Following on from our previous blog post containing some quick tips to fix your sprinkler system, we look at more options you can try yourself. If you feel the issue with your irrigation system is an electrical problem, always contact your electrician – better to be safe than sorry.
Low Water Pressure
Solution 1 – Check the valves
Low water pressure will result in the sprinkler heads barely shooting water. In extreme cases, many of the heads won’t even pop up. Start with the easiest solution. Make sure the valves at the backflow device are fully open. The backflow device is located above ground, with the valve at least 30cms above the highest sprinkler head in the yard. Most backflow devices have a valve on the horizontal and vertical pipes. Turn the valves to their open positions as shown. The valve is open when the handle is parallel with the pipe.
Check for leaks:
Check for leaks in the water line. Look for a series of sprinkler heads that aren’t watering properly. The water line problem is always located between the last working head and the first non-working head. Look for signs of leaking water, such as water bubbling up from the soil when the sprinklers are running, a depression in the ground, or a very wet area. If you find running water, follow the water to the highest point to find the source.
Solution 2 – Install a slip coupling
Once you locate the approximate leak site, dig straight down to the water line. Then enlarge the hole along the line, following the flow of the leaking water until you find the break or crack. Before making the repair, make sure the system is turned off at the controller. Use a slip coupling to repair the leak. This special coupling contracts to make insertion easy. Find these couplings and other repair parts at irrigation supply stores.
To fix the leak, use a hacksaw to cut out a 15cm section of line at the leak. Place a clamp on one of the line ends, insert the coupling and then tighten the clamp. Place the clamp on the second pipe end, expand the coupling while inserting the nipple into the pipe and then tighten the clamp. Now you can presurise the system to test for leaks, then backfill the hole with dirt and replace the turf.
Solution 3 – Repair crushed pipes
If you can’t locate a leak, the water line may be crushed or obstructed. Sometimes, roots wrap around the line and squeeze it closed over the course of several years. Or vehicles may have compressed the soil and collapsed the line. These problems are harder to find and often require a lot of digging. Again, look for the problem after the last working head. Dig along the water line until you find the damaged section. If the line runs near a tree, start your digging there.
Once you locate the damaged section, cut it out with a hacksaw. If the line was damaged by tree roots, reroute the line by digging a new trench away from the tree. Cut a new section of pipe to replace the damaged one. Then replace the section of pipe, connecting it at each end with regular couplings and band clamps.