Depending on the size of your lawn and garden, it can be a huge task to keep up with the watering with just a watering can and hose. That’s why many homeowners turn to irrigation systems, ranging from simple sprinklers to fully automated zone irrigation, to make watering a snap. And while these tools can save you loads of time and effort, it does add a little bit of work in the form of system maintenance.
Change With the Seasons
Unless you live in an area of the country with year-round warmth, it’s best to shut your irrigation system down before the first freeze of winter. This begins with closing the shut-off valve to all your outdoor water lines and draining all the water that remains in your pipes, sprinklers and hoses. Hoses should be coiled and stored in a garage or shed, along with portable sprinklers, until spring.
Some automatic sprinkler systems can’t drain by gravity alone, and must have the remaining water blown out with compressed air. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the winter shutdown procedures for your specific system.
When things thaw out in the spring, it’s time to thoroughly inspect all of your sprinkler heads, hoses, nozzles and spigots. Damaged equipment should be replaced and dirty equipment should be cleaned. This is especially important when it comes to sprinkler heads, as unattended clogs can increase pressure and damage certain parts of your sprinkler system.
When you’re ready to reopen the main shut-off valve, be sure to do it very slowly. Flooding your system with a rush of water can put damaging stress on pipes and fixtures.
Every so often -- and especially during the first watering of spring -- it’s important to closely observe all of your irrigation components to make sure they’re operating properly. Water should be reaching thirsty plants and grass, not the side of your home. If your irrigation system is portable, you can make necessary adjustments yourself. But if you have an underground sprinkler system that is out of alignment, you’ll need a professional to fine-tune your water streams.
While watching the flow of water, you should also keep an eye out for leaks or other problems with sprinkler heads. These should be repaired immediately, as they may be wasting water and overwatering your lawn.
And if you substantially change the landscaping of your lawn or garden, don’t forget to follow suit with adjustments to your irrigation system.
For help with maintenance, repairs, replacement or installation of lawn and garden irrigation systems, call upon your local plumbing pros.