DIY Guide for Fixing Sprinkler System

Step-by-Step Instructions and Tips to Fix Most Common Sprinkler System Issues

A well-maintained underground sprinkler system will keep your lawn and garden lush and healthy. However, underground sprinkler components can wear out over time or become damaged, leading to leaks, clogged heads, or malfunctioning irrigation valves.

In this comprehensive DIY Guide for Fixing Sprinkler Systems, we’ll walk you through fixing the common problems with your irrigation, including replacing sprinkler heads, checking valves, repairing leaks, and more.

With the right tools and know-how in this Sprinkler System (Repair Guide), you can keep your sprinkler system in top condition and ensure your landscape stays green and vibrant.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need:

Before you begin any repair work on your sprinkler system, gathering the necessary tools and materials is essential. Here’s what you’ll need:

– Adjustable wrench
– Screwdriver (flathead and Phillips)
– Pipe wrench
– PVC pipe cutter or hacksaw
– Teflon tape
– Replacement sprinkler heads
– PVC pipe fittings
– PVC primer and cement
– Valve key or wrench
– Pipe repair clamp
– Wire stripper and electrical tape (for solenoid replacement)

NOTE: Actual Sprinkler System Parts are not included in the above list of materials

If you find damaged parts of your sprinkler system, you can search for an online store or a local dealer based on your irrigation system “brand” (Toro, Ortho, Rainbird, Hunter, etc.).


Basic Types of Sprinkler Systems Heads:

These are the Two Basic Types of Home Sprinkler Heads that you will find in use for your Sprinkler System:

Type 1. Rotary Heads: These are the large sprinkler heads, which, as their name implies, “Rotate.”  Depending on size, rotary heads can spray water over 25 feet away.

image of a rotary sprinkler system head
Rotary Sprinkler System Head – www.Besthomegear.com

Type 2.  Pop-Up Spray Heads:  Again, according to their description, spray heads are used to spray areas found along driveways, sidewalks, or garden beds, offering settings that can limit their rotation to a straight-line 90 degrees.

Pop-up spray heads typically spray with a range of less than 10 feet.

Pop up spray head image - best home gear
Pop-Up Spray Head – www.besthomegear.com

Video:  The Two Types of Sprinkler Heads – How to Operate & Adjust:

 


 

Top Seven (7) Sprinkler System Problems:

1.  Fixing a Sprinkler Head (5 Steps)

  • Turn off the Water: Locate the main shut-off valve for your sprinkler system and turn off the water supply.
  • Remove the Old Sprinkler Head: Use an adjustable wrench to unscrew the old sprinkler head from the riser. Twist the head counterclockwise until it comes loose.
replacing sprinkler head - best home gear
Fixing a Sprinkler Head – www.Besthomegear.com
  • clean the Threads: Use a cloth or brush to clean any debris or dirt from the threads on the riser.
  • Install the New Sprinkler Head: Apply Teflon tape to the threads of the riser to create a watertight seal. Screw the new sprinkler head onto the riser in a clockwise direction until it is snug.
  • Test the Sprinkler: Turn the water back on and test the new sprinkler head to ensure it functions correctly.

2.  Cleaning and Resetting a Sprinkler Head (4 Steps)

  • Remove the Sprinkler Head: Follow the steps above to unscrew the sprinkler head from the riser.
  • Clean the Sprinkler Head: Use a toothbrush or small wire brush to remove dirt, debris, or mineral deposits from the nozzle and filter screen.
Cleaning underground Sprinkler system Head
How to Clean Irrigation Heads – www.Besthomegear.com
  • Check for Clogs: Inspect the nozzle and filter screen for any obstructions causing poor water distribution.
  • Re-assemble the Sprinkler Head: Once cleaned, reattach the sprinkler head to the riser and test it to ensure proper operation.

3.  Sprinkler System Valve Repair (4 Steps)

image of irrigation system "valve box"
Locate your Valve Box – www.besthomegear.com
  • Locate the Valves: Find the valve box for your sprinkler system, typically located near the main water supply line outside.
  • Inspect the Valves: Open the valve box and inspect each valve for signs of damage, corrosion, or leaks.
  • Test the Valves: Turn on each valve manually using a valve key or wrench to ensure they open and close correctly.
  • Repair or Replace Faulty Valves: If you encounter any valves not functioning correctly, repair or replace them as needed.

4.  Finding and Repairing Leaks (3 Steps)

  • Inspect the System: Walk the perimeter of your property and visually inspect the sprinkler lines for any signs of leaks, such as soggy or wet areas..
  • Use a Leak Detection Tool: If you’re having trouble locating a leak, use a leak detection tool or rent a listening device to pinpoint the source of the leak underground. (Note: a professional irrigation installer may best handle this step).
  • Repair the Leak: Dig carefully around the affected area and fix the damaged pipe using a pipe repair clamp or PVC fittings once you’ve located the leak.

5.  Repairing “Crushed Sprinkler Lines” (4 Steps)

image of a crushed underground sprinkler line - best home gear
How to repair crushed sprinkler line – www.besthomegear.com
  • Locate the Crushed Line: Use a metal detector or probe to locate the crushed portion of the sprinkler line underground.
  • Excavate the Area: Carefully dig around the crushed section of the pipe, exposing enough of the line to work on it comfortably.
  • Cut Out the Damaged Section: Use a PVC pipe cutter or hacksaw to cut out the crushed portion of the pipe, ensuring clean, straight cuts.
  • Replace with New Pipe: Install a new section with a piece of identical diameter PVC pipe – to replace the damaged portion, securing it with PVC primer and PVC cement.
  • Replace the Soil and Sod, and sprinkle grass seed over the damaged lawn area.

6.  Resetting the Sprinkler Control System (3 Steps)

sprinkler system controller image - Best Home Gear
Sprinkler System Controller – www.besthomegear.com
  • Locate the Control Panel:  Find your sprinkler system’s control panel or timer located on the side of a house, in a garage, or utility room (see the above image of a typical sprinkler controller)
  • Power Cycle the System: Turn off the power to the control panel and unplug it from the electrical outlet. Please wait a few minutes, plug it back in, and power it on.
  • Reset the Settings: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to reset the settings on your control panel, including the date, time, and watering schedule.

7.  Replacing the Sprinkler System Solenoid (5 Steps)

image of two solenoids in a sprinkler valve box - www.besthomegear.com
Two Solenoid irrigation system – www.besthomegear.com

The Solenoids in a sprinkler system (two round green valves shown above) control the water flow to each zone.  The example above shows two zones for this particular sprinkler system. 

Solenoids receive a 24-volt signal from the sprinkler controller to the hot wire of the solenoid, as per its time/day settings, which engages the solenoid to open the valve for that zone.

To test the functionality or replace a faulty Sprinkler Solenoid;

  • Turn off the Water and Power: Shut off the water supply to your sprinkler system and turn off the power to the control panel.
  • Locate the Solenoid: Find the solenoid valve for the zone you’re working on, typically in the valve box.
  • Remove the Solenoid: Use a screwdriver to disconnect the wires from the solenoid and unscrew it from the valve body.
  • Install the New Solenoid: Screw the new solenoid onto the valve body and reconnect the wires, ensuring they are securely attached.
  • Test the System: Turn the water and power back on and test the zone to ensure the new solenoid functions correctly.

Before you get started – You may want to get familiar with How an irrigation system works – see Video below;

Anatomy of a Sprinkler System (Video)

 


Conclusion:

With the right tools, materials, and knowledge, repairing a sprinkler system doesn’t have to be daunting.

By following these step-by-step instructions for Fixing Sprinkler Systems, you can keep your sprinkler system in top condition and ensure your lawn and garden receive the water they need to thrive.

Remember to prioritize safety when working with water and electricity, and don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance if needed.

Lastly, if you suspect significant repairs are required, such as the Master Valve or Backflow Preventer needing inspection or repair, call a professional.

Thanks for visiting Best Home Gear, and please don’t forget to leave us a comment or suggestion!

Additional Reading & References:

 
Kevin Carroll
Kevin Carrollhttps://www.besthomegear.com
Kevin is the author and editor for Best Home Gear, and uses his 25+ years experience in Commercial and Residential Construction Management to author and publish the work for this website. In addition to publishing Best Home Gear; Kevin enjoys the outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, hiking, cycling, fishing, golf, and completing DIY projects at his Home and Garden.

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Image of Kevin Carroll, author and publisher @ Besthomegear.com
Author and Publisher for Best Home Gear

Kevin is the Author, and Publisher @ Best Home Gear, which he began In 2018.

As a Professional in Construction, Real Estate and Property Management, Kevin uses that experience to publish Useful Articles, and help homeowners improve (DIY) their own homes, lawns, and outdoor spaces.

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