When you own a home with a sprinkler system and have had a home without one, you can appreciate the benefits of having a sprinkler system. A sprinkler system is a difference between having a dead lawn versus a green one. A sprinkler system reduces your water bill, water used, and time that you would have spent moving the hose around in the back. There really is no way going back once you have had a sprinkler system. I had a neighbor with a corner lot that I always saw out in his yard watering his lawn. He was always there. I asked him if he thought about getting a sprinkler system to save him some time. He said he enjoyed the extra workout he gets from moving the hose around. If you are like me, that is just insane. My time is precious and much better spent doing other things.
Now, what about sprinkler problems after a while? Yes like everyone else, I have needed a sprinkler repair time or two. The best thing about these sprinkler systems is that they make them so durable that they rarely need any repair. I bought my sprinkler system over eight years ago, and they have only had to repair it two times in those eight years. I do get my spring tune-up every spring allowing my sprinkler technician to check every aspect of my sprinkler system from zone to zone to ensure no leaks, appropriate spray, not clogged heads, soggy spots, or any other symptom my sprinkler system was acting a fool.
The only extra thing I have done is sprinkler winterization. I get this done when the weather starts to drop and the grass is in hibernation mode anyway. The best time to winterize your sprinkler system is before temperatures are below freezing. A sprinkler guy will come out and blow all the water out of my system to ensure no water is left to freeze, expand, and break those pipes. That would be a nightmare to fix and fortunately never had my pipes burst. This is one service I would never forget.
The two sprinkler problems I have ever had was a clogged sprinkler head on two different occasions. This problem was presented with what they call a sprinkler head cold. Get it?! The sprinkler head acts like it has a cold and has signs of coughing and sputters as it tries to operate in that zone. A clogged sprinkler head occurs when dirt and other debris migrate into the sprinkler head. When the system is running, it is unable to bypass this obstruction and results in a reduced spray, decreased grass watering, and a sputtering sound when trying to function. When this was occurring, I let it go on for a couple of weeks. My grass by that sprinkler head started to die. The sprinkler guy told me the sprinkler head is clogged and was underwatering my lawn in that area. It was just one patchy area where the sprinkler head should have sprayed. Once he cleared the obstruction in the sprinkler head, my sprinkler system was back to functioning the way it used too.
It can be hard when you have a sprinkler system or just had your first system professionally installed to determine how much water your grass will need. When watering your yard, your sprinkler system should provide water to all areas until the top six to eight inches of soil is wet. This is where most turfgrass roots grow and are the secret to green lush grass. Don’t overwater your lawn that can be bad for your lawn and increase the number of weeds and mosquitoes.
As you adjust to your new system, you can tweak the settings to get it to where the topsoil is wet 6-8 inches deep and prevent drowning your lawn. On average, you will notice most lawns will need about one inch of water per week. During rainy months, you will greatly reduce the amount of watering needed by hardly running your irrigation system. This will save additional money on water during those times. Also, be sure you decrease the amount of time your system is running to avoid overwatering during rainy seasons. If you have a rain sensor, you won’t have to care or worry about this. It’s better if you get a rain sensor to avoid the problem of over watering and drowning your lawn.
Since your lawn requires an inch of water per week you can do this in one watering session or multiple to break up the amount of water your grass gets. Some people will do it twice a week providing half an inch of water to the soil.
Is My Grass Getting Enough Water?
You can easily determine this by checking the soil. You will want to check every fifteen minutes if this is your first time running your sprinkler system to ensure you are not over watering. If you use a screwdriver, you can see how deep the water has moved. I like to mark the time the soil reaches six to eight inches. This will be the appropriate amount of time you need to water your lawn. Cool huh?!
If you don’t want to stand out on your lawn and check every fifteen minutes, you can work out a simple equation. You can also do the math to figure out the flow rate from gallons per minute. This number is found on the manufacturer’s website. You will use 0.62 gallons in your math equation to get the number of minutes to run your sprinkler.
Multiply the sq ft of the area your watering by 0.62 gallons and then divide by the sprinkler flow rate you got from the manufacturer’s website. You can always look for more information about water flow rate. This will give you the number of minutes to run your irrigation system without getting a screw and standing out on your lawn.
Many homeowners have sprinkler systems and in the winter time, many of them have experienced the consequences of a hard freeze or below freezing weather. The problem affects your system not when it is initially turning into ice but as the ice melts. That’s when it is common to see bursting pipes and water spraying in large amounts. Yes, that’s our money being wasted.
After a hard freeze is over is commonly when you will be on your way to work and see water spraying in places it shouldn’t. This is a common problem.
It is important to winterize your irrigation system before it gets to such low temperatures your pipes are at risk for turning into icicles. If you forget to call a sprinkler company and request for this service, you will have an increased risk for bursting pipes, hoses, and equipment holding your water outside your home. When homeowners try to do it themselves, they will follow some video to winterize their home. I did it one year, and the thing the video didn’t cover was removing the water that is already in the system. It is important to purge all the water out of your sprinkler system using an air compressor. Most air compressors purchased at local stores like lowes don’t offer a compressor strong enough to remove all the water in your system. If you still plan to do this yourself, you need to use your air compressor at each zone to remove all the water in zone 1, 2, and 3. Each one will have to be done separately to be successful. If you don’t want to do this tedious task you have a third option of renting a larger air compressor from a hardware store or you can just simply call a sprinkler technician to do the work for you.
Since a sprinkler system costs thousands of dollars to install, I find it is not worth the few dollars I save to do it myself. If you fail to winterize your system correctly, your pipes will burst. You will call a sprinkler company after hours to bail you out. You will then be rewarded with a more expensive bill to fix your system. All this can be avoided by calling a licensed sprinkler technician to do the work they trained for. Check Texas irrigator’s license at the TCEQ Website. If you leave any water in your pipes, the pipe will expand as the ice freezes, and then when the weather is warm the ice melts. This causes your pipes to burst. Don’t let it get to this point before you do something about it.
If you still insist on winterizing your system, set your air compressor to maximum 80 psi for rigid PVC pipes unless you have flexible polyethylene pipes. If you have the latter, set your regulator to 50 psi. You need to shut off your water and set your system to open each zone with a timer. If you happen to have a manual drain valve for each zone, open that. Finally, connect the airline to the blow out port. Once connected, add the other end of the hose to the compressor and turn it on. You will notice the water purging. This is what you want. You will also see the sprinkler heads pop up and blow out the water too. Once the system is empty, the water will stop blowing out. Your system is not winterized. You can have a worry-free winter. One tip is not to let the compressor run for a long time, the heat it generates can actually melt your lines. Once you have finished each zone you are completely done with your entire system.