Sprinkler System Maintenance, What Should I Know?

sprinkler system

Many people use an automatic sprinkler system to water their lawn. For the most part, all one has to do is set the timer and the system will take care of the rest.

For sprinkler systems that are located in the northern parts of the country, it is important to blow out the system in the fall with compressed air. This helps to remove water from the lines so freeze damage does not occur. It also means that the sprinkler system has to be turned on for the following spring, but that is fairly simple. Open a valve, reset the timer and away it goes.

If only it were as simple as flipping a switch and it is done. If your sprinkler system is more than 5 years old, there is a good chance that the controller is out of date and does not have the latest in sprinkler technology. If it is not a “smart” controller, then your system is probably wasting water. The “smart” controllers have the ability to determine how much water your lawn and landscape requires on a daily basis. The use of rain sensors and in-ground moisture sensors are well worth the investment.

sprinkler start-up

Every year, companies that manufacture sprinkler systems come out with new, more efficient designs for spray heads and rotors. Installing more efficient designs will provide water in a more efficient manner. The nozzles that are an integral part of spray heads and rotors wear out over time and should be changed. The newer versions have the ability to reduce water usage while increasing uniformity.

A common problem with many sprinkler systems are leaks…

Common areas where sprinkler systems see leaks:

  • water lines
  • valves
  • fittings
  • spray heads
  • rotors

That is why a sprinkler system should be checked every spring by a professional service. They have the equipment, knowledge and experience to fix these problems. Even if only 1 cup of water is leaking per minute, which can result in a water waste of over 19,000 gallons over a normal 30 week period that most sprinklers are working.

Some of these types of repairs may seem simple, such as unscrewing a broken spray head and replacing it with a new one, but what happens if the supply line is damaged? Digging up the lawn to fix the break is a difficult task without the proper knowledge or tools. The same is true when faced with repairing a solenoid switch within a valve box.

Having your sprinkler system turned on by a professional is a good thing, but so is a mid-season tune up. Sprinkler heads can go out of alignment as the year progresses. Most people set their timers for the water to come on in the early morning. This lessens the chance of seeing where the water may not be missing or watering the street or driveway instead of your lawn. Water can be expensive, so make sure it stays on the lawn and doesn’t run into the storm drains.

Spring-Green offers irrigation service in select markets. Contact your Neighborhood Lawn Care Professional to inquire about this and all the beneficial services that Spring-Green offers.

5 Tips For A Successful Sprinkler Start-Up

sprinkler 2

Most of the United States is experiencing a lot of rain so far this year. With the only exception (Spring-Green service area) being the Pacific Northwest. Just Make sure to not let all this rain  keep you from remembering to turn on your sprinkler system.  As it is said, out of sight, out of mind.

This is a perfect time to recharge your sprinkler system. There are numerous do-it-yourself YouTube videos that show different ways to get your system up and running again.

Remember these 5 sprinkler start-up tips:

  1. Depending on where you live, one of the first things you have to do is reinstall the backflow preventer, especially in the northern areas of the U.S. This may seem like a simple process, but unless you have the right tools, it can be a real challenge.
  2. If you are able to reinstall the back flow preventer, then you need to know the correct procedure to follow when recharging the sprinkler lines. When you watch the videos, it seems easy enough, but if done incorrectly, you could cause damage to your system.
  3. If you get past the previous step without incident, then you need to check each zone to make sure the sprinkler heads, nozzles and rotors are all functioning properly. Along with those parts, you need to make sure the valves are functioning correctly and turning on and off the different zones.
  4. If a valve is not functioning properly, there are re-build kits available. However, you run the risk of losing one of the 10 little pieces when taking the valve apart which can be frustrating.
  5. Remember to check with your state’s requirements regarding the start of your system.  In some states, like Illinois, you need a licensed plumber to start up your system.

Unless you have more than a working knowledge of how the system works, you could be spending a good deal of time going back and forth to the sprinkler supply store getting parts. It would be well worth the money to have a professional company take care of the start-up procedures of your sprinkler system. Contact your local Spring-Green to see if they offer irrigation services.

Get Smart with your Sprinkler System

July is Smart Irrigation Month

Did you know that July is Smart Irrigation Month? The Irrigation Association dedicated this month to smart practices for your sprinkler system, which makes sense since July tends to be the hottest month of the year due to scorching temperatures and high humidity.

The initiative was started in 2005, focusing on providing consumers information on the value of water as well as increase awareness in water saving products, practices and services.

Using water wisely and being efficient when watering, starts with have a properly working and calibrated controller. Today’s controllers have “smart” technology that can determine which zones need more or less water and adapt the run times to water needs and current weather conditions.

sprinkler system control panel

The type of soil in your yard and landscape also plays a major role in how your sprinkler system is set-up. Some soil absorbs water quickly without runoff where as other soil may need to be watered for a short period of time, waiting for the water to be absorbed and then watering the same area again until it has received the correct amount. This process may need to be repeated three or four times to supply the correct amount of water to heavy, compacted soils. In most cases, different zones within your yard are going to need different amounts of water. The amount of water needed changes based on the amount of sun or shade the zone receives, the type and quantity of plant material in each zone and if the area is level or sloped. A good controller will allow you to set each zone to receive the correct amount of water.

Regardless of how efficient your controller is, if the sprinkler heads are not properly aligned or the wrong heads are being used, you will be wasting water. Inspecting your sprinkler system will alert you to water that ends up flowing down sidewalks, driveways and into the street from incorrectly set sprinkler heads. Clogged nozzles can also affect the even distribution of water across a lawn.

A good controller will allow you to set the best times to water. Generally, this is early in the morning. Having your sprinkler system come on at 3 o’clock in the morning is ideal. Overall, there is less water being used at that time, so water pressures should be good. Adding soil moisture probes into the lawn and rain gauges will also improve water efficiency. These tools will reduce the need for water if the amount in the soil is sufficient.

sprinkler system water saving tips

This year has been a strange one in regards to weather. Some areas of the Midwest are experiencing record setting rain levels where other parts of the US are mired in a drought that has lasted three or more years. Regardless of where you live, having a properly functioning sprinkler system will help reduce water usage and save you money.

Contact your local Spring-Green Professional today to learn about how we can help your system reduce water usage and cost.

Maintaining Your Sprinkler System

Spring-Green is now offering sprinkler system services in select markets. We will be providing spring start ups, mid season system evaluations and repairs as well as fall blowouts of the system in markets where this is a requirement in the fall to prevent damage to the water lines when it freezes. I was very interested in a recent article in Lawn and Landscape magazine that referenced seven reasons why people hate sprinkler systems. I never thought about why someone would dislike having a sprinkler system since it seems like such a good idea – being able to water one’s lawn and landscape automatically without having to drag around hoses and setting up sprinklers.

In the article, the author, Alan Harris of ValleyCrest, describes issues, such issues as controllers that are more than 5 years old that do not offer the latest technology and are inefficient, replacing broken heads, and shrubs that have grown and now block spray patterns from reaching the intended area and leaking valves.

In regards to leaking valves, Mr. Harris explained that a valve that is leaking, allowing water to ooze out through the lowest spray head at the rate of ½ gallon of water per minute can ultimately end up wasting over 5,000 gallons of water per week. Even if you are losing only a cup of water per minute, this still equates to water losse of about 630 gallons per week. You multiplye that out by 30 weeks, which is about the average amount of time that a sprinkler system is active, that means adds up to 19,000 gallons of water that is wasted, as well as a good deal of money paying for water that is not providing a benefit.

If you have a sprinkler system, one of the best upgrades that will provide the most cost effective benefits is to invest in a new “smart” controller. These controllers can accurately determine how much water your lawn and landscape requires on a daily basis. Adding a rain sensor to the system along with in-ground soil sensors are well worth the money. Even something as simple as making sure the spray heads and rotors are properly working can save water and make your system more efficient.

Many people set their system to start early in the morning, so they will rarely know if it is truly functioning properly. That is why it is important to have it checked by a professional at least once during the summer. Spray heads and rotors can get clogged or go out of alignment. Sometimes this can be determined when a portion of the lawn does not stay green. It could also mean that the wrong type of head is installed. Having your system checked on a regular basis can save water and can save you money.

If you wish to read Mr. Harris article, you can click here. Look for more information regarding Spring-Green’s new irrigation service from your local Spring-Green Professional.