Turning on your Lawn Sprinkler System-Spring Startup Video

In the Spring, I always get calls about  the various steps in the process of turning on a sprinkler system.

In most areas, sprinkler systems get winterized in the fall. This means the water will be off and drained from your sprinkler system.

 

To begin, find your backflow preventer.  This is usually found on the outside of the house. It will typically have two ball valves and some pepcock valves.
Using a screw driver, make sure the pepcock valves are closed. Close the ball valves, sometimes you will need channel lock pliers to do this.
Now you’re ready to turn on the water to […]

In the Spring, I always get calls about  the various steps in the process of turning on a sprinkler system. In most areas, sprinkler systems get winterized in the fall. This means the water will be off and drained from your sprinkler system.

Below the Video there are written instructions and pictures.


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Written Instructions Below

In most areas, sprinkler systems get winterized in the fall. This means the water will be off and drained from your sprinkler system.

 

  1. To begin, find your backflow preventer.  This is usually found on the outside of the house. It will typically have two ball valves and some pepcock valves.
  2. Using a screw driver, make sure the pepcock valves are closed. Close the ball valves, sometimes you will need channel lock pliers to do this.
  3. Now you’re ready to turn on the water to the sprinkler system. Always remember to fill your sprinkler lines slowly. The valve to turn on the water is usually near your water meter inside the house. Turn the valve handle slowly to fill the lines between there and the backflow preventer.
  4. Once the line is filled, go to the backflow preventer and open the lower ball valve. This is the one closest to the water source on the backflow preventer. This will close the check valve and supply water to the second ball valve on the backflow. Sometimes water will dump from the top or bottom of the backflow preventer. This is normal.
  5. Turn on the second ball valve 1/3 of a turn and fill your mainline. This is the line between your backflow and the irrigation valves. Remember to fill the line slowly to prevent a hammer on the mainline.
  6. One way to check and make sure your mainline is charged (full of water) is that you will no longer hear a hissing sound and the dial on the water meter will be still. (As long as no one in the house is using water.)

Programming your controller is next. All controllers have the same basic functions.

  • Time and Current Date (Remember to look at the am and pm)
  • Program Start Times (Most sprinkler systems run on one start time. If you have a drip zone this will need to run at different times than the turf zones)
  • Station Run Time
  • Advance Cycles (This is the days that it will run, Odd/Even, Custom or Cycle)

 

The most common mistakes made when programming the controller is having the current time off by twelve hours and having the program start times entered incorrectly. If your controller was plugged in all winter it may remember the settings, but it is best to check. If you have a battery installed, now would be a good time to replace it.

 

  1. Turn on each zone individually or in test mode and check your zones outside as they run. Always check for leaks.
  2. While each zone is running, check each sprinkler head, making sure it is operating and spraying correctly.
  3. Open all of the irrigation valve boxes and check for leaks while the irrigation system is running.
  4. I always tell my customers that rotor heads run for 20 to 30 Min, and spray heads run for 10 to 18 min. Also remember that the north side and shady parts of the yard may not need as much time to water and sunny areas may need more time. This will help your yard stay greener and save water.

 

Water shooting in the air, standing water, and bulges in the turf are all signs of a problem. If this happens, turn the water off to the system so that it doesn’t waste water until it is repaired. That should do it, I hope this helped and that you enjoy a long trouble-free season after turning on your sprinkler system.

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Wireless & Wired Rain Sensors For Sprinkler Systems

Did you know that most of the homes in America that have sprinkler systems, use 50% or more water per household to irrigate their yard? Thats a lot of water!  If we are able to save water with these sprinkler systems that amounts to millions of gallons saved every day.  I will touch on one way the homeowner can help save water and therefore money.
Over the years I have seen the Rainbird Sprinkler Co. go to great lengths to help our industry provide water saving tips and products for our customers.  I will touch on just one area and that […]

Did you know that most of the homes in America that have sprinkler systems, use 50% or more water per household to irrigate their yard? Thats a lot of water!  If we are able to save water with these sprinkler systems that amounts to millions of gallons saved every day.  I will touch on one way the homeowner can help save water and therefore money.

Over the years I have seen the Rainbird Sprinkler Co. go to great lengths to help our industry provide water saving tips and products for our customers.  I will touch on just one area and that is rain sensors. Rainbird makes three different rain sensor / rain shutoff accessories that disable our lawn sprinkler system from watering during or after a sufficient rainfall.   Listed below, I will discuss the differences, the ease of installation, and some difficulties that you may come across during installation.

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The first is the RSD – BEx Rain Sensor (Rainbird).  TRainbird Rain Sensorhis sensor has moisture sensing disks that soak up the rainfall to determinewhen to disable your sprinkler system.  It has multiple rainfall settings from 1/8” – 3/4” that are easy to set.  It has an adjustable vent ring that helps control drying time.  This can be used with almost any controller on themarket old or new.  Hint: if you have a old controller that has no connections for the rain sensor, cut your common wire at the controller connect one wire from the rain sensor to it and connect the second wire to the other cut common wire.

 

  • Easy to install (hang it on the rain gutter or fence post)
  • Easy to use
  • Rugged, last for several years although the water absorbing disks may rust and/or wear out.
  • Needs to be cleaned every year, especially if you have a lot of trees
  • The wire that comes with it can be hard to hide, not long enough at times, and needs to be hung on the side of the house most of the time.
  • Costs $20.00 to $45.00
  • Sometimes your soil (depending on your type) will dry before the absorbing disks dry.

 

Next is the Rain Check (Rainbird).  This automatic rain shutoff sensor catches rain water in a collector pan and the stainless steel sensing probes trigger the shutoff.  The stainless steel probes adjust down into the collector pan to measure rainfall and can shutoff the system with as little as 1/8” rain fall.  The water in the collector pan evaporates and the sprinkler system will run again.  Works with almost all controllers.

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to install (installs like the RSD – BEx)
  • Rugged-lasts a long time.
  • Has the same problems with wiring as the RSD – BEx.
  • Collection pan dries out fast after shutdown.
  • Needs to be cleaned more often especially if you have a lot of trees.
  • I have seen strong winds blow the water out of the collection pan so take note of where most of your strong winds blow from during the summer when installing.
  • Costs $60.00 to $75.00.

 

Last is the WR2 Wireless Rain/Freeze Sensor.   Wireless sensors have come along way over the years and there very reliable know.  This one will automatically sense rainfall and temperature events.  It has a rainfrall indicator with 6 rainfall set points from 1/8” to 1/2” and will illustrate approximate amount of rainfall relative to the rainfall set point.  Select from three set points for the freeze sensor.  You can also suspend irrigation.  You will need to read all of the instructions during installation.  I personally like this one the most.

  • Easy to install
  • Easy to program
  • Do not have to hide any wires.
  • Needs be cleaned once a year or more.
  • Need to change the battery every year.
  • Read all of the instructions.
  • It runs on 24 volts so it needs to be wired to the controller for power.
  • Do not place sensitive electronics in close proximity to the controller interface on sensor.  You may need to protect electronic devices.
  • Cost $65.00 to $95.00.

 

Are you tired of paying for Sprinkler Maintenance & Repairs?

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Sprinkler Head Risers Are A Problem

A sprinkler head riser is a 1/2″ threaded nipple that can be cut to length to connect the sprinkler head directly to your lateral line. This is old-school technology. If your sprinkler system has these and you have not had a leak yet, you will. When a zone comes on and there is a stream of water shooting straight into the air and your sprinkler head is lying in the yard, you most likely have sprinkler head risers.
To solve this problem, install a swing joint. Dig up the leak and where the sprinkler head riser connects to your lateral line, […]

A sprinkler head riser is a 1/2″ threaded nipple that can be cut to length to connect the sprinkler head directly to your lateral line. This is old-school technology. If your sprinkler system has these and you have not had a leak yet, you will. When a zone comes on and there is a stream of water shooting straight into the air and your sprinkler head is lying in the yard, you most likely have sprinkler head risers.

To solve this problem, install a swing joint. Dig up the leak and where the sprinkler head riser connects to your lateral line, remove it. Install a 1/2″ or 3/4″ swing pipe ell to the fitting in the lateral line and on the bottom of sprinkler head. Attach a piece of swing pipe at least 12″ long to the swing pipe ell at the lateral line, and to the ell on your sprinkler head. Bury your head and adjust it. This will prevent the joint from breaking in the future, unless something extreme happens to it, such as being run over by a vehicle.

See Also:

Spray Head Adjustment-Video

Rotor Head Adjustment-Video

Sprinkler Repair Video Guide

Sprinkler Winterization – Protect your sprinkler system from freezing.

If you live in the north part of the country, one necessary sprinkler maintenance that most people don’t have the equipment to do themselves, is winterizing the sprinkler system. Sometimes, before your sprinkler contractor can get to your house, there will be a hard freeze called for on the evening news. When this happens, you can prevent a very costly repair, by protecting the backflow preventer and parts that are above ground, usually on the side of your house. This is easily done, by turning off the water to your sprinkler system and manually turning on one zone. This will […]

If you live in the north part of the country, one necessary sprinkler maintenance that most people don’t have the equipment to do themselves, is winterizing the sprinkler system. Sometimes, before your sprinkler contractor can get to your house, there will be a hard freeze called for on the evening news. When this happens, you can prevent a very costly repair, by protecting the backflow preventer and parts that are above ground, usually on the side of your house. This is easily done, by turning off the water to your sprinkler system and manually turning on one zone. This will relieve the pressure on the backflow preventer. Then take a blanket and drape it over the backflow preventer or anti-siphon valve and letting it hang to the ground. This will prevent the pipe and sprinkler parts from freezing and cracking. Your sprinkler heads and lines that are in the ground should be kept warm enough by the ground. This is just temporary until you can your sprinkler lines blown out properly.

You can blow out/winterize a sprinkler system yourself