Most Common Sprinkler Repairs

Posted on: September 18, 2015

An underground automatic sprinkler system is a wonderful, time-saving device, as long as it is working properly. How much more convenient is it to just program a timer to come on when you want, water where you want, and go off at just the right time, than to do things the manual way. Dragging unwieldy hoses across the yard, straightening the kinks out of the hose, having to dash between revolutions to get from the faucet to the back porch, all those things are such a nuisance. Then you also have to remember to turn it off again, or have a swimming hole instead of a front lawn. However, things can go wrong with even the best sprinkler systems. Take a look at some common problems and what you can do to fix them.

No Water Coming From Your Sprinkler Heads

The sprinklers were supposed to come on five minutes ago, but nothing is happening. You’ve checked the timer and it appears to be OK. You even went out and poked at one of the sprinkler heads, but nothing happened. What could be the problem?

Well, it could be the programmer. Something could be amiss with the programming or the wiring. Or it could be as simple as forgetting to change the clock to, or back from, Daylight Savings Time.

It could be that roots have worked their way inside the water pipes and have blocked them so completely that no water can get through. You may have to call a professional to fix this issue.

There could be a broken pipe somewhere along the line. Look for a puddle somewhere in the lawn. That’s where the break is most likely to be.

Another thing to consider is, is there sufficient water pressure to handle all the sprinklers, the dishwasher, the washing machine, and the shower all at the same time? You may need to stagger the water usage if water pressure is a problem.

Depending on your handyman skill level, you can fix some or all of these issues yourself. For others, you may need the help of a professional.

Sprinkler Leaks

Leaks were touched on briefly above. A couple of things can cause leaky pipes. One is old, worn-out pipes that just wear through. Another is pipes freezing in the winter. If there is a spot where the lawn may have been driven over, that may have broken a pipe. A leak is usually obvious by the wet spot in the grass when you haven’t watered for a few days.

One Sprinkler Head Doesn’t Work

If it’s just one head that isn’t working, the fault probably isn’t with your system. Sprinkler heads can be damaged in a variety of ways. They can be damaged by cold weather, by being run over by a lawn mower, or just by being stepped on. Usually they will either not work at all, or spray water erratically. This is remedied by just replacing the sprinkler head.

The Sprinkler Head Doesn’t Retract

Most systems use sprinkler heads that pop up when the water comes on, and then retract when the water shuts off. This allows the heads to lay flat so a person doesn’t trip over them or damage them with the lawn mower, or damage the mower blades. If a sprinkler head doesn’t retract properly, check underneath it to see if something is holding it up. Usually it will be lawn debris, grass clippings, wood chips, or maybe even an acorn or pinecone, depending on the type of trees in your yard. Just clean out the debris, and usually the sprinkler head with go right down.

Clogged Sprinkler Head

Probably the most common problem with sprinkler heads is clogging. They can get clogged with grass clippings, leaves, or whatever your kids may have poked in there. They are easy to spot because there will either be no water coming out, or it will be just a trickle, or with an erratic spray pattern. To clean a clogged head, be sure the water is turned off. Use a piece of stiff wire, such as a straightened paper clip, to poke into the hole. If that doesn’t do it, remove the sprinkler head, soak it in water, then clean, and replace. Be sure to clean out the sleeve that it fits into before you put it back on.

Stuck Sprinkler Valves

If the water doesn’t shut off when it’s supposed to, the shutoff valve may be blocked with a pebble or other debris. Home sprinkler systems often have a shutoff valve at each end. You will need to check both of them. Unscrew the solenoid, a cap-like thing on the side, let water flow out for a little bit, and then screw it back on.

Obstructed Sprinkler Head

Sometimes a sprinkler head can become overgrown with grass or covered with leaves. You may forget where each one is and set something on top of one. Occasionally it’s a good idea to count sprinkler heads to see if they are all working. If one is missing, locate it and clear away the obstruction. When you are placing items in the yard, such as planters, garden statues, or even a trash can, be sure you aren’t putting it on top of a sprinkler head.

Overspray From Your Sprinkler System

You should watch your sprinklers now and then to be sure they are adjusted to the right spray pattern. Dirt won’t grow, and neither will asphalt. Watering the side of your house or garage won’t do it any good, either. If the water is overshooting the area you want watered, just adjust the spray reach, if possible. Many sprinkler heads have a small screw at the top of the nozzle that controls the spray pattern. Just turn it to suit your needs. If the sprinkler head can’t be adjusted, you may need to replace it with one that has a more suitable spray pattern.

If you encounter sprinkler system issues that you are unable to diagnose or repair yourself, call us and we’ll be happy to send one of our professionals out to help you.