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How to Winterize a Drip Irrigation

Frozen water in your drip irrigation system can destroy your drip lines, valves and most other system components. That’s why properly winterizing your drip irrigation system is so important. You can take some simple steps to prepare your system for winter weather and freezing temperatures. In the spring, always run a test cycle and check for clogged emitters, leaking valves, or any punctures or tears in the drip lines.

Turn off the main water supply to the drip irrigation system in the fall, before freezing weather begins.

Turn on the drip irrigation controller and run one regular watering cycle, opening all of the valves to alleviate pressure in the drip line pipes. By running the cycle, the residual water will drain from the pipes and valves. Turn the controller off.

Open the drain outlet or plug on the pump to drain all the water out of it. Remove, drain and store the backflow prevention mechanism for the winter.

Remove any water from the risers using a wet/dry shop vacuum. Place caps on the risers.

Disconnect the drip line hose from its filter assembly. Place a plastic bag over this end of the drip hose. Lift up the drip hose and drain all water from it, and then store the drip hose indoors for the winter with hose ends or “caps” fixed to the ends.

Insulate all pipes that are above the ground by wrapping them with insulating tape. You don’t need to wrap any sprinkler heads, however.


For an automatic drip system, you can either shut off the power to the controller or timer, or you can set it to “rain mode.” Rain mode will prevent the valves from activating.

Leave solenoid valves open during the winter. You can do the same for gate and ball valves, but you should remove and stores these types of valves for the winter, if at all possible.


Always leave your drip irrigation system shut off during the winter, until all chance of freezing or frost has passed. If you need to water any plants during the winter, do so with a garden hose.

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