Let’s talk about how to do some system adjustments and trouble shooting. As a professional landscape company one of the tasks that we cover is sprinkler system maintenance. This usually is included in all of our commercial accounts and some residential accounts (many residential properties choose to do this themselves) the following is a check list of tasks that should be completed each spring.

Spring start up

  • Turn on the back flow device and check for leaks, be careful when you put your hand in the box, watch out for spiders!
  • Open up the valve box and dig out the dirt that the gophers have filled it with, run the valve manually by opening the air bleed screw or by turning the solenoid counter clockwise, check the wire connections making sure they are secure.
  • Run the system either by the controller or manually at the field valve and use flags or some form of marking to indicate a problem with the head.
  • Use a shovel and if the head is cocked or has been run over by the mower a few too many times, dig it up completely and re-set it so that it is level and in the proper place.
  • Check for proper spray pattern from the nozzles on pop up heads Rain bird 1800 or Hunter Pro Spray, possibly Toro 570 and maybe even an old Irritrol sprinkler head, they are all about the same in form just not in quality.
  • Gear driven rotors like Rain Bird 3500 or 5000, Hunter PGP or PGJ (by the way the Hunter PGP is the best selling longest lasting sprinkler ever, I installed them over 25 years ago and they are still running in many commercial projects.
  • Check the rotation of the head by turning on and watching it, usually if a head is not turning it is a throw away.
  • On rotors check the spray pattern this can be adjusted at the nozzle using the key on Hunter or screw driver on Rain Bird to adjust the set screw to open up or close the spray length (not to be confused with direction)
  • Rotor direction of rotation on both the Hunter or Rain Bird or K-Rain or equivalent big box sprinkler is easily done with a screw driver or sprinkler tool.

Trouble shooting suggestions

  • Check the nozzles in rotors if they are older the nozzles can wear over time and open up putting out to much water thus affecting their coverage, replace as needed.
  • If the system has low pressure you most likely have a leak somewhere, if not visible after a few minutes water will work its way up and you can trace it from that direction. If you have low pressure and no leaks there could be a problem at the valve.
  • If a valve is stuck on, or water won’t turn off even with the controller off, you may have a rock stuck in the valve, or debris that is blocking the diaphragm from closing down. Turn off the water at the backflow device so that you can open up the valve, be careful don’t lose the screws.
  • If the controller is on and the water won’t turn on check the connections at the wire nuts on the valve, or the solenoid could be faulty, replace with new.
  • In older landscapes some plants will overgrow an area blocking the sprinkler, either trim the plant or move the head to ensure consistent coverage of the area.
  • Over the years landscapes will evolve, thus the sprinkler system will need some tweaking, do this by adding or moving heads that are not covering properly.
  • Upgrade to a new more modern, capable controller giving your more control over your system.
  • One of the best investments you can make is to add a rain sensor, this small device will shut down the system in the spring and fall with premature unexpected rains, saving money, elevating compaction in grass and root rot in plants.

Of course you could just skip reading all of this and forget it and call us, we will go thru your system and get you up and running in no time.

Tim Barnes,
Westside Landscape
590 Greenwood Rd
Independence, OR 97351
Phone: 503-585-9517
Mobile: 503-991-0285

Tags:DIY General

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