How To Drain And Store Drip Irrigation Systems: Tips For Winterization

Close Up Of A Drip Irrigation System
(Image credit: Maxvis)

Preparing drip irrigation for winter is important to avoid damage to the system. You risk losing your investment in this handy gardening tool by letting it freeze and burst. Drip irrigation basics for winterizing are simple and worth the hour or so of your time to get the chore done. 

Step-By-Step Drip Irrigation System Winterization

Less than an hour of drip irrigation winter care is usually all it takes to ensure your system will be clean, intact, and ready to use again in spring. Ideally, you should go through these steps before the first frost. 

  1. Flush the system with pressurized water to remove any debris. You may also want to flush it with chlorine to keep the system clean and kill and remove any algae buildup. You can flush again with water to remove the chlorine. 
  2. Remove the drain plugs from the lowest points in the system to allow any remaining water to drain from the tubing.
  3. If you suspect any water remains in lines or other components, use compressed air to blow it out. Remove end fittings first to avoid damaging them. 
  4. If your system has control valves, remove them and store inside. They will not tolerate freezing. For other types of valves, you can keep them in place and open to drain. It’s best to keep them open during the winter but cover them with something to prevent critters from entering. 
  5. Drain any pumps attached to the system that are above ground. These can hold on to water in low points and freeze.
  6. You can leave any non-electrical components outside for winter, but for the best results, store everything inside in a safe place. Keep ends covered and tubing protected from rodents. 

Draining drip irrigation systems is another chore for the garden, but it’s an important maintenance step. If you do nothing else to protect your irrigation system, do this. Leaving water in it can lead to freezing and ruptures not just in the irrigation components, but also in main water lines. Take time to do this important chore. You’ll be glad you did come spring.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.