Irrigation Maintenance and Sprinkler System Tune-up Checklist
Watch a video and learn how to winterize your irrigation system.
1. Identify Equipment
Make an irrigation system map that shows the location of all water lines, shut-off valves, back flow preventer valves, controllers, sprinklers, bubblers, and emitters.
2. Look for Leaks
Turn off all water and read your water meter. On the water meter face is an red triangle. If this triangle is moving clockwise you may have a water leak.
3. Check Controllers
- Make sure the clock is set for the proper day of the week and time of day.
- Make a list of all the stations and where they water. Include type of plant being watered and type of heads. Place list in the controller for future reference.
- If the controller has a battery backup, replace it at the beginning of each watering season.
4. Inspect System
- Repair or replace broken or missing rotor heads, spray heads, "bubblers" and drip emitters.
- Make sure all heads pop-up all of the way and fully retract when the water is turned off.
- Check for sprinklers blocked by grass, plants or other obstacles. If the spray is blocked, remove the obstacle or move the sprinkler head.
- Make sure sprinklers are vertical and flush with the soil grade. Soil should be tightly compacted around the sprinkler.
- Check for proper pressure. Water will stream out of the sprinkler instead of forming a spray if the pressure is too low or mist excessively if it is too high. Install a pressure-reducing valve or reduce flow through the valve.
- Clean or replace clogged nozzles and clean the sprinkler's trash screen, if it has one.
- Make sure all heads direct water to landscape and not to impervious surfaces such as pavement.
5. Set Schedule
- Water early in the morning, preferably between midnight and 7 a.m.
- Even addresses can water on Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday. Odd addresses can water Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. No watering with any irrigation system on Mondays.
- Determine the maximum run time for each zone before runoff starts. This often occurs after about 5-10 minutes for clay soils or after 18 minutes for loamy sand soils. Decrease these times for slopes. If runoff is a problem, irrigate more often for shorter periods, waiting at least an hour between watering.
6. Inspect Sensor
Make sure a rain sensor is properly installed, set at one-fourth of an inch or less and not sheltered by walls, shrubs or other plants.
Rotor watering the sidewalk and roadway.
Spray heads watering road median.