We can’t specifically address the needs of every system, but these are some basic instructions on how to start your sprinkler for the season:
1. Go outside to the valve box(es).
Open the lid(s) and CLOSE the drain(s) inside the box(es). Check for any other drains on the system, for example an above ground hose attachment or pool fill hoses. (NOTE: Not every system will have manual drains in the valve boxes, most newer systems have automatic drains – these are yellow, blue or clear.) After closing the drains turn off and close the valves and the bleeder screws for every valve.
2. Go to the vacuum breaker.
(The brass device on the side of your house)
The handles should have been left at a half way on half way off position for the winter (B). Turn the green handles so they shut the valves (B). Typically in the off position, the upper handle will be vertical and the lower horizontal, or going across the pipe. Next you will need a flat blade screwdriver to close the two test-cocks 1/4 turn on the vacuum breaker (A) so that they are also at a right angle to the direction of the pipe (meaning if the pipe is vertical you want the screw to be horizontal).
2.5 Lake Pump Procedure.
If you have a lake pump you will need to connect your inlet and outlet lines to the pump first. Once connected you will need to inspect the lakescreen to be sure there are no tears and that it is clean. Once inspected the lake screen should be secured to the dock below the water level but safely off the bottom of the lake. The next step is the most time consuming and that is to prime the pump. You must evacuate the air from the line coming from the lake and replace it with water by filling the line slowly with water. This process may be repeated several times before the pump is primed. We typically connect a garden hose to the hosebib that is on your pump to fill the line. Once it is full we will disconnect the garden hose and slowly open the hosebib with the pump on and drain out the air.
3. Go to the basement.
Find and close the drain valve. This is typically near the ball valve to turn on the system but not always. Sometimes this drain valve is outside under your backflow device on the pipe coming out of your house. SLOWLY turn on the water to the sprinkler system. If you have correctly closed the backflow, the water will fill up to that point and stop (If the water does not stop flowing within about 30 seconds shut the water back off inside and check the vacuum breaker for leaks). Once the water is on Return outside to the vacuum breaker and slowly turn the green handles starting with the lower green handle. As you turn the lower green handle, you may hear a popping sound as the air is released from the backflow, properly setting the backflow. After this turn the upper green handle so both are in line with the pipe – the lower green handle should be vertical, upper green handle should be horizontal. You should feel the water flowing through the backflow. The water will stop running when the pipes are full to the valves. If the water continues to flow through the backflow after the first few minutes, you need to check in the valve boxes for signs of water. Turn off the water, stop the leak (Frequently is it just a drain that has been left open in a valve box) and try again. You can double check to be sure the water is off by checking the sprinkler water meter and verifying that it has stopped flowing water.
4. Go to the controller (Also called a Timer).
Manually start the system, checking each head of each zone for proper operation, walk your yard and check for leaks. After insuring the system is operating properly set your controller to run as needed. Typically two or three days a week is adequate for early season watering.