What are 3 Signs of a Bad Irrigation System?
In our experience, a bad irrigation system often manifests itself through three key signs:
- Individual sprinkler heads not working
- Low water pressure at the sprinkler heads
- Sprinkler zones failing to turn on.
When individual sprinkler heads aren’t working, it’s usually due to physical damage or blockage. Sprinkler heads can be damaged by lawnmowers or cars if they are set too high, or they can become clogged with debris. If you notice that the water isn’t spraying correctly or at all, or if the sprinkler head is completely broken off, these are clear signs of a problem.
Low water pressure at the sprinkler heads is another common symptom of a bad irrigation system. This issue can manifest as sprinkler heads that barely spray water or don’t pop up at all. The causes can range from a malfunctioning backflow device to leaks or blockages in the underground irrigation lines.
Next, if your sprinkler zones don’t turn on, it’s often a problem with the electrical signals running from the controller to the valve solenoids. More rarely, it could be due to a faulty valve that needs to be rebuilt or replaced.
Alternatively, check out our comprehensive guide if your sprinklers won’t turn off.
How Do You Troubleshoot a Sprinkler System?
We recommend troubleshooting a sprinkler system through careful observation and a systematic approach.
First, identify the problem. Is it a sprinkler head not working, low water pressure, or a zone not turning on? Once you’ve identified the problem, you can start to diagnose the cause.
If a sprinkler head isn’t working, check for physical damage or blockage. Clean the head of any debris and reset its spray pattern. If it’s still not working, it may need to be replaced.
For low water pressure, check the backflow device to ensure the water valves are fully open. If the problem persists, you may need to check for leaks in the underground irrigation lines or blockages caused by tree roots or compressed soil.
If a zone isn’t turning on, check the voltage at the terminals that feed the wires leading to the valve for the problem zone. If the voltage is too low, you may need to replace the controller. Also, inspect the wires leading from the controller to the zone valve’s solenoid to ensure they are intact and properly connected. If the problem persists, the solenoid or the valve itself may need to be replaced.
What Causes a Sprinkler System to Stop Working?
Several factors can cause a sprinkler system to stop working, including electrical issues, physical damage, and blockages.
Electrical issues often involve the controller or the solenoids on the zone valves. If the controller isn’t sending the correct voltage to the solenoids, or if the wires connecting them are damaged or disconnected, the system won’t work correctly. Similarly, a faulty solenoid can prevent a zone valve from opening.
Physical damage to the sprinkler heads or the underground irrigation lines can also cause the system to stop working. Sprinkler heads can be damaged by lawnmowers or cars, while irrigation lines can be damaged by tree roots or heavy vehicles compressing the soil.
Blockages in the sprinkler heads or the irrigation lines can prevent water from flowing correctly. These blockages can be caused by debris or sediment in the water, or by roots growing into the irrigation lines.
How Do I Test My Lawn Sprinkler System?
Testing your lawn sprinkler system involves checking each component of the system to ensure it’s working correctly.
Start by turning on each zone one at a time and observing the operation of the sprinkler heads. They should pop up fully and spray water evenly. If any heads are not working correctly, check for physical damage or blockage. You may need to clean or replace the heads.
Next, check the water pressure in each zone. If the pressure is low, it could indicate a problem with the backflow device or a leak in the irrigation lines. You may need to inspect the backflow device and the lines to identify the problem.
If a zone isn’t turning on, check the controller and the solenoid on the zone valve. Use a multimeter to check the voltage at the terminals that feed the wires leading to the valve. If the voltage is too low, you may need to replace the controller. Also, inspect the wires to ensure they are intact and properly connected.
Finally, check for leaks around the zone valves and at the sprinkler heads. Leaks can be caused by a damaged diaphragm in the valve, a cracked valve body, or a damaged sprinkler head. You may need to rebuild or replace the valve or the head to fix the leak.
How Do I Know If My Sprinkler Head Is Clogged?
You’ll know your sprinkler head is clogged if it doesn’t pop up fully, if the water spray is uneven or weak, or if it doesn’t spray water at all.
When a sprinkler head is clogged, it’s usually due to debris or sediment in the water. This can block the tiny holes in the sprinkler head, preventing water from spraying out correctly.
To confirm that a sprinkler head is clogged, turn off the system and remove the head. Check the screen inside the head for debris and clean it if necessary. You can also try running water through the head to dislodge any blockage. If the head is still not working correctly after cleaning, it may need to be replaced.
How Do You Pressure Test a Sprinkler Line?
Pressure testing a sprinkler line involves checking the water pressure in the line to ensure it’s within the correct range for your system.
To perform a pressure test, you’ll need a pressure gauge that can be attached to a hose bib or a riser in the sprinkler system. Turn on the system and observe the reading on the gauge. The pressure should be within the range recommended by the manufacturer of your sprinkler system.
If the pressure is too low, it could indicate a problem with the water supply or a leak in the system. If the pressure is too high, it could cause damage to the sprinkler heads or the irrigation lines. You may need to adjust the pressure regulator or repair the system to correct the problem.
How Do I Know If My Sprinkler Line Is Broken?
Signs of a broken sprinkler line include unusually soggy areas of lawn, pooling or gurgling water, and low water pressure at the sprinkler heads.
A broken line can cause water to leak out into the surrounding soil, resulting in soggy patches of lawn. If the break is large, water may pool on the surface or even gurgle up from the ground.
Low water pressure at the sprinkler heads can also indicate a broken line. If the line is broken, water will leak out before it reaches the heads, resulting in low pressure.
If you suspect a broken line, you’ll need to locate the break and repair it. This usually involves digging up the line and replacing the broken section.
How Do I Find My Sprinkler Master Valve?
The sprinkler master valve is usually located in a valve box set at ground level near the main water source. It’s the first valve in the system, and it controls the flow of water to the individual irrigation zones.
The valve box is typically a rectangular or round box made of plastic, and it may be green or black to blend in with the landscape. It may be buriedunder a layer of soil or mulch, so you may need to do a bit of digging to find it.
Once you’ve located the valve box, open the lid and look for the master valve. It should be the first valve on the line coming from the main water source. The master valve may be larger than the zone valves, and it may have a flow control knob that allows you to adjust the flow of water through the valve.
How Do I Reset My Sprinkler System?
Resetting your sprinkler system can often resolve minor glitches or programming issues. To reset your system, you’ll need to follow the specific instructions for your controller model, but the general process is usually similar.
First, locate the controller for your sprinkler system. This is usually a box mounted on a wall in your garage or basement. Look for a reset button or a combination of buttons that initiate a reset. You may need to consult the controller’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions.
After pressing the reset button or buttons, the controller should reboot and return to its default settings. You’ll then need to reprogram the controller with your desired watering schedule.
Remember, resetting the controller will erase all your programmed settings, so make sure you have a record of your watering schedule before you reset the system.
What is the Life Expectancy of a Sprinkler System?
The life expectancy of a sprinkler system can vary greatly depending on the quality of the components, the water quality, and how well the system is maintained. However, a well-maintained system can often last 20 years or more.
The individual components of the system have different life expectancies. Sprinkler heads can last up to 10 to 14 years, while underground PVC pipes can last over 40 years. The controller and valves, which are more susceptible to electrical and mechanical issues, typically need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.
Regular maintenance, including annual inspections and adjustments, can greatly extend the life of your sprinkler system. It’s also important to promptly repair any damage or issues to prevent further problems.
Troubleshooting a sprinkler system can seem daunting, but with a systematic approach and a little patience, you can diagnose and fix many common problems. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs can also help keep your system running smoothly and extend its lifespan. Remember, when in doubt, don’t hesitate to consult a professional.