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It’s time to turn off and winterize your sprinklers

Fall trees

As October rolls in and the leaves begin to fall you don’t want to forget about your sprinkler irrigation system. Here are a few steps for making sure your irrigation system is good to go for the cold months and ready for next Spring.

1. Turn off the main valve. Locate the main line valve to your sprinkler irrigation system and turn it off. This may be a stop-and-waste valve located below ground in your yard, or may be a ball-valve located in your home or an irrigation box in your yard. It is normally located between the water meter and your home. Make sure the valve is closed tight to avoid leakage through the valve.

2. Open drains. If your system has been fitted with drains you can simply open them and allow the water to drain over time. Drains can be manual or automatic, once the system is off you should see water draining from them. Not all irrigation systems have drains, the following steps will help evacuate water in other ways. Leave the drains open to allow water to continue to escape throughout the winter. Just remember to close them when you start up your system in the Spring.

3. Run each irrigation section manually. Using your sprinkler controller, manually run each zone of the sprinkler system for at least 30 seconds. This will help push the water still in the lines out. Switch your sprinkler controller to the Off position once you’ve run each section.

4. Remove or drain your backflow preventer. If you have a backflow preventer, make sure you winterize it to keep it from freezing and breaking during the winter.

- Turn all of the small test cock valves ¼ of a turn using a flat head screwdriver to allow water to drain out. 

- Remove the backflow preventer if possible. This is the easiest way to protect it. Once removed, tip the backflow preventer each way to allow the remaining water to drain out of the main valves.

- Turn the two main valves ¼ turn after draining it.

- Wrap the backflow preventer in a towel or other insulated material. Do this whether your remove it or leave it in place. Even stored in your garage or basement it can be at risk for freezing.

5. Don't forget to remove the hose from your hose bib. Water left in a hose connected to the house can cause breaks when the temperature drops. remember to remove the hose and make sure the valve is closed tight to prevent  leaks.

Optional – Use an air compressor to help clear the water out of the irrigation system and backflow preventer. This should be done with caution as high pressure air can cause damage to parts in your irrigation system and backflow preventer. If done correctly sprinkler systems and backflow preventers can be winterized without the use of an air compressor.  Air should be applied slowly to each zone by attaching it before the valve. Never run air into the system without having at least one valve open.

A number of landscape and sprinkler irrigation companies also provide winterizing and startup services. Make sure you research several companies before hiring someone to ensure the best price and service.

Have questions? Contact the water division at (801)253-5230 or by emailing


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