Test Your Lawn Irrigation System

Time: 1 to 2 hours

Your irrigation system is what keeps your lawn looking lush, even when it’s dry outside. But issues like broken or clogged sprinkler heads and low water pressure cause the system to malfunction, making your lawn dry up. This test will help you detect problems early so you can keep your sprinkler system watering efficiently.

What's in it for you?

  • Healthy lawn
  • Water efficiency

Test Your Lawn Irrigation System:

  1. Place small cans throughout your lawn. Get several same-sized small cans or buckets and place them around your yard so they sit flat. For best results, choose cans that have flat sides and bottoms. (It’s essential that they are all the same size.)

  2. Run your irrigation system. Turn your system on for 15 minutes and let it run. During this time, water will collect in the cans.

  3. Check the water levels in the cans. After the 15 minutes are up, measure the water level in each can with a ruler — you should have the same amount of water in each. If you find several cans have varying water levels, there is most likely a problem with your sprinkler system. (Bonus points: experts recommend giving your lawn about an inch of water every time you water it so you can also use this to determine how long to water your lawn when the system is functioning properly).

  4. Determine the root of the problem (if any). More likely than not, you can fix your lawn watering woes by looking to one of the following culprits:

    Clogged sprinkler heads: When your sprinkler heads are full of dirt and gunk, the water gets trapped inside instead of making your brown grass green.

    Broken sprinkler heads: Sprinkler heads are great at doing their job but they don’t stand up well to brute force.

    Improper head placement: If you heads are too high or too low, the water will go too far or not far enough.

    Stuck valves: Are your sprinklers running on overtime even after you’ve tried to shut them off? It’s likely that something is blocking the valve from closing and shutting off the water flow.

Repair your lawn irrigation system:

It’s time to fix all the problems listed above.

  1. Clean clogged sprinkler heads. Remove the sprinkler heads that were responsible for watering any problematic areas. If any are clogged, clean them with a stiff wire and flush with running water to break apart remaining debris.

  2. Replace broken sprinkler heads with ones of the same model. Using a screwdriver, pry the broken head from the sprinkler and discard. Press the new one into place.

  3. Set your sprinkler heads to the right level. Improperly placed heads come out of the ground too high or too low and cause uneven watering. Sprinkler heads should be aligned so they are about half an inch above the ground when active. Fix it by digging around the head and either pushing or pulling it into or out of the ground. To keep the adjusted level, pack with dirt.

  4. Unclog stuck valves. Remove valve heads and caps, which are on the right side of the valve. Run water through the valves to remove the clogs that are causing them to stick.

Pro Tip: When buying new sprinkler parts, make sure you have the old part with you so you get a part that fits.

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