A sprinkler system can be intimidating when something goes wrong, but don’t let your lack of skills with irrigation systems scare you away. The truth is that you can have a lush, green lawn and take excellent care of your sprinkler system without any special skills. The goal is to identify the problem and take care of it with these simple solutions.
First, it’s important to understand how a sprinkler system works. The controller sends a signal to the control valves, and the valves open, sending water through the underground water line. The water causes the sprinkler heads to pop up and spray water on the lawn. The components that allow a sprinkler system to work can break or malfunction, and they will need to be fixed in order to get your sprinkler running like clockwork again.
Below are common problems with underground irrigation systems and how to fix them.
Sprinkler Heads Not Working
It’s likely that a sprinkler head needs to be replaced. Dig around the sprinkler head to remove it from the riser. Take note of any cracks, broken plastic or heads that don’t pop up. Replace the broken head with a new one by turning it tightly to secure it onto the riser.
If it’s not a broken sprinkler head causing the problems, it may be dirty and clogged heads that are creating issues. Clogged heads may rise but fail to spray water, or they may spray water sporadically. Disassemble the sprinkler head by unscrewing the top from the canister, and then rinse away soil and debris.
Note that when replacing or cleaning sprinkler heads, you may have to reset the spray pattern.
Low Water Pressure
The easiest way to fix a low water pressure problem is to check the valves on the backflow device and ensure they are open. The backflow device is located above ground and have valves on the horizontal and vertical pipes. Make sure these valves are open.
If the valves are open but your sprinkler system is still shooting out very little water, it’s possible that there may be a leak in the water line. Water line problems are located between the last working head and the first nonworking head, so check here first. Look for signs of a leak, such as bubbling water or a wet, soggy area.
If a leak is found, dig straight down to the water line and follow the leak until you reach the crack or break in the line. Repair the leak with a slip coupling, which can be found at an irrigation supply store.
It’s also possible that low water pressure can be coming from crushed pipes, which occurs when tree roots grow underground and squeeze the pipes. These types of problems are much harder to detect and require a lot of digging, but if you find the water line, you can cut the damaged section with a hacksaw and replace the piping.