How to Repair a Sprinkler
By Avery Lewis
, last updated February 9, 2011
Repairing your sprinkler can be easy, and definitely worth it when it comes to improving the exterior of your whole house. Before calling on your sprinkler repairman (and waste a lot money), you might want to consider the following steps. Who knows, maybe it can help you fix the sprinkler system all by yourself.
Learn the Basics
Fixing your sprinkler will be a lot easier if you have a basic understanding of its types, component parts and the system on how it works. This will help you in assessing the problem and will save you a lot of time and effort.
There are different types of sprinklers but the most common are revolving, oscillating and in-ground. Revolving sprinklers have a base, a column and two revolving arms. It is generally used in small gardens and landscaping as it has a low-flow rate. Oscillating sprinklers, on the other hand, is commonly oblong and with a spray tube that has many different nozzles. Its pattern is usually rectangular or square, and is used in medium to large-sized areas. The in-ground type of sprinkler is automatic, has a timer, programmed by zones and is installed by professionals. It covers the front, back and sides of the house and is also used in gardening and landscaping.
A sprinkler system is usually composed of piping, plumbing components and control fittings. The system starts with water being pumped from the source into the underground pipes. A control valve then regulates the flow of water as it is being distributed into the different zones. Each of the zones usually has six heads, but it can have more or less depending on the water pressure. The heads are properly spaced to make sure all areas are covered. To program the watering, a timer is connected to the control valve. In some units, a rain sensor is available to prevent the sprinkler from running during or after a rain. There are also units that come with a remote control, which is very useful when adjusting the sprinkler heads.
Fixing the Sprinkler
Now that you have a general idea of how a sprinkler system works, we can begin figuring out where the problem lies and what is in need of repair. Once the assessment is completed, the rest of the work will be relatively easy. However, it still needs some effort to accomplish.
In general, there are two things you can check for problems in your sprinkler: the main pipe line and the sprinkler head. Of the two, broken sprinkler heads are more common and easier to fix than repairing broken irrigation pipes which can be a bit tasking, but still very doable.
Repairing irrigation pipes is simple so there is no need to hire someone to do the job. You can do it yourself. There are many reasons why a pipe can break. Lawn aeration and misplacement of shovel blade are the most common causes. Freezing and downward pressure coming from heavy rocks lying above can also lead to pipe breakage.
For fixing broken pipes, first determine where the damaged portion is. You can find this by locating the pool of water in the lawn. Cut water supply from the sprinkle main. Sprinklers are commonly attached with two water pipelines: one is connected to the water source in your home, while the other is below the ground attached to the sprinkler. If you have no idea what the main looks like, it is the one not going into the home. Dig the soil near the affected part enough to reach the damaged pipe. Using a pipe cutter or a hack saw, remove the broken section of the pipe. Be sure to make straight cuts or else you will have a bad connection when your line is fixed. Connect the ends with an expansion repair coupling. When the two pipes are tightly fixed, clean any dirt or water outside your piping and apply adhesive (PVC Blue glue). Wait until the adhesive is dried completely (about 10-15 minutes) before opening the main line. Check for any water leaks. If none, cover the hole and you can start using your sprinkler.
Sprinkler heads are generally black in color, about one to two inches wide and situated at your lawn’s outer edge. It is usually damaged by lawnmower blades when you are mowing the lawn. Before replacing your sprinkler head it is important to know the identity of its manufacturer, model number and the size of the nozzle, so you will be sure that the head you will buy to replace the old one are the same.
To repair a sprinkler head, excavate the soil around it to allow yourself room to work. Unscrew the nuts that fasten the sprinkler head, but be careful not to pull the riser out. If you find difficulty in doing this, use pliers to hold the riser in place. Avoid dirt or any debris from getting into the riser as this can cause blockages in water flow and will further cause damages in the sprinkler line. Fit the new head and screw it down to the riser. Test the new sprinkler head if it is functioning and cover the hole.
Sprinkler systems are a necessity if you want to maintain the beauty and lustrousness of your garden and lawn. However, like any other piece of equipment, it needs regular maintenance as it gets worn out with time. Repairing your sprinkler system can be quite easy as long as you identify the problem correctly. The things presented here are just an overview of how to repair sprinkler systems. Following these simple steps, you can fix your own sprinklers in the easiest, fastest and cheapest way.