Sprinkler System FAQs
The Sprinkler Surgeon Answers
Our sprinkler experts answer your most commonly asked questions about sprinkler systems and their maintenance, repairs and parts.
• What are the benefits of a sprinkler system?
A properly designed and installed underground sprinkler system allows you to water your lawn and landscape efficiently, effectively, and most importantly conveniently. It provides the assurance that your investment in both your lawn and landscape is protected. Seasonal adjustments allow for changes in temperatures and the amounts of natural precipitation.
• What are the different parts and components?
Sprinkler systems are basically composed of a backflow preventer attached to your water source that leads into a valve box. The valves control different sections of sprinkler heads in different areas of your property. A clock is mounted either in or outside of your home, in addition to a rain sensor that communicates with your clock, instructing it NOT to turn on when there has been recent precipitation.
• How many zones do I need?
The number of zones is determined by (2) factors, your homes water pressure (psi) and water volume (gpm). Depending on how much water volume and pressure is available will help determine how many zones that you may need. The one factor that remains constant is the # of sprinkler heads needed on a property.
• What does the box in the garage do? Why is it so hard to program?
Your clock controls your irrigation system. The clock determines what days of the week your system runs, the time of day that it runs, and the duration of time for each of the zones. Older clocks were much less “user friendly” than the more modern versions. These have become much easier to interact with.
• How do rain sensors work and do they make sense?
Rain sensors are an essential part of any efficient system. They communicate with your system, instructing it to not water on days when there has been recent natural precipitation. The newer versions are wireless and work very well
• What are the different types of irrigation heads?
Type of heads include rotary which address large lawn areas, spray heads that are geared towards small lawn areas and gardens, and multi-stream which are used for mid range turf or delicate plant situations. Rotary heads cover large areas of turf up to 25 feet. Multi stream heads are your mid range type head that are also used for gardens with more delicate plants. Spray heads are your small area heads for areas such as curb lines and some gardens. Finally you have drip irrigation. These are used to water hedges, large trees and planters. Piping with delicate wholes in them allows for direct efficient watering to explicit area. These pipes are normally buried, allowing for great water efficiency and conservation.
• What are the best times of the day to water?
A large advantage to having an automated system is that the system will water at the most ideal times. Recent studies by both Penn State and Rutgers Universities concluded that the ideal times to water your lawn is between the hours of 12am and 5am. The benefit is that because these times are no conducive most people’s lifestyles the burden is handled by your system.
Watering at other points of the day can and often due create problems with lawn diseases. Often consumers will say things like “Oh it was so hot today that I figured watering when I got home would cool off the lawn”. Wrong answer! Watering in sunlight or at days’ end can create manmade humidity and a petri dish environment for diseases. Watering at night also will not interfere with showers, laundry, etc.
• Do sprinkler systems save on water bills?
The best thing about a sprinkler system is that you can water your lawn efficiently and effectively when you water. Just because you have a sprinkler system does not mean you need to water more often. But when you do water, you can water well. If you were to water your entire lawn and landscape by using a hose and sprinkler you would waste a tremendous amount of water. Some areas would get too much, others to little, and areas that were not suppose to be watered would also get wet.
• Can hard water damage my sprinkler system?
Hard water will have the same effect on your sprinkler system’s parts as it would on any of the appliances in your household. Over time some minor maintenance/ repairs will be required, but nothing that would warrant having the water for your system go through a water softener.
• What can be done about leaks in my sprinkler system?
Periodically your system will require some repairs. Occasionally, the piping used can be damaged by planting or digging on your property. Additionally, sprinkler heads can often be damaged by lawn mowers and need to be replaced. Most companies charge a flat service call charge, in addition to the cost of parts.
• What is Winterization and when should it be performed?
Each fall usually October into November your system will need to be shut down before the ground freezes. This involves attaching a compressor to your water source and blowing all water out of your sprinkler system pipes and sprinkler heads. Failure to winterize your system can result in the cracking of pipes, heads, and backflow preventer.