Shutting Down and Draining Your Sprinkler System

blowing out sprinklers

Should I blow out my system or simply drain it?

I do not offer blowing out sprinkler systems through my business. I live in an area where the frost depth is 18". In an area such as mine, it is unlikely that you will need to blow out your sprinkler system for winterizing as long as it is properly installed and drained. That being said, the benefit to blowing out a sprinkler system is that it adds an extra layer of insurance against freezing. I always recommend it for commercial systems, but rarely for residential systems. Your area may be different. My advice is, if blowing out sprinkler systems is a standard procedure where you live, then you should probably have a professional winterize the system for you.

stop and waste access

Locate your stop and waste or shut off valve. These are three examples of stop and wastes or shut off valves.

stop and waste access

This is the access point for a stop and waste at this residence.

ball valve

Not all systems have a stop and waste. This is a shut off valve in a basement.

ball valve

Example, this is a regular ball valve that is located in the crawl space of a home.

turning off stop and waste

Start by shutting the water down to the sprinkler system. Turn the water off by twisting / turning the valve in a clockwise direction. Note, a stop and waste only turns 1/4 turn.

backflow preventer

If there is a backflow on the property, you will need to drain the water from it. Each backflow is different, So the procedure may change for your system. Turn all the shut off valves halfway between open and closed, about 1/8 turn.

backflow preventer draining

Open all the test cocks on the backflow to allow it to drain fully. You will likely need a flat blade screwdriver to turn the test cocks (little ball valves).

hose bib

Open any hose bibs or hydrants that are connected to the sprinkler system.

sprinkler valve box

Locate the sprinkler valves / sprinkler boxes on the property.

sprinkler valves

Set all the valves on the property to the open position. This is done by turning the solenoid (Yellow arrow) and the bleed valve (Red arrow) counterclockwise 1/4 turn. This allows the valves to drain naturally.

sprinkler valves

On most valves, the center stem is actually a flow control. It is not intended to be used to turn the valve on or off. This is used to reduce or control the amount of water flow through the valve. There is no need to turn the flow control for winterizing.

sprinkler timer

Set the sprinkler timer to the off position. Each timer is different, you can unplug it if you want to save the power, but this may cause the batteries to drain. The batteries are used to save the memory when the power is off.

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