How to Care for Your Irrigation System

July 20, 2018

To keep your irrigation system functioning properly throughout the year, follow these maintenance guidelines.

  • Familiarize yourself with your controller manual. This will help you make needed seasonal adjustments.
  • If you notice that your system is turning on and off at the wrong times, make sure that the correct date and time is set on the controller.
  • Keep a list of where each zone is and what each zone waters and keep this list near the controller.
  • If your controller has a removable 9-volt backup battery for the clock, remember to change this once a year so that if your power goes out, it will still keep the clock going.
  • If you experience a power outage, you should check on the controller once the power comes back on to see if you need to reset the system.
  • In the fall, you should have a professional landscape contractor blow out and service your irrigation system to winterize it.
  • If you have an air compressor strong enough to blow out the system yourself, the connection is typically adjacent to the backflow preventer. Shut the main valve to the system and run air through as you cycle through the zones until all water has been removed. You will want to make sure the backflow valves are closed and the controller is turned off for the winter.
  • When you turn your irrigation system back on in the spring, run each zone and inspect the heads and drip lines for any breaks or leaks and repair as necessary. It is not uncommon for drip fittings to become loose with winterization or excess water over the winter that froze.
  • A leak may look like water puddling or bubbling up from the ground which may or may not be near a sprinkler head. If you notice a leak, it’s best to contact your maintenance company or irrigation company to fix any issues.
  • Turn the spray heads so that they are watering only plants and lawn instead of the sidewalk and road. Spray and rotor heads have an internal filter that will need to be cleaned periodically.
  • If the sprinkler heads don’t pop up or go down all the way when they should it is most likely there is debris stuck that needs to be cleared.
  • Adjust the timer as necessary as the seasons change so that your plants don’t get under or over watered. A good rule of thumb is that you only need to water until about 1 inch of water has accumulated in a flat dish.
  • In late Spring you can set your controller to turn your system on once every 3 days. In the peak of summer, you may need to change the system to water 5 days a week.
  • Keep in mind that you want everything to get deeply watered and have time in between waterings to dry out so that the soil is not continually saturated.
  • Quick seasonal adjustments can be made by using the seasonal adjustment. This adjusts all of the zones at the same time to increase or decrease run times by a desired percentage.
  • As the plants become more established they will need less water.
  • It is best to have your sprinklers turn on in the morning before it gets too hot to limit evaporation and fungal issues.

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