With temperatures on the rise as we head into the summer months, it’s a good idea to ensure your irrigation system gets a tune-up to perform its best in the coming months. Catching any problems that may have developed over the colder months will keep your sprinklers operating at peak performance and prevent future system problems that may lead to costly repairs. Let’s go over a few things you can do to tune up your underground sprinkler system to maintain a healthy lawn, counteract water waste, and avoid high water bills.
Remove any dirt or insect habitats that may have developed on the controllers during the winter. While you’re at it, change the backup battery to ensure you’re well-charged. This should be done every six months, in the spring and fall. Double-check that the right date and times are shown, then program your system for your warmer-months schedule.
During the event of a power outage, the most up-to-date systems include a backup battery that keeps the memory of the schedule intact. These batteries are generally designed to last for many years and do not require yearly changes. Other new controllers don’t have a removable battery and keep the programming, date, and time in the device memory.
Make sure the sensors are working as they should be and are in the correct working position. If there are rain or freeze sensors, make sure the housing mechanism is free of debris. Next, check the condition of the discs. If they have mold or are warped, they are no longer useable and need to be replaced. If they have internal batteries, make sure they are changed as recommended by the manufacturer.
Inspect the sprinkler heads for obstructions, such as rocks, dirt, mulch, or overgrown grass. Shrubs and bushes near the heads will need to be cut back if they could block water flow to the zone. Ensure they are all at the right height for optimal watering, at the correct angle for lawn slopes, and that none of them are leaning or wobbling.
Sprinklers and nozzles with chips, cracks or excessive wear will need to be replaced with the same brand and model, or they could cause bigger issues long-term. Damage to sprinkler heads can happen easily, so check them every couple of months to make sure they aren’t in need of an upgrade.
Valves oversee the distribution of your water efficiently for your irrigation system. If a valve is leaking, it not only wastes water, but it can make your water bill sky high. Before you start the water in the irrigation system, close the drain valves to avoid water waste. If you notice excessive moisture, mud, or bare patches, you most likely have a leaky valve.
The valve boxes should be clear of debris and any overgrown vegetation. Check the valve assemblies for any damage, loose or broken wires, and cracks. Replace any missing lids or damaged boxes.
Backflow Prevention Assembly (BPA)
The Backflow Prevention Assembly (BPA) will need to be checked for any damages that could have occurred during the colder months. Any standing water, broken ball valves, or a warped body could prevent the internal parts from working correctly. If you spot a leak, make sure to turn off the water supply to the device at the shutoff valve.
If your system hasn’t run all winter, remove the sprinkler head at the end of each zone to create a flush point. When the system is first turned on, sweep any debris or insects that may have accumulated in the off-season. Run each zone long enough for a thorough flush, and to give any leaks a chance to make themselves known.
To start the system, open the isolation valve to restore water to the system and allow pipes to fill slowly to prevent water hammer (a high-pressure shock wave that can cause damage to the valve and burst pipes). Check that the test cocks are closed completely (if they were partially opened during a freeze or all of winter), open the ball valves completely, and tighten any bolts on relief covers of reduced pressure zone BPAs.
Once your inspection and any necessary repairs have been tackled, program your controllers with the irrigation schedule based on the season you’re in and your local watering mandates.
Keeping your yard and plants watered at proper levels makes all the difference in keeping your curb appeal at the top of its game, so when you need replacement parts or are looking to install your own system, come see us at the Big Tool Box in Parker or Centennial and get the parts you need.
Visit our Lawn and Sprinkler Center for more information.
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