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7 Most Common Sprinkler Problems and how to diagnose them

7 most common sprinkler problems and how to diagnose them


Keeping your sprinkler system in top condition is vital for your landscape. You spend thousands on landscape upkeep, plantings, fertilizer and maintenance. However, many home owners and property manager overlook the system that keeps everything alive – the irrigation system. Veins and arteries in your body keep your body alive by delivering blood from a central source, your heart, to the rest of your organs. This is the same function of your irrigation system and all the elements that operate it. Knowing how your irrigation system works and operates is critical in keeping your home and property looking alive and vibrant. Without expert care looking at all the elements of the system, you may be missing a major problem. Below we list some of the most common problems that effect your sprinkler system and signal to you its time to call a professional irrigation expert.


A Faulty Sprinkler Timer

The timer is the most important component in your system. It performs all of the below functions:

  • It turns on and off the entire the system at the specific times

  • It determines how evenly and effectively the water is dispersed

  • It dictates that amount of water per zone

  • It is the brain that runs all the mechanisms for the system to operate

The brain of the system – the timer – is the first component to watch and check to make sure its in working order. When do you know its time to replace it? If you notice that your system isn’t activating at the appropriate times, loosing time, remaining on for too long or not long enough, or isn’t capable of operating in automatic mode, can’t keep a schedule, then you have a faulty controller and its time to have a professional install a new one. Bonus – New timers are Wifi operated, so you can tie them into your smart home.


Leaking Water in One or Multiple Zones

If water is leaking out of pipes, you should think of it as leaking out of your pocket. Money that is! Leaks unchecked can cost you a lot of money by running up your water bill. How can you recognize a leak before it becomes costly?

Watching your sprinkler’s different zones as they run is the first step. Sprinkler valves control water flow to each zone though electronic solenoids or mechanical master valve. Regardless the valve, the diaphragm open and closes, allowing water to flow or not. If you notice water constantly leaking from one zone, or multiple, it could be a defective valve diaphragm, blockage inside the valve itself, or improper design/install that is affecting the valve from fully sealing.


Pump failure or not pumping

Pump buzzing is a tell tail sign that the pump has failed. The pump is an electric motor with relays coming from your timer. The relay is activated via electricity from the timer. If you hear a buzzing then its electric system is failed. Electric + Water = stay away! Call us immediacy so we can safely replace the pump. Another sign that the pump is failed is if you hear it. Pump should be very quiet. If yours is making lots of noise, the bearings have failed and the pump is ready to seize. Pumps should be replaced every 5 years.


Pop Up’s not Popping Up

Pop ups live in a dangerous area. They are stepped on, run over by lawn mowers, hit by weed trimmers and surrounded by mud and sand. Inside the pop up are metal springs that rust, fine tolerances that sand and silt can easily get into the body and cause it to get stuck or grind. The same sand or silt can get stuck into the spring or add water and watch it rust. This is issue is easily fixed by our expert team, and you should call our irrigation service as soon as you see the problem occur.


Incorrect and Ineffective Head Height

Ineffective head height is something not many people even register as an issue. It’s only after they notice that parts of their lawn aren’t receiving proper coverage that they realize something is wrong. As a general tip, if your lawn’s health seems poor or you are seeing brown spots, the sprinkler head height is one of the first things you should check.

If the sprinkler head is too high, water will miss the designated area and your lawn will dry out and die. Also you will experience more breaks and cracks from mowing and activity hitting the pop up. If the head is too low, you will flood the area, which ironically will also kill the grass and encourage bugs and weeds to grow in its place


Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure is one of the major problems behind poor lawn coverage. This issue is simple – most like a blockage caused by broken pipes, failed or broken hardware like pop ups or rotors, or main line blockage caused by roots or cracks. If your system is old, your issue could be pump failure, rotten and failed seals, hydro valve failure. As you can see, many issues or just one could be the problem. If you try to diagnose the issue, more likely then not you will waste your time and money trying to find the issue. It is best to call our team in to quickly diagnose the issue. blockage, faulty hardware, broken pipes, and backend issues.


Stuck Irrigation Zones or skipping of zones

This issue is common with pump-fed systems. Loosing prime is one place to start. Prime is the suction effect that your pump generates. If there are leaks in your pumps lining, this will prevent a steady flow of water from being fed to the hydro values and thus on to your appropriate zone. The tell tail sign is areas of your lawn are not receiving the correct amount of water, and thus browning out. Call us immediately to prevent further lawn loss.

Other areas that fail and cause this are failed or shorted solenoid, bad wiring connections, or the valve itself. Remembering that the timer is electric, you cannot rule out a faulty timer or a shorted-out motherboard, or bad module inside the timer.


Clogged Sprinkler Heads

Finally, we constantly see clogged sprinkler heads as one of the biggest problems. As mentioned above, sand silt shells rocks are all being sucked in wells or by breaks along the line. You system should be flushed at least twice a year, and in areas of high use like Florida we recommend 4 times a year. Failure to do this will result in poor coverage, backup of pressure and expensive fixes.


The good news is – Water Wizard Total Care Irrigation division is ready to serve you!. We specialize in irrigation installation, sprinkler repair, system renovation and many other services as well. The bonus is that by joining the Water Wizard family, you benefit from our other departments such as pressure cleaning, rust control and lawn maintenance.


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