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Sprinkler Irrigation Tune Ups

Sprinkler Tune-Up Tips & Recommendations

At least every fall and spring you should give your sprinkler system a "tune-up" in Southwest Florida. The “tune up” should take place around the same time as day light savings clock settings are taking place.

Check for problems.

Turn on each valve, one at a time, and carefully inspect your irrigation system. Look for wet spots that indicate there might be a leaking irrigation pipe. Repair any leaks.

Replace controller battery.

Most irrigation controllers have a back-up battery that maintains the time and program during power failures. Typically it is a standard rectangular shaped 9-volt alkaline battery. Check the battery in the irrigation controller.

Check the controller time

Check that the irrigation controller actual time is set correctly (day light savings!!!). The am/pm and that the irrigation Odd/even watering days is set correctly.

Check the rain sensor

Rain sensor should be properly installed and in working condition

Replace any broken or malfunctioning sprinklers.

Be sure to replace broken sprinklers with the same brand and model as the other sprinklers on the same valve zone. If some of the sprinklers are already mis-matched WaterWise Irrigation Solutions recommends replacing them so that all the sprinklers controlled by any single valve are matched.

Do Not Mix & Match Sprinklers

Mixing different brands and types of sprinklers together on the same valve zone is a common mistake made by “do-it-yourselfers”.

Most brands and models of sprinklers are not compatible with any other brands or models. While there are exceptions, most manufacturers use different flow rates in their sprinkler heads than their competitors. (It makes sense doesn’t it? They want you to use their sprinklers for replacements, not the other guys! You can’t use Chevy parts in a Ford either.) Mixing different brands and models of sprinklers together on the same valve zone can result in huge amounts of water wasted. Mixing them is like putting a heavy kid and a light kid on a teeter-totter.

Cleaning spray-type sprinklers

WaterWise Irrigation Solutions recommends cleaning spray-type sprinklers. Start by removing the nozzle from each head and cleaning the screen. The screen will be under the nozzle. Reinstall the filter and put the nozzle back on. Next, turn on the sprinklers and look for partially blocked nozzles. The fan-shaped spray of water out of each nozzle should be even and uniform across the entire width. Uneven gaps in the fan indicate a grain of sand is stuck in the nozzle, remove the nozzle and carefully clean it or replace it.

Adjust spray-type sprinklers

WaterWise Irrigation Solutions recommends adjusting spray-type sprinklers. On top of each spray-type nozzle is a small radius adjustment screw. Turn the adjustment screw to adjust each of your spray-type sprinklers so that they don’t spray onto sidewalks or walls. If spray-type heads are creating a lot of mist try partially closing the adjustment screws on them (turn the screw clockwise to reduce the misting). After adjusting, make sure that the spray from the nozzle still goes all the way to the next sprinkler. When sprinklers are properly spaced and adjusted the water from each sprinkler should spray all the way to the next sprinkler in each direction. This is how sprinklers are designed to be spaced. In the industry we call this "head-to-head spacing".

Spray type irrigation systems

Clean pop-up gear-driven rotors filters

WaterWise Irrigation Solutions recommends only cleaning pop-up gear-driven rotors filters, if there are significant problems with the rotar. Gear driven rotors are identified by the very quiet operation and the water stream that moves smoothly as it rotates. The water stream on a gear-driven rotor always rotates at the same speed. However getting to the filter is difficult, you must unscrew and remove the cap on the top of the rotor. When you remove the cap the nozzle and drive assembly will be attached to it and come out with it. Look for the screen on the bottom of the drive assembly you just pulled out. The problem is that when putting the drive assembly back into the body, you often will get more dirt into the body than you just removed from the screen! Thus the final condition is worse than when you started.

Adjust the rotor-type sprinklers

WaterWise Irrigation Solutions recommends adjusting the rotor-type sprinklers. For rotors the most common adjustment error is to try to create even coverage by breaking up the water stream using the radius adjustment screw. On a typical rotor the radius adjustment screw is located on top of the sprinkler, just in front of the nozzle. When turned the screw drops down into the water stream causing the stream to deform. This deflects the water stream and reduces the distance it shoots from the sprinkler. Most newer rotors give the best, most uniform, coverage when the screw is not touching the water stream at all.

Turn the adjustment screw clockwise until it is touching the water stream (you will notice the stream change shape when the screw contacts it.) Now turn the screw counter-clockwise just enough that it is not touching the stream. This is the proper default position, unless the sprinkler is spraying too far you should leave it in this default position.

Rotor-type irrigation sprinklers

Typical Gear-Drive Rotor Radius Adjustment Screw Locations:
A – Silver screw near edge, above nozzle.
B – Silver screw near edge, above nozzle.
C – Screw under a rubber flap, near edge, above nozzle.
D – Stream rotor nozzle, screw is in center of sprinkler.

Rotor irrigation sprinkler adjustment

On rubber top rotors the adjustment screws are under rubber flaps.
Push the screwdriver through the slits on the rubber cap to reach the screw under the flap.

Once you have completed the recommended tune ups, run a simple sprinkler efficiency test to measure if your sprinklers are providing efficient coverage or if they are overwatering some areas and under watering in other places




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