The typical homeowner or business owner assumes his irrigation system will function as designed without flaw for years or even decades. However, just like any other piece of equipment, some irrigation system maintenance will eventually be necessary. Keep your irrigation system in fantastic condition and it will pay you back with years of efficient watering that conserves water as well as your savings. Let’s take a look at some helpful tips to maintain your irrigation system.
Maintaining an Irrigation System: Perform a Regular Checkup
Take a close look at your irrigation system at least a couple times per season. The first check should occur at the start of the season when you are preparing to turn the irrigation system on. The second check should occur at the season’s halfway point. However, if you can, give your irrigation system a checkup every month. Take a look at the controller to ensure it is firmly plugged in and functional. Correct the date and time. Replace the backup battery. Ensure the wires and sensors are properly connected. Alter the schedule for the needs of the current season and the condition of your landscape. Finally, turn on each individual zone to check for system damage.
Mind the Sprinkler Heads
Do not assume your irrigation system’s sprinkler heads are in perfect shape and will function to perfection. As time progresses, the odds of sprinkler heads breaking or sinking dramatically increases. These heads endure damage from lawn mowers, shifting of the soil, improper installation and regular wear and tear. Properly maintaining an irrigation system involves replacing those damaged or missing heads prior to watering. It is prudent to install sprinkler heads on a swing pipe so they can “float” within the soil and prove less susceptible to damage.
Check for and Remedy Spray Head Leaks
As time progresses, debris and dirt gradually wear away at the wiper seal. The result is often one or several leaks around the upper portion of the spray head. If the spray head is comprised of a single unit, a replacement of the entire head is necessary. Certain types of spray heads can be removed for an easy replacement.
Flush the System
Be sure to flush the system at the start of the season. The initial point of the irrigation system must be flushed to prevent clogging. Otherwise, debris will inevitably breach the irrigation system and clog the nozzles. Even regular wear and tear or a contaminated water source can clog the nozzles. Aside from flushing the system, you should also install screens on each of the sprinkler heads, take measures to enhance the system filtration and replace any nozzles that have become clogged.
Sweat the Small Stuff to Maintain Your Irrigation System
Even something as minor as a misaligned head can cause the over-watering of certain portions of your landscape or unsightly brown sections. Be sure to realign your sprinkler heads exactly as instructed by the manufacturer. Some sprinkler heads might have settled as time progressed. If the soil is packed around the sprinkler heads, heavy lawn mowers and other equipment will result in settling. Even the buildup of lawn clippings and random debris can disturb the heads’ spray patterns. Be sure to raise these heads to the proper height with the use of tall sprinkler bodies. You can also accomplish this clipping away the grass by the sprinkler heads or with the installation of risers.
Former U.S. Coast Guard and Tampa-native Joseph Swett is the owner of Sunrise Irrigation, a Palm Harbor-based company that has been providing sprinkler and irrigation services in the Tampa Bay Area, Florida, for more than 20 years. A RainBird-trained landscape specialist, Mr. Swett is dedicated to helping Florida homes and businesses implement effective irrigation technologies and transition towards smart water conservation. In his spare time, Joe sponsors and plays in two men’s softball leagues, but also enjoys surfing and going fishing with his family.