How Much Does It Cost to Winterize or Activate a Sprinkler System?

Typical Range:

$53 - $121

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 5,926 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

How We Get This Data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated November 1, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

On average, you’ll spend $87 or between $53 and $121. In northern and some desert climates, where temperatures regularly drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll often need to blow out your sprinklers to avoid them freezing and ruining your system. It costs significantly more to repair or replace that system if you forget. If you leave water in your system, it can freeze, expand, and cause ruptures and leaks underground.

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National Average $87
Typical Range $53 - $121
Low End - High End $40 - $300

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 5,926 HomeAdvisor members.

Winterize Sprinkler System Cost

Winterizing your sprinkler system costs about $50 to $200, depending on how many zones you have. Large properties with five or more zones may cost a bit more. Winterizing a sprinkler system typically includes:

  • Blowing out the pipes

  • Shutting off the main water supply

  • Inspecting the box

  • Turning off any injection systems

  • Draining the backflow preventer 

Typically, you’ll hire your landscaper to do this, and in some cases they’ll include it in your seasonal landscaping and snow removal subscription. During the process, they’ll also check the box and make sure all the water is turned off to your system. Unless your pro finds something broken, all the money comes from paying for labor and overhead. Overhead includes driving to the site, insurance, and any licenses needed in your area.  

Cost to Blow Out Sprinkler System

On average, blowing out your sprinklers costs $50 to $200. The main part of winterizing your sprinkler system is blowing out the pipes; you’ll do this with an air compressor. However, too much air can harm the pipes, so it’s usually best to hire a professional. You can often get this included in your landscaping contract for the end of the season. 

If you decide to go this route yourself, take note of a few things:

  • You can rent an air compressor for $30 to $100 per day

  • Don’t exceed 50 PSI on your air compressor. Too much pressure can harm your sprinkler system.

  • Don’t forget to drain the other components of your system.

  • Be sure to turn off the main water supply. 

Given the cost of an air compressor and the danger of hurting the system, consider hiring a professional instead. 

Costs by Number of Zones

Most homes have at least two zones. Usually, you’ll find your front yard has about two zones, and your back yard has two or more zones. Zones are separate systems within the ground, which allows you to water only a portion of the yard at a time. Homes with lower water pressure often have more zones.

ZoneCost
1 – 2$50 – $100
3 – 4$75 – $100
5 – 6$100 – $150
7 – 8$150 – $200

Other Sprinkler Winterization Costs

After your irrigation system is clear of standing water, you only need to turn off the water supply valve and the controller. These tasks could only take a few minutes. Your plumber or landscaper may do it for you as part of the winterization service. If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, ask to be sure.

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Sprinkler System Winterization Cost Factors

There aren’t many things you can do to reduce the cost of winterizing your sprinkler system, but there are a few cost factors that may come into play. However, always check with your landscaping service provider to see if they have any deals.

3 deals to consider when winterizing your sprinkler system, including fall being the best time of year when your professional winterizing others in your area
Photo: Mariusz Blach / Adobe Stock

Blow Out vs. Manual or Automatic Drain Valves

Automatic drain valves cost $5 to $80 a piece, not including installation. If this is the only method, winterization might cost you only $50 to $150, as it involves simply shutting off the water and backflow preventer. The same is true for manual valves, since they’re easier to access. 

However, they shouldn’t replace the need to blow out the pipes at the end of the season, but they do help in case you get a late or early freeze. 

  • You’ll want these installed when you put in a new system. 

  • Professionals recommend still getting a blowout before the winter. They work by opening when the water pressure in your lines drops, so they continuously drain the pipes after use. 

  • Since they’re underground, they can become clogged or malfunction, putting your pipes at risk. 

Timeframe 

Your professional will know when the best time to blow out your sprinklers is. They’ll often offer deals for a short window in the fall, when they’re out working on other customers' lawns. Grouping the service into a few days helps save the pro money—savings they can pass along to you. Actual savings will vary between landscaping companies. 

Above- vs. Below-Ground Systems

The only real difference between an above- and below-ground system is the need for insulating the pipes. Although not always the case, which depends on the type of material being used, your professional might recommend insulating them. Everything else about the process remains the same. 

Irrigation System Activation or Opening Costs

In the spring, you’ll need your pro to come out and reactivate the system, which they’ll often offer as part of a summer landscaping service contract. Getting the system ready for irrigation season costs $50 to $150. The service often comes at a flat rate. The process entails much more than just turning on the water main and hoping for the best. 

Your professional will:

  1. Inspect and clean the backflow preventer

  2. Turn on your water supply

  3. Build pressure slowly to avoid damaging the valves and heads

  4. Identify possible leaks

  5. Test your sprinkler system by zone

  6. Clean sprinkler heads

  7. Plan for repairs, if needed. It may not include additional charges for repairs or necessary upgrades.

Sprinkler System Replacement Costs

Activation occasionally shows problems in the sprinkler system that require replacement. Plumbers may charge a flat rate per item or divide up the estimate into parts and labor. In addition to the average hourly labor charge of $50 to $200 for removal of broken parts and installation of equipment, homeowners can expect to pay these prices for new pieces:

PartCost Range
Sprinkler Heads$2 – $25 each
Valves$5 – $40 each
PVC Pipe$0.50 – $2 per linear foot
Connectors$0.50 – $5 each

Lawn Care Cost Considerations

When you open up your sprinklers in the spring, consider adding in other services as part of a service contract to lower your overall costs. Your professional might offer deals in the winter to sign up for a bundle of services for the spring and summer.

Landscaping Maintenance$140 per service
Lawn Aeration$125 per service
Sod Replacement$1 – $2 per sq. ft.
  • Sprinkler system obstructions require a little clever pruning and maintenance. Your lawn and shrubs may grow, but your sprinklers don’t move. You can trim the shrubs back or relocate the heads, a much costlier option. 

  • Lawn aeration costs $125 on average and won’t affect your sprinkler needs or costs. But, it will help your lawn grow more green and lush.

  • New sod installation costs $1–$2 per square foot. With regular irrigation, you generally won’t need this service, but it’s a good way to get a jump start on a lush, green lawn. It’s also great to pair with additions or repairs to subsurface irrigation systems.

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Lawn Sprinkler Tune-Up Costs

A tune-up costs $100 on average and can help pros spot problems before they become emergency issues, like seeing a leak before it becomes a completely broken system. 

A tune-up includes:

  • Visual inspection of the sprinkler heads and valves

  • Testing system for pressure and function

  • Cleaning and redirecting heads

Sprinkler system repairs cost $250, which a tune-up may help avoid. This includes replacing broken parts like sprinkler heads. During the spring and summer, you might start to see an area of your lawn or garden that looks drier than other areas. 

If so, it might be a good idea to check and see if that sprinkler head is clogged. Dirt and debris can easily block these parts, trapping them in the ground. Your professional can clean out the heads so they work properly.

DIY vs. Hiring an Irrigation Service

Homeowners who need to use an air compressor to blow out a sprinkler system may pay almost as much to rent the equipment ($30 to $60 per day) as the $75 average to have a professional do it for them. 

Some systems are designed to automatically force out water when the controller shuts down, making the remaining work short and simple for a homeowner to do. If you aren't sure what type of setup you have, or you don't feel comfortable opening your valves, you're better off hiring a pro.

Sprinkler System Service Agreements

Many companies offer prepaid service plans for yearly sprinkler maintenance; it’s usually cheaper than paying when the pro completes the work. These agreements may feature:

  • Lower fees for flat rate services

  • Discounts on extra work, like repairs

  • Ability to choose a plan by the individual service or the year

DIY Fall Sprinkler System Maintenance

To save money, handy homeowners may be able to do many of these tasks on their own:

  • Manually or automatically the drain valves

  • Turn off the water supply 

  • Shut off the controller

  • Test the system by zone

  • Clean or reposition the sprinkler heads

FAQs

When Should I Winterize my Sprinkler System?

The best time to winterize sprinklers comes in the fall before freezing temperatures hit, but after the grass doesn’t need water, which generally happens towards late September through the end of October. Homeowners must avoid leaving water in pipes that could freeze. 

When Should I Open My Sprinkler System?

To open up a sprinkler system in the spring, wait until low temperatures consistently sit above 32 degrees Fahrenheit to turn on your sprinkler system for the year. Although you can test your irrigation any time after that point, you may not need to use it until later in the spring.

How Much Does It Cost to Run an Irrigation System?

On average, homeowners will pay about $20 to $50 per month to use their sprinkler system. The typical American home uses 90 gallons per day on irrigation, which represents about 30% of a property's total water usage. You can reduce your usage and increase the effectiveness of watering by doing it in the early morning hours.

Activation$50 – $150
Tune-Up$100
Winterization$50 – $200
Water Usage*$100 – $300
Total$300 – $750

How long does it take to winterize a sprinkler system?

It takes more professionals less than an hour to winterize a sprinkler system. They also generally don’t need you to be there to get the job done since access is all from the home’s exterior. However, some homes have an interior shut-off valve for the outside water, which needs to be turned off. 

At what temperature do underground sprinklers freeze?

Underground sprinklers can freeze once the ground temperatures remain consistently below zero. The depth of your sprinkler system determines this. If your system sits below the frost line, it likely won’t freeze until deep winter. However, if it’s near the surface, you can see freezing at air temperatures slightly below freezing.

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