The Yard Butler

What Happens to a Sprinkler System in the Winter? Reasons to Winterize Your Sprinkler Systems

winterize sprinkler system

You can always recognize the signs of the impending winter season. You’ll be enjoying the moderate spring and summer winter, but you know winter will eventually come. It’ll start to get and the lawn starts getting dusted with frost when you leave the house in the morning. The wind is turns bitter and whips around the leaves that always end up piling up despite having raked them last weekend. The good thing is that us Idahoans are well-versed in living in and preparing for the snow.

You start filling up your chore list with tasks that need to be done before the winter hits. Duties include sealing drafts in the walls, insulating pipes, and cleaning out the gutters. These are all essential tasks to ensure your home isn’t damaged by the unforgiving winter. 

Your lawn is covered with snow and ice for about five months a year. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about any yard work during the winter. You get all those chores out of the way before the first freeze. You think you’re done, but there is another task you need to add to your list.

You need to winterize your sprinkler system

But why is it essential to winterize your sprinkler systems? And what happens to your sprinkler system in the winter that makes it necessary to winterize it?

In this blog post, we will discuss what it means to winterize your sprinkler systems and why it is essential to do, as it is a necessary step to ensure its longevity, conserve water, save money in the long run, and provide peace of mind. 

Let’s break down the terms.

What exactly does it mean to winterize in general?

Winterizing is preparing for a drastic temperature change. It is part of the the necessary care of a sprinkler system. The sudden and severe difference in Eastern Idaho temperature causes sprinkler systems to become very fragile. In simple terms, winterizing sprinkler systems preserve the sprinkler system for the winter. 

Here is some interesting freezing information. Underground pipes will freeze when the ground is under the average cool temperature. If the temperature drops to 36 degrees and stays that temperature for an extended period of time, your lines could freeze. The problem isn’t the pipes themselves; the problem is the remaining water that gets stuck around curves and joints of the pipes. You could turn off your sprinklers yourself and hope for the best, but even then, draining your pipes only partially solves the problem. 

Any amount of water, no matter how small, could potentially ruin your sprinkler system. So having a company such as The Yard Butler, who is experienced with the winterizing process, can save you so much time and money. You don’t want to be that homeowner who discovers sprinkler issues once all the snow melts away. 

 To prevent this damage, a professional working in irrigation systems will drain the pipes and then do a service called “blowing out the pipes.” They drain all the water and then blow out the remaining water with industrially grade air compressors that send out pressured air. It is possible that you could try to “blow out the pipes” yourself by using your own air compressor. Though, it probably will not work as well as getting a professional to do it. 

 If there is still leftover water in the pipes (and there often is) when the first hard freeze hits, it will freeze in many different elements of a working irrigation system. It can then the crack and expand the values, lines, and sprinkler heads. This is called freeze damage. The threat of freeze damage increases when aspects of the irrigation system are above ground. The water freezes in the pipes after the first hard freeze. 

What is the difference between a hard freeze and a normal freeze?

The order of events when it comes to outside frozen water is: First, frost, which is just frozen dew. Second, a regular freeze. and then third, a hard freeze. 

Everyone knows what frost is. Tiny ice crystals will form overnight and melt once the day warms up. Frost has no lasting effects on your sprinkler lines. 

Your typical first freeze of winter is when the weather hits 32 degrees. It doesn’t stick and usually warms up for a couple of weeks before the actual freeze hits. It suddenly gets cold for a few days and then snows. 

Any irrigation preparation should happen before the first hard freeze of the winter. A hard freeze means when the average weather temperature drops under 28 degrees. You may recognize these terms if you are involved in planting or gardening. They are also used for times when it comes to the well-being of sprinkler systems.

You already know sprinkler systems are known as temperamental beasts that are more prone to shooting water high in the sky than providing for your lush green lawn. The systems get even more complicated when there are many different zones. This means more parts, pipes, and chances for issues to pop up.

Why should you hire a professional to winterize your irrigation system?

Now you know that you could hire a professional to do it. You may be asking yourself why you should go through the effort of hiring a professional to come and winterize your irrigation system. Every homeowner knows how finicky sprinkler systems are anyway. How much will it affect you?

Winterizing your sprinkler system can provide peace of mind, knowing you have taken proactive steps to protect your investment. By winterizing, you reduce the risk of freeze damage, water waste through pipe breaks, and the potential of replacing the whole system

Cracks in sprinkler lines due to freeze damage can lead to costly leaks, and broken sprinkler heads can waste water and money. You could lose up to 6,300 gallons of water and $280 over the short usage period that a sprinkler system is used in Eastern Idaho. That money that would have been going down the drain can now pay for the preventive measure of winterizing.

It also means that you have taken responsible measures to conserve water. Even though this is not an immediate concern for the homeowner, it still adds to the positive side. You contribute to conserving water resources and reducing your carbon footprint by preventing unnecessary water waste. This knowledge can provide a sense of satisfaction and the pride of being an environmentally conscious homeowner. 

Winterizing your sprinkler system will extend the longevity of the system. What is the average lifespan of a sprinkler system with and without winterizing? A quality sprinkler system will last 15-20 years if upkeep has been taken care of. 

Another issue may pop up if you do not winterize your sprinkler system. Oversaturation of still water can cause rust in your pipes. Rusted pipes can lead to even more significant issues. Issues such as repairing a broken line or replacing a damaged sprinkler head can add up quickly, significantly, if multiple components are affected. The water waste resulting from leaks or oversaturation can also increase your water bills, adding to the overall cost of choosing to neglect winterization. This is a proactive approach to being a responsible homeowner.

The world of winterizing is all new information, and you are still trying to figure out what to do. You now know that it is essential to get taken care of and can prevent future issues. You still need to understand the monetary side of this decision. Most homes with a lawn come with an irrigation system already built in. If this wasn’t the case for your home, you know how expensive it is to repair the complete system. Getting an entirely new sprinkler system can end up costing thousands of dollars. 

On the other hand, winterizing your sprinkler system costs about $50 to $200 compared to spending thousands of dollars on replacing and hiring labor. You must ask yourself that in a couple of years after not winterizing your system, the question is if it is worth paying thousands of dollars to replace your sprinkler system. It is a whole ordeal. Go through the trouble of scheduling someone to come over, have strange people doing labor on your property, and spend thousands of dollars. Typically, you can expect to pay $1,500 to $5,000 for a new system. The mindset is that since they are so costly to replace, you want to make them last as long as possible. 


The Yard Butler are experts when it comes to anything that comes to sprinkler systems. They design and install sprinkler systems custom fit your lawn and its needs. These sprinkler systems are built to last, and the Yard Butler is prepared to help with any problems that spring up. 

The Yard Butler takes care of winterizing your sprinkler system for you. They start their winterizing services at the beginning of October before the freeze hits. They understand sprinkler systems are a significant investment and can be tricky to deal with.