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How To Turn On Sprinkler System After Winter in 9 Easy Steps

After months of inactivity, it’s time to turn on your sprinkler system again. A home sprinkler system can help you maintain your lawn looking lush even while saving you effort and time by eliminating the need to water by hand.

These systems are usually automatic, but if you switched it off for the winter, you’d need to do a few extra steps to get it running again in the spring. But how do you avoid wasting water and getting soggy grass?

This post will show you how to turn on sprinkler system after winter and what steps to avoid wasting any water.

Because your garden and grass may not have to be watered via the sprinkler system during the winter, it’s a good idea to switch it off. However, when the spring season comes, you’ll have to reactivate it.

Your flowers and grass will be able to obtain the water they require to bloom lush and bright if the sprinkler system is turned on.

Some homeowners hire a lawn service provider to winterize their sprinkler system in the late fall and reactivate it in the spring. There’s no logic to spend for this service when it’s so simple to do it in minutes by learning how to turn on the sprinkler system after winter.

Things You’ll Need

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Pen or Pencil
  • Appropriate-sized Sprinkler valve key
  • Pliers
  • Scrap paper or Notepad

A Step by Step Guide on How To Turn On Sprinkler System After Winter

Find the Main Shutoff Valve  

  • The first thing you need to do is locate the main water supply shutoff valve. This is very important because if this valve isn’t turned off, there will be no way to stop water flow through the sprinkler system.
  • Depending on where you are in relation to your home and sprinkler system, this may be a very easy or difficult task.
  • If the valve is located near your home and you can see it from the ground, it should be relatively simple to locate.
  • On the other hand, if you can’t see it from your position on the ground, you may need a ladder to find it. Once you locate the main water supply shutoff valve, turn it off by turning clockwise. If you can’t turn it in by hand, use a pair of pliers to help you.

Find the Vacuum Breaker

  • Another important sprinkler system component is the vacuum breaker located normally above ground.
  • This valve assembly is made of plastic or copper linked to 2 pipes, each having its own small-sized shutdown valve.
  • The vacuum breaker features 2 test valves, known as test cocks, that appear like slotted screw heads in addition to the shutdown valves.
  • They must be twisted 45 degrees in the nipples’ direction they’re linked to. This enables air inside the valve, protecting it from freezing damage throughout the winter.
  • This device will help prevent water from leaking out of any underground pipes through cracks or holes underground.
  • If the vacuum breaker is not installed, then water can seep through these cracks and eventually become a problem in your yard. It’s also important that the vacuum breaker is placed in a spot that will not easily become clogged with dirt and debris.

Close the Test Cocks of Vacuum Breaker

  • Rotate the flat-head screwdriver to lock both the test cocks so that the nipple and the slot located on the test cock are perpendicular to each other.

Open the Shut Off Valves

  • Then, on the vacuum breaker, open the 2 shutdown valves.
  • Every valve is mounted on a pipe that leads to it and has a butterfly-style handle.
  • For winterization, the valve handles and the test cocks, should be positioned perpendicular to the pipe.
  • Turn the handle on each valve till it is aligned with the pipe.

Reinstall the Bleeder Cap of the Main Valve

  • On system shutoff valves, a metal cap screws onto a bleeder nip on the valve’s side.
  • During a system shutdown, this is utilized for draining any remaining water from the pipework.
  • Double-check that the cap is securely fastened if your shutdown valve contains a bleeder nipple.

 Open the Main Valve

  • To allow the water to enter the sprinkler system, slowly open the main shutdown valve.
  • Rotate the valve handle by one-quarter turn (90° turn) until it is parallel to the pipe, which will be the completely open position for a ball valve.
  • Turn an in-ground shutdown valve counterclockwise till it stops using the valve key of a sprinkler.

Test Run the System Manually

  • For all sprinkler zones, set the timer of the system to execute a manual test lasting 2-5 minutes per zone.
  • Keep an eye on the heads of the sprinkler to ensure they’re functioning properly for all zones, and jot down any faults you find to handle them later.
  • When the sprinklers first turn on, they will stutter and puff out air; this is common and will pass in 60 secs or so.

Check the Vacuum Breaker and Valves Again

  • Ensure there are no issues or leaky valves by opening each valve box in the ground.
  • Verify that the vacuum breaker and the accompanying valves and pipework are in good working order.
  • The main shutdown valve’s bleeder should be checked. If there is a leaking issue with the cap, use pliers to tighten it gradually.

Get Ready to Water

  • Adjust spray patterns or replace damaged sprinkler heads if any issues were discovered while performing the manual test.
  • Once you’re sure everything’s okay and working, turn on your sprinklers. This may be as simple as turning on a manual valve at the curb if your system is not automated. If you live in an area that gets hit by frequent power outages, consider installing a battery backup or upgrading your system.
  • For the initial watering, set the system timer. If feasible, water while keeping a close eye on the sprinkler system for the season’s first-time use to ensure everything is in functioning order.
  • Watering in the early morning or at night is usually the most water-efficient option.
How To Turn On Sprinkler System After Winter 2
via Pxhere

Sprinklers are activated by the controller, which usually runs off either 120- or 240-volt AC power. After unplugging the controller during winter, you need to reset it before you can turn on your sprinklers.

This is a basic system with no battery backup, so you need to be somewhat lucky with the weather for it to work. As soon as power is restored, water will spray from all zones.

If you have a time clock attached to your controller, reset that. The time clock probably was not active during the shutdown and will resume running at full speed.

If your controller doesn’t turn on automatically when the power comes back, press each button in sequence. This should activate all zones.

If one zone won’t budge, check for a blown a fuse or tripped breaker. Also, check to see if there’s the water pressure and that you have a full bucket of water in the controller. 


Final Remarks

Learning how to turn on the sprinkler system after winter would require some time and patience for the first time. If you are willing to spend the time, I believe it could help you achieve your goal in a short period.