How to winterize sprinkler system without air compressor

How to winterize sprinkler system without air compressor

To keep our lawn looking great, most of us rely on sprinklers. However, when autumn rolls along, there’s always a need to empty and insulate them. This way, they stay reliable until the next spring. Failing to winterize your sprinkler system may cause costly damage hence the need to winterize them. So, how to winterize sprinkler system without air compressor is our new article!

There’re multiple types of sprinkler systems in the market today. The most common methods of releasing water from a sprinkler system include using an air compressor or draining it from the valves. We will focus more on the draining method. Draining water from your sprinkler system is smart enough as it saves you from the dire consequences of leaving even the least amount of water in your pipes. Most sprinkler system manufacturers highly recommend users to adhere to both procedures every fall before temperatures dip to 300 F.

Draining your sprinkler system entirely depends on the type of drain valve your system utilizes. It can either be manual, which will require you to pull a few levers to get things moving, or automatic. Most folks identify manual-draining systems by checking if the sprinkler heads have check valves on them. By knowing the type of system you have, it becomes effortless to accomplish almost all the necessary winterization. However, you can keep your owner’s manual nearby just in case you need some reference.

Useful steps you can use to winterize your sprinkler system

These less tedious steps will help you winterize your sprinkler system like a pro. As we all know, safety is paramount hence, you’ll need safety goggles, foam pipe covers, pliers, and foam insulating tape. With these tools and materials, you’ll be good to go. Let’s now jump into our first step!

Turning off the main water supply and back-flow preventer if present

While it seems pretty obvious, turning off the main water supply is quite useful. It’s mostly found near your water meter. For sprinkler systems with a manual drain valve, you’ll need to shut off the valves on the backflow preventer. A backflow preventer prevents pressurized, potentially contaminated water from mixing with the potable water supply and is typically located near the water main, from which the sprinkler water is drawn. For homeowners not using potable water for irrigation, their sprinkler may not have a backflow device. If it does, you can turn it off via two shut-off handles. It’s as simple as turning the rectangular handles clockwise one-quarter to one-half turn. If the valves are too tight, use your pliers.

  • Draining even the least amount of water in the irrigation system 

Depending on the type of drain valve you have, your next move should be draining even the least amount of water in the irrigation system. For sprinklers systems that use an automatic drain valve, the spring-loaded drain valve will open every time the system shuts off since there will be little to no pressure running through the lines to press and close the valves. This type of draining doesn’t release the water trapped inside the valves themselves. However, you can locate the solenoid and loosen it by hand so that air can flow inside the system. Once you do this, water will automatically drain out from the system’s mainline.

When it comes to sprinkler systems that use manual drain valves, one needs to locate the valve at the lowest point on the system’s mainline. When doing this, you need to wear protective goggles since water can be under pressure and can open valves before they depressurize. Turn off the main line shut-off valve and open one of the control valves on the system to depressurize the sprinkler system mainline. Once done, you can slowly open the manual drain valve, allowing it to drain fully. Once all the water is drained, you can now close each manual drain valve.

  • Open drain valves 

When you’re done emptying your sprinkler system, ensure that there’s no water remaining around the valves. Sprinkler systems with a “boiler drain valve” or a “stop and waste valve,” will turn off the local water supply, allowing the pipe to drain. Ensure you locate the valve’s drain cap and open it to drain even the least amount of water left between the backflow device or irrigation system.

  • If you’re unsure of the process, you may opt for a pro

If you have well-installed new sprinklers, there’s a possibility that gravity will guide nearly all the water out after relieving the pressure from the mainline. It can be quite challenging to know for certain that there’s no water left behind. As such, it’s highly recommended that you call a professional to take a further precaution that will release any last water in the sprinkler system.

  • Insulating system components located above the ground

Experts recommend that system components exposed above ground should be insulated. You can get foam pipe covers, foam insulation tape, and other winterizing protection from your local hardware to perform the process. Ensure you follow all package instructions to protect your system against freezing or cracking. More importantly, don’t block drainage ports or valves.

  • Program your sprinkler system not to run during winter

Sprinkler systems with a timer can be shut off during the winter season. However, ensure it’s reprogrammed during spring. If your system has a “rain mode” option, it’s even better as it prevents the system from watering at all during winter. Similarly, it stops the sprinkler without turning off the timer when there’s precipitation during the normal season. With the rain mode option, you can avoid shutting the system off and losing the programmed settings. You don’t have o worry about additional energy costs since it uses a small amount of energy.

  •  Consult the user manual for recommendations specified for your sprinkler system

Lastly, you must consult the user manual since some systems require pipes to be capped during the winter and valves stored outside.

You are free to check on our article on the best air compressor for sprinkler blowout!

Frequently asked questions on How to winterize sprinkler system without air compressor

When can I winterize my sprinkler system?

The best time to winterize your sprinkler system is when temperatures are below or around 50°f.

Why must I winterize my sprinkler system?

There’re several reasons why you should winterize your sprinkler system. One common reason is that it keeps your lawn irrigation system ready for summer, helping you save on the costs of sprinkler repair. Winterizing your system helps you avoid frozen pipes, which can burst and cause harm to someone. Similarly, it helps keep your investment functional.


Who doesn’t love keeping their investments functional? We all do. If you follow every step shared above, you’ll have protected your investment. Kindly share with us your tricks and comments concerning your sprinkler system. Thanks for your time. I wish you now know how to winterize sprinkler system without air compressor.

Goodbye for now!