How To Turn On Sprinklers After Winter

If you happen to live in an area where it gets frigid and water can freeze, you will have to winterize your sprinkler system. This is done to protect the pipes of the sprinkler system and ensure that nothing gets cracked or damaged. Homeowners must consider all of the maintenance required when owning a sprinkler system. Also, keep in mind that there are ways to maintain all systems in and around your home. Following the necessary steps is key in ensuring that you save time and money. Homeowners that live in freezing winter temperatures and have winterized their sprinkler systems will need to know how to turn them back on. How to turn on sprinklers after winter? Just like any other maintenance needs, there is a set of instructions to follow.

Let’s take a look below at what those instructions are.

What Do I Need

Before you begin any project you most likely are going to need some supplies or tools. Below is a list of recommended tools to turn on your sprinklers after winterizing them.

Turn on your sprinkler system after winter by reprogramming your control box.
Control box for a sprinkler system.

What Are The Steps

When it comes to the maintenance of your sprinkler system there are necessary steps to take to ensure that the system is turned on correctly. Let’s take a look at those recommended maintenance instructions.

  1. Locate the main shut-off valve – this water valve is typically found outside of where the sprinkler control box is located. In some cases, this shut-off valve is located in a crawlspace, basement, or outside the garage. Also, check to make sure that you aren’t turning off the shut-off valve to the whole home’s water supply.
  2. Vacuum breaker – this will be located above the ground and near the house. It is a copper or plastic part that connects two pipes. You will see that both pipes have their own shut-off valves.
  3. Vacuum breaker test valves – close the test valves that are located on each pipe that is connected to the breaker. This will require a flathead screwdriver and each valve has a slot for the flathead. The slot should be turned so that it is perpendicular to the stem.
  4. Open the vacuum breaker test valves – rotate each handle on the breaker test valves so that they are parallel to the respective pipes.
  5. Reinstall the main valve bleeder cap (if needed) – place the metal cap onto the bleeder nipple of the main valve and tighten it.
  6. Slowly open – now you are ready to slowly open the main valve. Slow and steady here as you do not want to create a water hammer. This will damage your sprinkler system. Shut-off valves that are inside will likely require a sprinkler valve key and it should be rotated counterclockwise. If the ball valve is outside then you will turn it until it is parallel to the pipe.
  7. System test – you can now test the system by running a couple of zones at a time. Run each zone for a few minutes and allow it to release any air trapped in the lines. Take note of any damaged sprinkler head that needs repair.
  8. Recheck the vacuum breaker and valves – you will check for leaks and other possible issues at the vacuum breaker, as well as the shut-off valves and any visible pipe.
  9. Repair the issues – after you have completed your test of the system and written down all issues, you will now make the repairs. Repairs can include a variety of issues such as broken pipes, sprinkler head replacement, or adjusting the spray patterns.

If you are finding that the sprinkler won’t turn on, there could be a broken head, a broken valve, a damaged pipe, or voltage issues. Reach out to a professional if you need help.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know about sprinklers, here are some other areas of maintenance.

One of those is using landscaping to keep water away from the house. This can be done by planting native plants, making sure the yard is graded, and also by adding gutters. It is important to do this so you don’t have water seeping into the home and causing flooding or mold to grow.

Next, if you notice that weeds are starting to grow through in the garden, you will need to use some type of landscape fabric under the gravel. This will save you time in pulling weeds but make sure that the plants are getting enough water.

Lastly, while you are on the topic of winterization and how to restart a system, consider reading up on how long it takes to thaw your ac coils. The AC coils could freeze just like your sprinkler system could. It is a great idea to make sure that you understand how to properly thaw any system that deals with the potential of water freezing your systems.

It is always good to repair damaged sprinkler heads after you have turned them back on from the winter.
Repair damaged sprinkler heads.

When Do I Call A Professional

When it comes to winterizing and restarting your sprinkler system it is always a great idea to call your local irrigation company. They have the expertise and equipment handy to check your entire sprinkler system to make sure it isn’t damaged. Also, they can ensure that the sprinkler system gets turned back on properly. If you aren’t sure which local company is reputable reach out to your local home inspection team. Your home inspection team evaluates your sprinkler system, checks the foundation of your home, and recommended some landscaping changes during a full home inspection. Also, they can recommend a reputable local irrigation company to turn on your sprinkler system after winter.


Getting your sprinkler system up and running after it has been shut off for an extended period of time should be done by a professional. You wouldn’t want to risk major damage to your sprinkler system if you turn it back on incorrectly. If you would like to get a lesson on operating your sprinkler system and what it takes to reset after winterization you should reach out to your local irrigation specialist. Also, consider getting a home inspection at the same time. You may have other damage in or around your home that was a result of a damaged sprinkler system. Call on Heartland Inspections services in greater Minneapolis St. Paul and surrounding areas for your home inspection needs. They will inspect your garage, crawlspace, or basement for any damages caused by your sprinkler system.