking the time to open all drain valves can save you from costly repairs and ensure that your irrigation system is ready for the winter season. So, don’t forget to add this task to your winterization checklist!

Detach the Sprinkler System

Draining your sprinkler system is essential before winter arrives to prevent any damage from the freezing temperatures. The process can be straightforward if you follow the right steps. First and foremost, you need to detach the sprinkler system from the main water supply.

Locate the shutoff valve, usually located inside the house or basement, and turn it off. Then, proceed to turn off the control valve on the sprinkler system to stop any water flow. Next, open the drain valves and let the water flow out of the pipes.

You can also use compressed air to remove any remaining water inside the pipes after draining. It’s crucial to ensure all the water is drained to prevent any potential damage from freezing temperatures. Once you’ve completed the process, make sure to store any sprinkler components in a dry, warm place until spring arrives.

Following these simple steps will ensure your sprinkler system stays safe during the winter months.

Examples: use a wrench to remove the backflow preventer or vacuum breaker

If you want to avoid costly repairs due to freeze damage, it’s important to detach your sprinkler system before winter sets in. One crucial step in the process is removing the backflow preventer or vacuum breaker. To do this, you’ll need a wrench to loosen the bolts on either side of the device.

Once you’ve detached the backflow preventer, inspect it for damage and replace it if necessary. Then, simply disconnect the remaining pipes from the irrigation system and drain any remaining water from the lines. If you’re not comfortable doing this on your own, don’t hesitate to call a professional to help you out.

By taking the necessary precautions to winterize your sprinkler system now, you’ll save yourself a headache and a lot of money down the road.

Blow Out the Water

If you’re a homeowner with a sprinkler system, then you probably know that proper winterization is key to keeping it working optimally. One crucial step in this process is draining the system of any remaining water, which can cause pipes to freeze and burst in cold weather. To do this, you’ll first need to shut off the water supply to the system, either at the main valve or at the backflow preventer.

Next, open all the valves on the sprinkler heads and let the water drain out. To ensure that all the water is removed, you may need to use an air compressor to blow out any remaining water in the pipes. This process, known as “blowing out the water,” can be tricky, so it’s best to call in a professional if you’re unsure of what to do.

By taking the time to winterize your sprinkler system properly, you can avoid costly repairs and keep your lawn looking its best year-round.

Examples: attach the air compressor, slowly increase the PSI to force out water

Blowing out the water from your pipes is an essential step to protect them during the winter months. If water remains in the pipes during freezing temperatures, it can cause them to burst and lead to costly damages. Luckily, blowing out the water is a straightforward process that can be done with the help of an air compressor.

First, attach the air compressor to the main plumbing line and slowly increase the PSI to force out the water. It is important to start with a low PSI and gradually increase it to avoid damaging the pipes. Once the water has been completely blown out, you can turn off the air compressor and remove it from the plumbing.

It is also recommended to open all the faucets and let them run until there is no more water coming out. By taking the time to blow out the water from your pipes, you can avoid costly repairs and ensure that your plumbing system stays in good condition throughout the winter season.

Check for Remaining Water

Once you’ve turned off the main water supply, you’ll need to check for any remaining water in your sprinkler system before continuing with the draining process. This is important to prevent any potential damage caused by freezing temperatures if the remaining water freezes and expands. One way to check for remaining water is by opening the manual drain valves that should be located at the base of the sprinkler system.

Let the water flow out until it stops completely. Another technique is to use compressed air to blow out any remaining water in the pipes. You can do this by connecting an air compressor to the system through the blow-out point, such as a quick coupling or a hose bib.

By ensuring that there’s no water left in your system, you can prevent any costly repairs by avoiding any potential damage caused by frozen water.

Examples: use a screwdriver to check for water in the valve boxes

When it comes to maintaining your sprinkler system, ensuring that there’s no remaining water in the valve boxes is crucial. It’s essential to avoid freezing and damage to the valves during the colder months. Luckily, checking for any remaining water in the valve boxes is quite simple, and you don’t need any specialized equipment to do it.

One way to do this is to use a screwdriver, inserting it into the holes in the valve box and feeling for any water. If you sense any moisture, it means there’s still water left to drain out. That’s when you’ll need to activate each zone through the controller and let it run for a few minutes until no further water comes out.

Don’t overlook this step as it’s easy to think that the sprinkler system has successfully drained out all the water. Doing this simple check will ensure that all water has been removed and helps avoid any costly repairs later on. Also, remember to keep an eye on any potential signs of water damage, such as dampness or mold, as that could signal that there’s still water or other issues present.

By taking a few minutes to check for any remaining water, you can extend the life of your sprinkler system and ultimately save yourself some headaches down the road.

Re-Attach the Sprinkler System

Draining your sprinkler system properly is important, but re-attaching it is equally crucial. Once you have flushed out all of the water and removed the drain valve, it’s time to re-attach your sprinkler system. First, turn off the main water supply and remove the caps on the sprinkler heads.

Then, re-attach any pipes or fittings that were disconnected before draining. Make sure you use Teflon tape to seal any threaded connections. Next, slowly turn on the water supply and check for any leaks or issues with the system.

It’s also a good idea to run each zone for a few minutes to flush out any remaining water or debris. By following these steps, you can ensure that your sprinkler system will work effectively and efficiently. So don’t forget to re-attach your sprinkler system after draining it to avoid any future problems with your lawn or garden.

Examples: reattach the backflow preventer or vacuum breaker, tighten with a wrench

If you’re experiencing issues with your sprinkler system, it may be time to re-attach the backflow preventer or vacuum breaker. These parts are designed to keep contaminants from the sprinkler water source out of your home’s drinking water supply. To re-attach them, you’ll need a wrench to tighten the bolts securely.

If you’re not sure how to do this, it’s always best to contact a professional to ensure that your sprinkler system is working correctly. Burst pipes or malfunctioning sprinklers can cause a lot of damage, and it’s essential to fix the issues before they become more costly. Remember, prevention is always better than cure.

So, invest in your sprinkler system by hiring a professional to take care of any issues before they spiral out of control. This will ensure that your system is in top condition and fully-functional, ready to irrigate your lawn and keep it looking fantastic all year round.

Turn the Water Supply Back On

Now that you’ve successfully drained your sprinkler system, it’s time to turn the water supply back on. Before doing so, ensure that all the drainage points are closed properly and there are no leaks. Turn on the main water valve and let the water run for a minute or two.

This will flush out any debris that might have settled in the pipes during the draining process. After this, turn on each zone of the system and check if the sprinklers are working correctly. You can also check for leaks or damaged sprinkler heads while the system is on.

Be sure to monitor the system regularly to ensure it’s functioning correctly, and you won’t have to worry about it during the next season. Overall, draining a sprinkler system may seem like a daunting task at first, but if done correctly, can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Examples: turn the main valve counterclockwise

If you’re ready to turn your water supply back on after shutting it off, it’s important to remember to turn the main valve counterclockwise. This may vary depending on your specific plumbing system, but generally, you’ll need to turn the valve to the left to reopen your water supply. It’s always a good idea to double-check that the valve is fully open, as any residual pressure in the system could cause leaks or other issues.

If you’re having difficulty turning the valve, it may be helpful to use a wrench or pliers to get a better grip. Once the water supply is back on, be sure to check all fixtures and appliances that use water to make sure they’re functioning properly. This includes faucets, showers, toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers.

If you notice any leaks or other problems, turn off the water supply and contact a plumber for assistance. Overall, with a little caution and attention to detail, turning the water supply back on should be a simple and stress-free task.

Test Your Sprinkler System

It’s important to regularly test and maintain your sprinkler system, especially before colder weather approaches. One key aspect of this is properly draining the sprinkler system. When water freezes in the sprinkler lines, it can cause serious damage and costly repairs.

To begin draining your system, turn off the water supply and shut off the backflow preventer valve. Open all the drain valves and allow the water to empty out of the system. You can also use an air compressor to blow out any remaining water in the pipes.

Make sure to inspect your sprinkler heads and replace any that may be damaged or broken. By taking these steps, you’ll be able to protect your sprinkler system and ensure it’s ready to go when warmer weather arrives.

Examples: run your system for a few minutes to ensure proper functionality

When it comes to maintaining your sprinkler system, it’s important to ensure that it’s working correctly to prevent any potential damage to your lawn or garden. One of the best ways to do this is by testing your system to ensure proper functionality. This simple task can save you a lot of trouble down the road.

To test your system, turn it on and let it run for a few minutes. Make sure that all the sprinkler heads are popping up correctly and that there are no leaks. You should also check the water pressure to make sure that it’s not too high, which can cause damage.

By taking the time to test your system, you’ll be able to catch any potential issues before they become major problems and ensure that your lawn stays healthy and beautiful. So, take the time to give your sprinkler system a quick test, and you’ll be rewarded with a lush, green lawn all season long.


In conclusion, draining your sprinkler system is a necessary evil to avoid freezing and costly damages. It’s like putting your winter coat on before heading out into the chilly air – it may be a hassle, but it’ll save you from a lot of discomfort later on. So grab your tools, get your drains ready, and bid farewell to your sprinklers until next spring.

Your lawn may miss the irrigation, but your wallet will thank you for the preventative measures. Stay dry, my friends!”


What is the purpose of draining a sprinkler system?
Draining a sprinkler system is necessary to prevent water from freezing inside the pipes during colder months which can cause damage to the system.

When should I drain my sprinkler system?
It is recommended to drain your sprinkler system before the first freeze of the season.

How do I know if my sprinkler system needs to be drained?
If you live in an area where winter temperatures drop below freezing, it is recommended to annually drain your sprinkler system.

Do I need any special tools to drain my sprinkler system?
No, draining your sprinkler system simply requires opening all drain valves and allowing water to flow out.

How long does it take to drain a sprinkler system?
Depending on the size of your system, draining a sprinkler system can take several hours.

Can I drain my sprinkler system myself or do I need to hire a professional?
Depending on your level of experience and knowledge, you can drain your sprinkler system yourself. If you are unsure, it is best to hire a professional.

What happens if I don’t drain my sprinkler system?
If you do not drain your sprinkler system, water can freeze inside the pipes causing damage to the system which can be costly to repair.

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