As summer approaches and the temperatures rise, it’s a good time to make sure your sprinkler system is operating at peak efficiency. Performing a summer maintenance inspection will catch any needed repairs early, helping you save money on water bills and support a healthy lawn.
Here’s a checklist to use for your inspection:
Make sure the controller is set up for summer watering schedules and local watering restrictions. Pre-program the seasonal adjust feature (adjusts watering time by percentage) for automatic adjustments, or manually change the run time percentage for the summer.
Check the rain/freeze sensor for correct placement and any damage. Clean out dead insects and debris and replace the discs if they’re moldy or misshapen. Run a test to verify the sensor is operating properly, and if necessary, change batteries for wireless versions.
Backflow Prevention Assembly (BPA)
Inspect an above-ground BPA for broken ball valves, cracks, leaks, or a warped body. With below-ground BPAs, check for the same type of visible damage to the device. If there’s water in the box, determine the cause (e.g., leaking, or rain).
Valve Boxes and Valves
Check the valve boxes and lids for damage, and repair or replace. Make sure the boxes are clear of overgrown grass and debris so you can easily locate them. Inspect the valve assemblies for cracks and broken or loose wires.
If you find water inside the box, it could be caused by a broken pipe or fitting, rainwater, or a malfunctioning valve. Clear out the water and check the fittings and pipes. Remove dirt or debris in the valve, diaphragm, or solenoid, and replace the solenoid if the plunger won’t move easily. For a damaged diaphragm, you can buy a rebuild kit with a replacement diaphragm. You’ll need a new valve if it’s ruptured, or if the seat is pitted or scratched.
Examine the sprinkler heads in each zone, and remove any obstructions such as overgrown grass, dirt, rocks, or mulch that could clog the nozzles. Also look for broken or cracked sprinklers. Use the same model and brand in each zone when replacing.
Straighten any leaning sprinklers and adjust ones that are too high or too low. High sprinklers can be run over by lawn mowers and vehicles and are a tripping hazard. The low ones can’t pop up over the grass, resulting in flooding around the head and dryness in that area of the lawn. The top of the sprinkler heads also need to be at the correct angle for the lawn slope. And cut back bushes or shrubs that have grown during the spring and will block a sprinkler’s water flow.
Manually Run Zones
Manually run each zone, and look for the following:
- Pop-up sprinklers not extending completely. Check for and clean out any dirt and debris caught in the gap between the pop-up riser and sprinkler cap that’s causing the riser to jam part way up. The sprinklers also might not pop up fully if the water pressure is too low. Make sure the valves on the BPA are open fully and look for any pipe leaks affecting water pressure.
- Pop-up sprinklers not retracting completely. Clean out dirt and debris in the gap between the pop-up riser and the sprinkler cap.
- Pop-up sprinklers leaking. If the leak is near the top, make sure the cap is screwed on tight. Leakage between the riser and cap when the riser is fully extended could mean the riser seal is bad, or the riser or cap are scratched. Replace the seal, but if the riser or cap are scratched you should replace the sprinkler. Water leaking below the sprinkler could mean a ruptured body, broken threads connecting the sprinkler to the riser, or the riser to the zone line. Often a sprinkler leaks because of a zone valve problem.
- Pop-up spray sprinklers with uneven spray pattern. Remove and clean filters and nozzles. Nozzles scratch easily — it may be easier to replace them since they’re inexpensive.
- Pop-up rotor sprinklers not rotating or shooting water the right distance. The filters need to be cleaned. Replace the rotor if this doesn’t resolve the problem.
- Water flow is small, misty, or foggy. Water pressure is too low or too high.
- Sprinkler coverage not head-to-head (where water from each sprinkler sprays all the way to the next one in each direction). For spray and rotary nozzles turn the radius adjustment screw to increase or decrease the radius. Adjust rotors the same way. You may have to change nozzles or sprinkler layout to get the correct overlap.
- Sprinkler low head drainage. Install a check valve on the lowest head in the zone to stop drainage of residual water after the zone shuts down. You can also replace the sprinkler with one that has the check valve built-in.
- Broken and leaking pipes. Look for:
- Water shooting up into the air or bubbling up from the ground.
- Wet, soft, or sunken ground areas.
- Spurts or pools of water around sprinklers.
- Sprinkler heads spraying or shooting little water, or not popping up to full height.
- Zone not shutting down. This could be a controller problem, or a stuck valve caused by debris or damage inside. The solenoid might also be shorted or damaged and should be replaced.
Before inspecting your drip system, run it for 20-30 minutes to allow time for the emitter wetting patterns to become clearly visible. Then work through these points:
- Make sure the water pressure is correct.
- Look for leaks and line breaks, and flag for repair.
- Check for kinks in the main and spaghetti tubing.
- Look for clogged, broken and missing emitters. Clean and replace once the system stops running.
- Check the wet soil pattern around plants. At least half the root zone area should be covered — 100 percent coverage is preferred.
- Flush the lines either using a flush valve or by removing a hose-end clamp at the bent end of the main line. Wait until the water runs clear. Examine the water for sand, pebbles, and debris, which may indicate failed filters or a break in the line.
- Inspect and clean the filter. Replace if necessary.
- For plants that have grown, move the emitters out from the base and original planting area. Add emitters or micro-sprays for new plants. You may need to buy more distribution and spaghetti tubing
Call us at (512) 534-7449 or fill out our online service request form to book an inspection and tune-up.