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Do-it-yourself solutions to irritating irrigation problems
Source:rember chen | Author:cynthia | Publish time: 2017-10-31 | 490 Views | Share:

These simple lawn irrigation system fixes will solve 90 percent of the common breakdowns. You'll save on repair bills and keep your lawn lush and green. No special skills needed.


Sprinkler heads not working? Solution 1: Replace the heads

Dig around the sprinkler head to expose the riser. Unscrew the broken sprinkler head from the riser. Install the new head, turning it tight with your hands.



Broken sprinkler heads are easy to identify. Simply look for cracked or broken plastic casing 
on the heads, heads that don't pop up, or water that sprays wildly or not at all. It's common to find the top of the head completely broken off. This typically happens to heads that are set too high and are run over by vehicles or hit by lawn mowers.

Replacing the head is one of the simplest fixes. Replacement heads are available at home centers and online. Be sure to buy the same type of head that you're replacing.

To change a broken head, turn off the system and dig a 2-ft.-diameter hole around the head. Using a square shovel, slice the sod into easy-to-remove pieces. Set the sod on a tarp so you can set it back into place at the end of the job.

Dig down to the “riser” (the vertical pipe that branches off the main line) which is connected to the sprinkler head. Dig with a light touch to avoid damaging the plastic water line, which is 8 to 12 in. underground.

Turn the head counterclockwise to remove it from the riser. While the head is off, take care not to spill dirt into the riser. Sprinkler heads are installed only hand-tight, but after being in the ground for several years, they may require the use of wrenches to unscrew. If the head doesn't turn easily, hold the riser with slip joint pliers to keep it from twisting loose from the fittings below.

Attach the new sprinkler head by placing it on the riser and turning it hand-tight (photo). Don't use Teflon tape or joint compound on the riser threads. Sprinkler heads are factory tested to make sure they work. As a result, they're often packaged still wet, so don't be surprised to see water in a new head.

Sprinkler heads not working? Solution 2: Clean and reset heads

Disassemble the sprinkler head by unscrewing the top from the canister. Rinse away soil and debris in a bucket of water.

Dirt sometimes gets inside sprinkler heads, causing them to clog up. Clogged heads may rise but fail to spray, not lower after watering, or produce an erratic spray pattern.

To clean the head, dig it out and remove it from the Riser (Photo above). Take the head apart by holding the bottom of the canister and turning the top of the head counterclockwise. Once it's unscrewed, lift it out of the canister (Photo 1).

Remove the plastic screen basket, which serves as a filter, at the base of the head. If you can't pop the basket out with your fingers, pry it out with a flat-head screwdriver or pull it free with a pliers. Rinse the basket in a bucket of clean water, washing out the debris (Photo 2). Clean the rest of the sprinkler head by rinsing it with water. Replace the head on the riser. If it still doesn't work, replace it with a new head. Note: In areas of the country that experience freezing temperatures, polyethylene (poly) pipe is used for the irrigation water lines. PVC pipe is used in areas that don't freeze.

Reset the spray pattern

When putting on a new sprinkler head or using the same head after cleaning, you may need to adjust it to water a specific area. Adjustment methods vary. You can adjust some head types by turning a slot at the top with a screwdriver. Others require a special key that you insert into the head and turn (Photo 3). Some heads also allow you to adjust the spray pattern by turning a tiny screw located next to the nozzle.

Adjust the heads before installing them, then fine-tune them once they're in place with the sprinkler running. First, turn the top clockwise until it stops. That nozzle location is the starting point (the head will turn counterclockwise from there). Adjust the head to set the watering rotation anywhere from 40 degrees to 360 degrees counterclockwise from the starting point. Set the head in the canister. Standing behind the head, align the nozzle with the right edge of the area you want to water, such as along a driveway. Tighten the head in the canister. Carefully backfill the hole and replace the sod.

Turn on the sprinklers at the controller. Allow the head to make a few rotations, then make additional adjustments while the system is running.
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