Sprinkler Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting Tips

There are many small service issues you can take care of yourself, or at least allow you to continue to utilize your system until your service appointment. Here are some of the questions that come to us and their answers:

What time a day should I water?

The best times to water your lawn are in the early morning  when there is generally less wind and heat. The least desirable times are in the heat of the afternoon, when the water evaporates too quickly, and very late in the evening, which can cause the lawn to stay wet all night. This encourages disease development. Also See Lawn Maintenance Tab.

How much time should I water on each zone?

Over watering is often a bigger problem than underwatering. Typically, the spray zones need to run one third to one half as much time as the rotor zones (The big sprinkler heads) (for example set 10-15 minutes per zone on the spray heads (Small mist heads) if you have rotors put 20-45 minutes per zone), depending on nozzle size, soil and weather conditions. Most rotor zones should be set at a minimum of 30 minutes unless clay soil causes runoff or puddling.  It is always better to water heavy less often to draw the roots of the lawn down.  By letting the lawn dry between waterings this will draw the root system deeper and eventually use less water.  

On average drip zones water one gallon of water per plant, per hour. Be very cautious of overwatering with your drip irrigation – We generally water drip 45-60 minutes.

My mist head is clogged - How do I clean it?

With the zone running, hold up the stem of the mist head. Have someone else turn the water off. Still holding the stem, remove the nozzle, which is the top inch of the stem. Remove the screen inside and rinse it with water, it is often helpful to flush the whole head out by turning on the water with the nozzle off and screen removed. Replace screen and nozzle and allow head to retract.  See video in the video section of our website to see cleaning a spray head.

The system has a broken head - Can I still water?

Yes, you can. Watering on the zone with the broken head will waste water, but you can shut off that zone and allow the rest of the system to water until a service technician can replace the head. Simply turn off the time on the zone with the broken head to 0 minutes. (See the Product Information page for controller manual links if needed).

The controller is "Off", but still running - What should I do?

If the controller is turned to the "off" position and your sprinkler is still operating, a valve on the system has failed. You need to turn the water off to the system and contact the our office for a service appointment.. You can do this at the backflow device outside the house or at the sprinkler shut-off valve in your basement.

The controller is operating, but the sprinkler is not - What should I check?

Check to ensure the water is ON to the system. Be sure it is turned on in the basement and both valve handles on the backflow device are open as well (going with the pipe). Check the valve boxes to be sure the drain valves are closed. If the water is on everywhere, you may have a wiring problem and need to set up a service appointment.

My controller is not functioning at all - What should I check?

This means there is some sort of electrical problem (wiring, fuse, etc.) Check to ensure the outlet the controller is plugged into is operational. Try another electronic device in the outlet or try the controller in another outlet. If the outlet is a GFI plug, check the reset button. If this doesn't restore operation, you will need to set up a service appointment.

My controller says "PWR OFF" - What does that mean?

This means there is some sort of electrical problem (wiring, fuse, etc.) This means that the controller battery is operational, but it is not receiving power from the AC plug. Check to ensure the outlet the controller is plugged into is operational. Try another electronic device in the outlet or try the controller in another plug. If the outlet is a GFI plug, check the reset button. If this doesn't restore operation, you will need to set up a service appointment.

The backflow device on the side of my house is leaking - What should I do?

A couple of things could be going on here. If your sprinkler was winterized late in the season or improperly, the interior of your device may be broken. However, check the following: Did you turn the test ports so the slots are going the opposite direction as the pipe? If you have just started your sprinkler you may have turned the water on too quickly to allow the disc inside the backflow device to seal. Turn off the upper ball valve (the downstream one) then turn the water on in the basement SLOWLY. It is not unusual for the backflow to leak a little when you are first turning the water back on. If the bleed screws are turned and the resealing attempt does not work please contact the office for service.

We had a power surge, now my controller is watering at odd times - How can I reset it?

Your controller can get a little confused with an abrupt change in power. Unplug your controller, open the face and remove the back-up battery. Allow the controller unit to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Replace the battery and plug the controller in. The controller time and watering times will need to be reset. The controller will automatically default to 10 minutes a zone, 7 days a week. (See the Product Information page for controller manual links if needed).  If you have had a lightning strike very near or at your residence/office, and this doesn't reset your controller, it will probably need to be replaced. 

*If you have an ESP Modular controller there is a RESET button located behind the face plate of the controller. Press and hold the reset button for three seconds. Close the face and reprogram your controller.  You can also turn the dial to seasonal adjust. Press and hold the left and right arrow buttons at the same time for at least 3 seconds. Once this is done you will see the word "CLEARED" on the screen.  Turn the dial back to auto/run position. Your controller is then reset to factory default settings.  You can at that point set up your controller.  The default is Program A at 8 am, ten minutes per station for stations 1-4 and it will be set to water every day of the week.

I am doing landscaping or planting in my yard. How deep are the sprinkler lines?

The depth of the sprinkler lines will vary due to underground obstructions, tree roots, or debris, but our goal is to be between 8 and 12 inches below the surface. If you are digging near where you see a sprinkler head, be sure to dig gently by hand for the first foot until you locate the line. For planning plantings, stay at least 6” away from either side of the line of heads and 2’ away from any valve box.  If your landscape is changing we reccomend that the heads be moved also to accomodate the changes.

What should I do if a sprinkler head won’t retract?

The simplest solution to this common problem is to gently step on the head. Sometimes minor debris in the head won’t allow it to retract. Gentle pressure from the top forces the water through the head and the debris to be flushed out. Some gear-driven rotors could be wearing down and in need of replacement. If you have a head that tends to stay up be sure you do a walk around before you mow!

 

If you are still having problems please call our office at 712-338-2756 or send us an

e-mail to becky@northwestiowasprinkler.com to set up a service call appointment.