How to Blow Out Sprinklers Before Winter

Frost on part of a sprinkler system

Ever wondered how to keep your sprinkler system safe and operational all year round? Are you tired of dealing with costly repairs due to winter damage?

This blog post will teach you a crucial irrigation maintenance task: how to blow out sprinklers before winter to ensure your irrigation system stays in top shape.

By the end, you’ll know exactly how to winterize your sprinkler system to save time and money.

Tools & Materials

To blow out sprinklers before winter, you’ll need the following tools and materials:

  • Air compressor
  • Air compressor hose
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves

Sprinkler And Irrigation Systems Must Be Winterized

Once you have the right sprinkler and irrigation system in place, winterizing is necessary to keep it running each season.

Winterizing your irrigation system involves blowing out the entire system to remove excess water.

Many homeowners don’t fully understand what this means or why it is essential and overlook this critical step.

So don’t overlook the importance of blowing out your sprinklers before winter!

Contact Simmons Landscape and Irrigation, Inc., Bowling Green, OH, for more information on how to blow out sprinklers.

You can also watch the video above to learn about our entire winterization process for irrigation systems.

Why Is It Necessary To Blow Out Sprinklers?

Winterizing a residential irrigation system by using a compressor and forced air to blow the lines empty

A proper irrigation and sprinkler system in your yard is an investment in the future of your lawn.

The lack of adequate care in winterizing your irrigation system could cause your sprinkler system to fail the following season, resulting in wasted time and expense.

Blowing out the sprinkler system as a part of winterization is essential because it ensures the sprinkler system is empty of any possible water and debris.

Even in small amounts, moisture can harm the inside of the equipment while it sits idle during the long winter season.

Water Can Leave Residue

Water left in your sprinkler pipes can cause residue buildup, leading to clogged sprinkler heads and poor irrigation performance.

Residue can harden and clog the lines, making the sprinkler system more challenging to start up.

Frozen Water Can Break Pipes

During winter, water left in your irrigation pipes can freeze and expand, causing the pipes to crack or burst.

This can lead to expensive repairs and a non-functional sprinkler system.

A damaged irrigation system

Water Can Cause Rusting

Water remaining in the sprinkler system also leads to rust and corrosion.

Rust and corrosion increase the likelihood of broken parts, resulting in deterioration and inefficient watering of your lawn.

Rusty and corroded water lines are susceptible to mold and mineral buildup.

Water flowing through these corrosive pipes is unhealthy for watering the lawn.

How Does A Sprinkler System Blow Out Work?

Blowing out the sprinkler system involves clearing the entire sprinkling system of any signs of water.

A proper blowout uses high-pressure air to push water out of the system.

Other methods to clean out the sprinkler system involve automatic or manual draining of the system.

Some systems come equipped with automatic or manual drainage systems.

These methods automatically pull the remaining water from the irrigation system.

Automatic Draining Does Not Remove All Water

Closeup of green plastic pipe with cover on green grass lawn.

Automatic draining can be helpful initially but cannot guarantee that absolutely all moisture is removed, making it less effective and unreliable.

Automatic draining is also unreliable because piping and water lines shift with time.

This slow natural draining means that water may not wholly drain when needed and will remain in corners or crevices of the equipment if not forced out.

These smaller, tighter areas are susceptible to breaking and cracking when water freezes in the winter.

High-Pressure Air Ensures All Water Is Removed

winterizing a irrigation sprinkler system by blowing pressurized air through to clear out water

High air pressure blowouts force any remaining water in the sprinkler system to move through each line and exit through the sprinkler head.

Compressed air pressure equally reaches every nook and cranny of the sprinkler system, regardless of pipe shifting or movement, leaving very little room for water to remain in the system.

A high-pressure blowout also dries the piping system while pushing the water out.

This drying of the pipes reduces the likelihood of rust, corrosion, or mildew buildup in the lines.

Blowing out sprinklers with pressurized air ensures that all water is removed from the pipes, significantly reducing the chances of winter-related damage.

How To Blow Out Sprinklers Using Compressed Air

Gauges showing water pressure from a water supply source

There are 7 simple steps to conducting a blowout of your sprinkler system:

1. Turn off the water supply and any automatic timers.

Shut off the water supply to your sprinkler system and deactivate any automatic timers to avoid electrical or mechanical faults.

2. Open the main water line leading to the sprinkler system and allow it to drain excess water.

This step helps remove any remaining water in the pipes before you start the blowout process.

3. Attach the air compressor and air hose.

Connect the air compressor hose to the sprinkler zone control valve, ensuring a proper seal.

4. Close the backflow valves.

Close the backflow preventer and pressure regulating valve to prevent pressurized air from escaping during the blowout process.

5. Use the air compressor to blow out the sprinkler system.

Turn on the air compressor, adjusting the air pressure and proper air volume as needed. Start with one sprinkler zone, and watch for water to be expelled from the sprinkler heads. Move on to the next zone once the water stops flowing.

6. Once complete, close the shut-off valves on the compressor.

This step prevents air from flowing back into the irrigation pipes.

7. Open and close the backflow valves to release the remaining air.

Release any remaining pressurized air from the system by opening and closing the backflow and airflow valves.

Other Tips For Blowing Out Sprinklers

Your irrigation system is complex, with several lines leading to your yard’s different areas or “zones.”

Blow out each zone individually to ensure a proper blowout.

Start with zones at the highest elevations of the yard and furthest away from the main water line.

Water will exist in the sprinkler heads or taps once the compressed air pressure moves through the lines.

After clearing each line, close the tap on that line.

Air Compressor Requirements

air compressor gauge

The first step to blowing out sprinklers is to have the appropriate air compressor equipment.

Equipment that is too small will not reach the full extent of your sprinkler system, leaving behind large amounts of water that can damage your system.

The air compressor should provide 30-50 cubic feet of pressure per minute (cfm).

This amount of pressure will ensure your compressor can deliver enough air volume to fill the lines and reach the ends of your entire system.

Additionally, the air compressor must push air at a pressure between 40 – 80 pounds per square inch (psi).

This amount is enough to force the air pressure to push out any remaining water without being excessive.

Pressure above 80 psi for systems made of polyethylene pipe could damage or break the water lines.


white plastic eye protection goggles

While not significant enough to break your water lines, 40 – 80 psi is considerable air pressure.

It is essential to wear proper eye protection when working with this pressure.

Turn the compressor on slowly when conducting a blowout.

Turning the air compressor on too quickly could damage the line.

Gradually turning it on and increasing the pressure allows for better monitoring and control.

Once the blowout is complete, check to ensure all lines are shut off and tightened.

Cover and insulate all above-ground system fixtures to prevent freezing, hardening, and breaking throughout the winter.

Contact Simmons Landscape and Irrigation, Inc. To Get Your Sprinkler System Winterized

A Simmons Landscape & Irrigation vehicle in front of a property that they are blowing out the sprinkler system in preparation for winter

By now, you understand the importance of blowing out your sprinklers before winter and how to do it correctly.

Simmons Landscape and Irrigation, Inc. is a family-owned full-service landscape company in service for more than four generations.

With four generations of experience and know-how, you can trust our professionals to winterize your sprinkler system and ensure its longevity.

Don’t let winter weather wreak havoc on your irrigation system. Save time, money, and stress by having our experts handle the process for you.

Fill out our contact form today or give us a call to schedule your sprinkler system winterization.

Simmons Landscape and Irrigation, Inc., are also leaders in irrigation installation, maintenance, and repair. Our friendly and professional team of landscape technicians can help you understand and achieve the lush green lawn you desire.