Sprinkler Systems

by Marcus Pickett

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Any homeowner can get the garden hose out and water the lawn, but who wants to take the time every evening or every other evening to drag the cumbersome hose around the yard and then gather it back up? If you've been doing this for any length of time, you understand that no matter how simple the chore seems, on many nights it's an unnecessary hassle. An automatic sprinkler system will take care of watering your lawn for you, spread the water more uniformly, avoid the unsightly appearance of the hose itself, and give you back precious time during your summer evenings.

Sprinkler System Design
Designing a sprinkler system involves a lot more than just installing sprinkler heads and laying pipe. Your yard must be accurately measured, as well as the water flow coming into the yard. Both water flow and water pressure can influence the sprinkler design. As water flows through each sprinkler head, more water pressure is used to operate the system. Different pipes and flow valves must be correctly installed to control the pressure loss and ensure your sprinkler system runs smoothly. The overall effect is to deliver a uniform amount of water to your lawn, but many factors go into making this happen.

Sprinkler System Maintenance
Your sprinkler system has several interconnected pipes both above and below ground. These pipes can freeze and burst if the temperature gets cold enough. Many sprinkler systems are designed so you can drain all the water from the pipes. They may also have a shut-off switch to keep the sprinkler system from activating during the winter. Consult your system manual to see how to re-activate your system for the spring.

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Install Sprinklers

If you have no water in one sprinkler head and all the other sprinklers in the area are spraying water, then something is blocking the sprinkler. If it's a "pop-up" head, check to see if sand or dirt is keeping the head from popping up and activating. You might also have a leak underground. Look around the problem head and see if water is leaking from the tube feeding the sprinkler.

An area of sprinklers is called a "zone." If a zone isn't activating, first check the automatic timer. Perhaps it's not programmed to activate the zone. If that checks out, then the problem may be with the delivery box that directs water to various zones. Consult with a water sprinkler service professional to fix the problem.

Sprinkler System Installation
Installing a sprinkler system can be done on your own, but it's more than a one day installation and you really need to know what you're doing. It requires precise calculation of spatial and pressure measurements and also a fair degree of technical skill. One common mistake is not placing the sprinkler heads close enough. Sprinkler heads should be able to spray far enough to hit adjacent heads. This is called head-to-head coverage and the overlapping area is essential to creating a uniform water delivery to your lawn. Hiring a contractor is probably your safest bet, but you should still take a proactive approach to your sprinkler system installation. Having a basic understanding of how your system works can help you troubleshoot any future problems and reduce the likelihood that you'll need to have your system professionally repaired.

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.