Here’s How to Perform Irrigation System Maintenance

Homeowners throughout the Cincinnati area use irrigation systems to maintain green grass and water the landscape when weather and rain aren’t cutting it. After you install an irrigation system or sprinkler system, regular maintenance will keep sprinklers, heads, valves, and water lines in top shape and working properly.

Thomas & Galbraith share tips to help you with your irrigation system maintenance needs. Learn to check for signs of leaks, broken or missing heads, and other problems so you can repair or replace them yourself or call in a professional. Find out how to adjust sprinkler heads and set the controller for better performance and save money in the process. When your irrigation equipment is in need of repairs, please reach out and schedule a service appointment with our team.

When to Maintain Irrigation Systems and Sprinkler Heads

Irrigation sprinklers and systems experience seasonal use in the Cincinnati area. These systems are often turned on in the spring to assist with planting, run heavily over the dry summer, and are shut down in the fall once the weather turns cool.

Before you turn on the irrigation system and sprinklers in the spring, have a plumbing professional inspect the system at or prior to the start of the season. During a professional inspection, components such as water lines, valves, and heads are checked for performance and condition. Repairs are made to damaged or missing heads and parts, and heads are aligned to deliver optimal watering in each zone of your lawn.

Beyond this professional inspection, irrigation system maintenance should be part of your regular routine each season. In the spring, summer, and fall, perform system maintenance to care for sprinkler and irrigation components and improve their performance to reduce water waste and save money over the season.

Tips for Irrigation System Maintenance

Over its season of use, irrigation system maintenance is necessary to keep all parts of the system working properly. Regular maintenance allows you to address damage and repair or replace faulty parts and continually tweak the spray and performance of sprinkler heads to save money and keep your grass green.

1. Check and Test Components

Monthly, test the irrigation system. Run it even if the weather and rain have kept your yard sufficiently watered so that you have an opportunity to observe the performance of all parts, especially your sprinkler heads that deliver water in each zone.

  • Check the lawn for dry spots – if there are dry spots in the grass, this can mean one of the heads is clogged or misaligned.

  • Look for saturated soil and soggy ground spots – areas where there is too much water can indicate leaks in lines or valves.

  • Inspect each sprinkler head for clogs and damage – repair clogged heads by cleaning the head or repositioning it, and replace heads that are damaged or have gone missing.

As you test and check irrigation system performance and irrigation components, make note of problem areas. If you identify signs of leaks or damage, call to schedule an appointment for professional repairs. Do not ignore leaks in your irrigation system, as they can lead to excessive water waste.

2. Adjust Sprinkler Head Positions

Sprinkler system heads must be positioned properly to deliver sufficient water to the total yard and landscape. When their position is off, dry spots can quickly form. Because of their position in the grass, heads of sprinklers are commonly damaged and moved without the homeowner’s knowledge due to mowing equipment and people walking across the lawn.

Observe the spray of sprinkler system heads at various points throughout the season and adjust them as necessary to ensure your lawn is watered correctly. Home irrigation systems often use spray heads or rotary heads, or a combination of both. Spray heads spray a constant water stream over a smaller zone while rotary heads move position to send water across a larger zone.

See where water lands from your sprinkler heads. Check the zone to ensure even coverage across the grass and no dry spots – dry spots can pop up when heads are askew. If water hits pavement surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, or the street, the heads should be readjusted. Excessive runoff is apparent, this is another indicator that you need to adjust the heads of your sprinkler system.

  • You can adjust spray heads by rotating the spray nozzle so that it is positioned toward the grass or landscape it waters.

  • Adjust rotary heads by moving the head to form a right angle with the ground and surface of the soil.

  • Lawn mowers and foot traffic can press heads of sprinklers into the soil, which gets in the way of the head’s nozzle and water path. The soil can also get into the head, causing it to become clogged. Raise any heads that have been pushed down into the ground so that their nozzles sit above the surface of your grass.

Watch for misting from the heads of sprinklers. When water forms a mist, it can quickly evaporate or be moved by windy weather, causing your lawn to lose water. Misting is the result of pressure problems and is caused by high pressure. Install a water pressure regulator to control misting, limit water waste, and save money.

3. Calibrate Irrigation Systems

Grass and plants need a certain amount of water, depending on the rain, weather conditions, and season. Often home irrigation systems deliver too little or too much water without the homeowner’s knowledge, which is why calibration is important. Follow these tips to see the watering rate of your irrigation system and make necessary adjustments.

  • Working in one zone at a time, scatter 5 to 10 containers that have straight sides and 3 to 6-inch diameters across the area.

  • Turn on the irrigation system and let your spray heads run at least 15 minutes and rotary heads at least 30 minutes – leave the system on long enough to gather at least a ¼ inch of water in most of the containers.

  • Measure depth of water to the nearest 1/8th of an inch in each container. Add and divide by the amount of containers to find the average water depth.

  • Divide your run time in minutes by 60, which converts minutes to hours. Divide the average depth by the hours of run time to find the inches-per-hour rate of water delivery from your irrigation system.

4. Schedule the Controller

The irrigation system uses a controller, which is a clock or timer you schedule to control the sprinklers and water delivery. You need to adjust the controller settings each season, as watering needs change throughout the year. If you fail to make regular adjustments to your controller, you could waste money and water.

  • Usually, grass needs less water when it is cool outside and more when weather temperatures are hot.

  • In the summer, when rain is frequent, you may choose to turn off the controller and manually run the irrigation system as needed. Or, install a rain shutoff device that detects rain and shuts down the irrigation system to save water and money.

Irrigation System Repairs in Cincinnati

Periodic irrigation system maintenance will ensure you maintain the lush, green lawn you love and save money in the process. If you notice performance issues or signs of leaks, call Thomas & Galbraith for irrigation system repairs in Cincinnati.

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