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For Immediate Release

Getting The Sprinkler System Ready For Winter

Rain Bird Provides Helpful Tips For Saving Water, Money And Protecting Automatic Irrigation Systems From The Winter Elements

AZUSA, CA (October 13, 2011) –As the weather cools, it is important to prepare sprinkler systems for the onset of freezing temperatures. Water that is left in the system during the winter may cause valves or other system components to malfunction when the system needs to be operating at peak efficiency, during the spring and summer seasons.

The irrigation experts at Rain Bird recommend that homeowners that reside in areas with freezing wintertime temperatures take the time to properly winterize their irrigation system around the middle of autumn. Here are a few tips to get sprinklers ready for winter and ensure that systems are operating in the most water-efficient manner when the temperatures begin to warm up in the spring.

Turn Off The Timer

Automatic irrigation systems have a controller or timer. Most controllers have a “rain” or “off” mode that shuts off the signals to the valves. Turning it “off” allows the controller to keep all the essential programming information stored in it. The only change is that the valves will not activate. If you unplug or cut the power to your controller, be aware that you may need to reprogram it in the spring.

Close The Main Valve

Nearly every system has a main water valve that when turned, will shut off the flow of water to the irrigation system. The main valve is often located outside, but may be inside the garage, depending on the system set up. Shutting off the main valve will prevent any flow of water and protect the system from freezing up. If your system doesn’t have a main shutoff valve, you may consider purchasing one as they are inexpensive to install and a great way to protect your investment.

Drain The Pipes

Those who live in colder regions will want to remove the water from pipes to keep them from freezing and bursting. There are several ways to drain pipes, including draining the valves manually and using compressed air to “blow out” the system. Since there can be some risk involved when using the “blow out” method, it’s always a good idea to wear eye protection and contact an irrigation system specialist beforehand.

Insulate The Aboveground Pipes

It’s also a good idea to insulate any aboveground pipes, valves and backflow preventers. Wrap the valve in insulation (foam insulation tape and a plastic bag). Most home supply stores sell self-sticking, foam-insulating tape and foam insulating tubes for this task.

Install a Wireless Rain/Freeze Sensor

Rain/Freeze sensors prevent the irrigation system from turning on when the temperatures drop below freezing, or during a rainstorm. A sudden cold snap before the system is winterized cannot only result in damage, but also wasted water. Watering before or during freezes can create problems with lawns, shrubs and trees, as well as create ice on walkways or streets. Rain Bird’s WR2 Wireless Rain/Freeze Sensor connects to most irrigation controllers, and overrides the watering schedule when it detects rain or freezing temperatures. Once conditions improve, the system will return to normal operation.

Scale It Back

Even if temperatures do not drop below freezing during the winter, it is important that homeowners reduce the watering times and frequency during cooler temperatures. Most plants and grasses adapt to cooler temperatures and shorter days by curtailing growth, or going dormant during the winter. Scaling back watering will result in happier, healthier plants when spring arrives.

More information on preparing irrigation systems for winter, visit Rain Bird’s Winterization Help Section.


Headquartered in Azusa, Calif., Rain Bird Corporation is the world’s leading manufacturer and provider of irrigation products and services. From simple beginnings in 1933, Rain Bird now offers the industry's broadest range of irrigation products for farms, golf courses, sports arenas, commercial developments and homes, available in more than 130 countries. Rain Bird has been awarded over 450 patents worldwide, including the first in 1935 for the impact sprinkler. Rain Bird’s philosophy called The Intelligent Use of Water ® is about using water wisely. Its commitment extends beyond products to education, training and services for the industry and the community. Rain Bird maintains state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities around the world.

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