Winterizing your irrigation system is a vital step in lawn maintenance. When sprinkler heads and pipes are not ready for cold weather, damage can occur. Here are a few problems to protect your system from.

What Are Some Irrigation System Issues in the Winter?

1. Cracked Sprinkler Heads

Water will freeze when temperatures drop, including liquid in sprinkler heads. The pressure that results can lead to cracks and damage as the ice expands. Draining the system and closing valves before the winter arrives can prevent this issue.

irrigationDamage can also occur during snow removal as shovels and plows move across your property. Replace heads by digging around the area. Unscrew the broken one and fit a new one in its place.

2. Damaged Pipes

Similar to broken heads, any water remaining in pipes will freeze and expand, leading to cracked pipes and leaks. Leaks can be major or minor, and you may need to enlist the help of an irrigation expert to diagnose and repair the problem.

Damage may also occur in the fittings. Before temperatures drop, make sure all water is removed by draining the valves or using the blowout method, which uses an air compressor to create pressure that pushes out the water left inside.

3. Broken Valves & Backflow Devices

Ice can damage valves and backflow devices when they’re not properly winterized. The expanding frozen water will crack and compromise components, leading to leaks, floods, no pressure, and even contamination.

The proper steps for winterizing a backflow device depends on the type installed. For a pressure vacuum breaker (PVB), the ball valves and test cocks should be left in a half-open position for the winter to keep them from trapping water. A reduced pressure (RP) device has two valves that need to be drained separately.

4. Electrical Troubles

Prevent electrical problems by shutting down your controller before winter begins, especially if you have an automatic timer. You can also use “rain mode” so that signals to the valves stop but your programming information remains.

This ensures the pump won’t start when it shouldn’t and will prevent overheating in electrical components. When turning the system back on, if one zone doesn’t seem to be working or the timer isn’t functioning properly, check that the controller is plugged in and that power is flowing.


If you need to winterize your irrigation system, contact in Maxum Irrigation in Waterford, CT. Their team of specialists offers expert advice, installation, and repair on sprinkler systems so that your landscape remains healthy. They’ll also prepare your property so that cold weather doesn’t wreak havoc on your pipes. Call (860) 525-7000 for an appointment, or learn more about their irrigation offerings online.