How to Turn Your Sprinkler System Back on After Winterizing

A home sprinkler system can be a great way to keep your yard looking lush while also saving you time and energy from watering by hand. Usually these systems are automatic, but if you turned it off for the winter there will be a few extra steps you’ll need to take to get it back working for the spring. This article will explain how to do that.

What you’ll need

Restarting a sprinkler system only requires a few basic tools and materials:

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Sprinkler valve key (for some systems)
  • Paper and pencil
  • Pliers (for some systems)

Steps to turn on sprinkler system after wintering

  1. Find system’s main shut-off valve. This is usually outside near the sprinkler control box. Some systems may have the shut-off valve in a basement or crawlspace. Be careful not to mistake the sprinkler shut-off valve for your home’s main water supply shut-off valve.
  2. Find the vacuum breaker. You can typically find this near the house, above ground. Look for either a copper or plastic assembly connecting two pipes. Both pipes will have their own shut-off valves.
  3. Close the vacuum breaker test valves. On each pipe going into the breaker, you’ll see valves with a slot for a flathead screwdriver. Using your screwdriver, turn each valve so until the slot is perpendicular to the stem.
  4. Open the vacuum breaker’s shut-off valves. Turn both handles so that they’re parallel to their respective pipes.
  5. Reinstall main valve bleeder cap (as needed). If your sprinkler system has a bleeder nipple on the main valve, place the metal cap on the nipple and tighten until it’s snug.
  6. Slowly open the main valve. It’s very important to turn on the water gradually, otherwise you can create a water hammer that can damage your system. If you have an outside ball valve, turn the handle until it’s parallel to the pipe. If your shut-off valve is inside, you may need a sprinkler valve key to rotate the valve counterclockwise.
  7. Test the system. Run a manual test of each zone for a few minutes. At first, the sprinklers will blow out air, but that should subside quickly as water flows through the system. Inspect each sprinkler head and make a note of any issues you see.
  8. Recheck the vacuum breaker and valves. Go back through the system and check for any leaks or other problems at the vacuum break, all the shut-off valves, and visible pipes
  9. Fix any issues. Based on your manual test, you may need to replace damaged sprinkler heads or adjust spraying patterns. Once everything is working well, you can set the system timer for automatic watering.

By taking a few minutes to make sure your sprinkler system is ready for spring, you can look forward to months of watering without lifting a finger.

At Liberty Plumbing, we know that plumbing and air conditioning issued can pop up when you least expect them. With over 25 years of experience serving the Murrieta, San Diego, and Winchester areas, you can trust us to fix the problem with exceptional service. Call us today at (951) 760-4215.

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