The Ins & Outs of Irrigation Maintenance

Dead patches of grass, pools of standing water, sunken turf, mold, and mildew are a few of the top signs that your irrigation system isn’t working correctly. If your sprinklers aren’t working right, no matter the malfunction, it can cost you a lot of money. To help you avoid wasted time and cash, read on to review the ins and outs of irrigation maintenance. Keep your sprinkler system lasting longer and working better.

Check and Adjust Sprinkler Heads

Before moving on to the more complicated aspects of maintaining your irrigation system, the first thing you’ll want to do is check to see that your sprinkler heads are in working order. First, you’ll want to check for any signs of sprinkler head damage, which is generally easy to do. You’ll want to locate all your sprinkler heads and check for cracks or broken-off pieces; if everything looks OK, turn on the water to locate any hidden damage. If you have a damaged sprinkler head, you may see a few things: large rushing bursts of water, light mists, or water not coming out at all.

These issues may be due to a broken piece that you’ll need to replace or a clogged sprinkler head. To clean out a sprinkler head, take a stiff wire and clean out the hole. You may also need to clear out any debris from the sleeve of the sprinkler. However, if this doesn’t help, and it’s not an issue with a broken piece, you may need to adjust the pressure or flush out your sprinkler system, which we will review later.

Once you’ve identified any issues, move your attention to the working sprinklers. You’ll want to monitor the spray pattern to ensure your property gets watered evenly. If the arc isn’t evenly watering your property, you may want to adjust it. However, different sprinkler heads have various adjustment systems.

  • Rotor Sprinkler Heads (Gear-Driven Rotors): Identify the plus and minus signs on the top of the rotor; somewhere next to it, you should find a keyhole. You can find a rotor adjustment tool at your local hardware store. To decrease the arc, turn to the right. To increase the ark, turn to the left.
  • Pop-up sprinkler heads: If you have a fixed pop-up sprinkler, you cannot adjust it, only replace it. For variable nozzles, find the screw and use a flathead screwdriver to adjust the radius of the nozzle and set the arc position by adjusting the stem.
  • Impact sprinkler heads: For impact sprinklers, you can adjust them by hand or with a rotator adjustment tool, rotating counterclockwise to decrease the arc or clockwise to increase the arc.

Identify Leaks and Adjust Pressure

Once you’ve checked the sprinkler heads for leaks and adjusted any necessary sprinkler heads, you’ll want to check for pipe leakage. Irrigation system leaks can take many forms, but they’re easy to identify. You may notice patches of dry landscape, indicating a broken underground pipe or, conversely, standing water pooling around the head from excessive flow. Other, more subtle indicators are a high water bill, visibly cracked pipes, and low-pressure sprinkler heads.

Once you’ve identified the source of the leakage, you’ll want to address the issue immediately, as a leaking pipe or sprinkler head can waste dozens of gallons of water a minute. While you may already have identified sprinkler head damage, if it keeps leaking after you turn off the system, it’s likely an issue with the electric valve. If it is an issue with the electric valve, you need to replace it. If there’s an issue with a swing pipe (the black flexible tubing), you can cut out the damaged section and use a new piece of swing pipe along with some barb coupler fittings to repair it.

If neither of those is the source, it’s likely an issue with a PVC pipe which can be very difficult to replace as it lacks flexibility. However, you can try it on your own by using the broken piece as a length and width guide and sealing the openings with primer and a high-quality solvent. You’ll need to ensure the pipe doesn’t move for at least 20 minutes to ensure proper curing. However, we still recommend contacting a professional to fix PVC pipe issues.

Once you’ve made all the repairs, let the sprinklers run and monitor the problem areas. While you may have fixed the issues, you might still need to adjust the water pressure. The ideal water pressure for homes or businesses should be somewhere between 40 to 65 PSI. To measure this, you can buy a pressure gauge that will screw to the outlet of the spigot and measure the static pressure. This will ensure that your repaired sprinklers are running smoothly and efficiently.

Clean and Flush Out Sprinklers

Hopefully, you’ve solved all repair issues and needs at this stage, and your sprinklers are in good condition because now you’ll want to clean out the sprinklers to optimize and maintain efficiency. And because you checked and cleaned out clogged sprinkler heads earlier, you can focus on flushing and cleaning out the pipes. When you thoroughly flush the pipes, it ensures even water distribution and clears out build-up. To flush out your sprinkler line, unscrew the sprinkler head, turn on the water, and allow the water to flow until it runs clear. You’ll want to do this zone by zone, so you don’t have to remove all your sprinkler heads at once.

It may also be worth your time to clean the system’s filters, as they tend to get clogged with debris and mineral build-up. You can clean your filters by rinsing them in a vinegar and water solution to break down any built-up dirt and grime. Once you’ve done all the steps listed here and above, your sprinklers should be in working order and hopefully in optimal condition. You’ll want to check for issues once a season to ensure all your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Consistent cleaning and inspection will help you maintain your irrigation system throughout the year and ensure you identify any issues before they become a problem.

Adjust Your Sprinkler Schedule for the Season

This step, luckily, is the easiest and most effective way to maintain your irrigation system. Plants and grass need more water to stay cool and grow in the spring and the summer. However, in the winter, plants begin to go into dormancy, and if it gets too cold, running your irrigation system can freeze your plants and the pipes. Before the cold weather impacts your irrigation system, completely flush out the pipes and turn off the timers. Depending on your irrigation system, you may have to drain it manually, although most modern systems have automatic draining mechanics.

With this in-depth guide to the ins & outs of irrigation maintenance, you’re ready to keep your sprinklers in working order all year round without having to fork out cash unnecessarily. But if you’re still struggling to repair your irrigation system, or you can’t pinpoint the problem, Hernandez Lawnscape can provide you with the irrigation services you need! Here, we have professionals with the knowledge, passion, and dedication to help you solve all your irrigation problems.

The Ins & Outs of Irrigation Maintenance

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