This Month's Tip- Spring Irrigation System Maintenance

Spring maintenance checklist:

  • Close all manual drains (they were probably left open when sprinkler system was drained last fall).
  • Slowly open the main valve, allowing the piping between it and the cross connection (backflow) prevention assembly to fill with water.
  • Pressurize the mainline from the backflow prevention assembly to the control valves. Have one of the control valves open while you do this, so air trapped in the piping can escape through the sprinkler heads as the pipes fill with water.
  • Have the cross connection assembly, or back flow, tested by a state-certified tester.
  • Run the entire sprinkler system, one zone at a time. As you do this, check the following:
    • Signs of leakage, especially damage to sprinkler heads or piping which could have occurred over the winter.  Check for leaking valves. Often the flexible seals dry out over the winter and leak when the water is turned back on. Repair and replace as needed.

    • Accurate spray patterns. Adjust your sprinkler heads so they water your landscape and not sidewalks or pavement.  Also make sure their spray isn’t blocked by plants or other materials.
  • Clean clogged nozzles and sprinkler heads
  • Install a rain sensor. Rain sensors are designed to shut off sprinkler systems when rainfall reaches a preset amount, usually 1/4 inch.  Once the moisture level subsides, the sensor re-enables the sprinkler system, resuming the previous watering schedule. Rain sensors should be mounted in an unobstructed area exposed to open sky - minimizing the potential for fallen leaves or other debris from blocking the sensor.