A sprinkler system can make your lawn and garden look picture-perfect. Unfortunately, it’s susceptible to all sorts of damage, even though it’s under ground. To get the most out of your investment, you want to prevent costly repairs by avoiding the hazards in the first place. A little regular maintenance will take some time and work, but I assure you, it will pay off in the long run. Following are some common issues and hazards and steps to prevent serious damage.
Clogs: There’s no avoiding it; your sprinkler heads are going to get clogged with dirt every so often. Ignoring it will lead to more serious damage in the future. You can tell if your sprinkler is clogged if it’s not descending properly or not emitting water. Inspect the head’s exterior, then unscrew the head and clean off any dirt clods you find.
Loss of Pressure: If your sprinklers shoot out mist instead of a stream of water, that means they lost water pressure. If turning the valves does not help, odds are that the water line has been damaged. Look for wet areas between the malfunctioning sprinklers and dig there. Remember to shut off the water before repairing leaks in the pipes. If you cannot find a leak, it’s possible that a tree root has grown around the water line and crushed it. Dig near a likely tree and replace the damaged piping.
Hitting: Sprinkler heads commonly break when hit with a lawnmower. An unsuspecting person just tripping over them can cause damage. The easiest step to prevent that is to schedule your sprinkler heads to emerge late at night, when nobody is around. Also, use sprinklers that can rotate 360 degrees. If a sprinkler has a full range of motion, it is less likely to be jarred in a damaging way.
Freezing: Winters have been relatively warm these past few years, but you still have to be prepared for big freezes. The entire system needs to be blown out with compressed air to clear out residual water. Also, wrap your Backflow Prevention Device in a towel, cover it with a plastic garbage bag, and seal the bottom with duct tape. This device in particular is expensive to replace if covered in snow or hit with a plow.
Lightning: It is possible, but unlikely, for lightning to strike your sprinkler system, either directly or indirectly. A bolt can hit a tree, sending electricity through any roots touching your system. Lightning can cause electrical components to fry or even melt, requiring costly repairs. The only thing you can do is to make sure all electrical components outside of your house are properly grounded.
If your sprinkler seems constantly prone to damage, try rerouting some lines. Make sure the pipes do not go too close to trees. Also, you can try marking the sprinkler heads with orange fluorescent paint to make them easier to see when mowing. With a little preparation and regular care, your sprinklers will keep your yard green for years.