What Happens if an Inground Sprinkler is not Drained In Winter?

One of the most common yard-related investments is an inground sprinkler system. There are several good reasons to install one in your lawn — apart from ensuring proper water distribution and maintenance of a healthy green surface, it can also contribute to the overall aesthetic appearance of your outdoor space. Not only that, but during spring, an inground sprinkler will ensure that it doesn’t water more than it should, which is a common mistake with manual watering.

Still, while the inground sprinkler comes with a number of perks, you should know that it is a seasonal thing and that, as winter approaches and colder temperature strikes, you should take certain precautions to avoid high repair costs.

Draining the pipes and making sure that the sprinkler system is well-protected for that time of the year is something that you will have to do. For those who are not familiar with how to winterize an inground sprinkler system, we will discuss a few tips and tricks.

Let’s get right to it and find out what happens if your inground sprinkler system is not drained when winter comes around.

What if You Forget to Winterize the Inground Sprinkler?

As we suggested above, the importance of winterizing your inground sprinkler is clear — if you don’t do it, chances are your whole investment will be for nothing. But what happens if an inground sprinkler is not drained in winter?

First and foremost, the cold temperatures will probably affect the pipes which can lead to a defective or faulty water line. This will either be shown through uneven water pressure or restricted water flow.

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How do you troubleshoot it? Dig into the ground and find the faulty components. If you don’t manage to do that, you will have to call in an expert, which can be quite costly. The other common scenario related to colder temperatures is faulty valves.

Whether it is the plastic casing that breaks down or the diaphragm that went bad, it may get expensive. Last, but not least, the controller that sends electrical signals between two zones can also be affected by the colder temperature. While the recommended voltage is anywhere between 24 and 28V, the harsh weather conditions can affect this.

So, to avoid potential trouble and high costs related to not winterizing your inground sprinkler, we have prepared a few tips on how to do it right.

Tips on How to Properly Winterize an Inground Sprinkler System

The first thing that you will need to do is shut off any water supply to the inground sprinkler system. We recommend you invest in a shutoff valve that will basically serve as protection for the whole irrigation system.

If you already have one, make sure it is properly insulated and protected from cold temperatures — foam tape and a plastic bag should work just fine. While this system is in the ground, you should still make sure that none of the valves or other components are exposed to these conditions.

The second step is adjusting the controller according to the specific weather condition. Your best bet is to program it to the so-called rain mode because it will not erase the time and other settings that you have adjusted the sprinkler to, but will still prevent electrical signals transmitting from one zone to another. Your other option is to completely shut it off, but that will require that you reprogram it once warm weather returns.

Once you have done these steps, move on to draining the pipes. Whether it will be manually or using the automatic drain valve method, you should make sure that no water stays in the sprinklers or the pipes. This way, you will reduce the potential of these components freezing and damaging the whole irrigation system. If you are not sure how to do it, you can always call in a specialist and let them do the job.

Last, but not least, make sure that all the components are protected and insulated with foam tape — however, stay away from blocking the air vents.


It is no secret that an inground sprinkler system should be deactivated for the winter season to reduce the chance of the irrigation system becoming faulty. By following the previously mentioned steps and tricks, you should be able to do it on your own, while avoiding any kind of damage in the process. So, make sure that you drain your inground sprinkler in the winter.

What Happens if an Inground Sprinkler is not Drained In Winter?

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