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6 Tips for Shutting Down Sprinkler System for Winter in Eau Claire, WI & Minneapolis


Once that crisp fall air moves in, you’re thinking about all the great cold weather stuff.

Crackling fires. Cozy blankets. Simmering cocoa. Exploding water pipes.

You can probably do without that last one. All the more reason to think about it.

Shutting down your sprinkler system is a crucial task before the first deep freeze of the season.

How to winterize your sprinkler system?

Grab your jacket and follow these tips:

1. Get That Water Out!

This tip is number one for good reason, and we added the exclamation point for extra oomph.

You absolutely must get the water out of your pipes, valves, and heads before the first deep freeze.

If water freezes and expands, things break, and that means a costly repair.

Removing water from an Irrigation system

2. Let’s Talk About Your Inadequate Air Compressor (No Offense)

We know what you’re thinking. “I have an air compressor. I could just do this job myself.”

No, you really shouldn’t.

Here’s why:

Your workshop or garage air compressor probably has a 100-160 psi. That’s high pressure, but not much volume.

For shutting down your sprinkler system, you need a wall of air to get that water out. It’s not about the pressure (PSI). It’s about the volume of air (CFM).

How is our air compressor different?

For one thing, we pull it on a trailer behind a truck. It has a big diesel engine and produces massive quantities of air.

But not high pressure. We run between 60-80 psi.

Most components of your irrigation system are only rated to handle 100 psi. If you use 120 psi you can blow them apart. Heads come flying off. Pipes burst. It’s kind of a spectacle and dangerous.

If you leave your compressor on too long, really trying to get all the water out, it can melt the gears in your irrigation heads.

This is a job best left to the pros. There’s too much at stake.

3. Winterize Your Sprinkler System: Don’t Forget That Lake Pump

If you use a lake pump for your sprinkler system, it has to be winterized so it doesn’t break from winter’s freezing temperatures.

Read Our Guide to Irrigation Installation & Maintenance
Add RV antifreeze to protect it, and don’t forget to cover up the ends of the pipes so critters don’t crawl in and camp out.

Pro tip: when we’re shutting down a sprinkler system for winter, we remove the wiring from lake pumps, so they don’t accidentally get turned on.

Bonus pro tip: Take your intake out of the lake or river and store it for the winter. Spring flooding could carry it away.

4. Backflow Prep

Freezing water in the backflow device will damage the internal components and can crack the body.

If all the water isn’t out of your backflow device, you may need a plumber in the spring.

lawn irrigation valves
Every backflow is different and requires a different procedure to winterize it. If your instruction manual gives you more headache than help, this is a great reason to hire a professional irrigation company to do it for you.

We love a good challenge.

5. Don’t Forget Stuff Inside Your House

If you have a valve inside the house, make sure it’s completely shut off — not even a trickle of water.


6. Shutting Down Your Sprinkler System Yourself Doesn’t Save That Much Money

Trying to save money by winterizing your sprinkler system DIY style?

That’s admirable.

You might “save” just under a hundred bucks.

Not too shabby, right?

But if you don’t do all the steps of shutting down your sprinkler system just right, it could cost you a lot more in repairs.

The average cost of repairs we do because of improper winterization is $250 to $1,500.

If your pump didn’t get winterized right, that’s $1,500. (Insert “ka-ching” sound here.)

If you don’t get all the water out of the valves, it costs $300 to $500 per box to repair them.
Rainmaster irrigation team repairing a broken irrigation headEvery one of our irrigation packages includes shutting down your sprinkler system for winter. That’s how important it is.

We’ll follow all the steps. You relax and toss another log on the fire.

Ready to Winterize Your Sprinkler System? Trust RainMaster

When you’re shutting down your sprinkler system for winter, every single step counts.

Let us make it easy for you.

Our irrigation packages include winterization and start at just $179 a year. Every visit is planned to optimize the performance of your irrigation system, reduce water usage, and promote a healthier landscape.

Ready to rest easy for the winter, knowing your sprinkler system is in expert hands? Request a quote today! We’ll review your options together so you can make a confident decision. Then, you can finally enjoy your well-watered lawn and stop worrying about it.

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Topics: Irrigation

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