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Maintenance / Troubleshooting

Irrigation systems, like all mechanical things, require some maintenance. Because most people have automatic systems that water very early in the morning, irrigation systems tend to be neglected until something goes wrong.

  • Big leaks - There is a geyser in your front yard and none of the normal irrigation controls you’re familiar with will shut it off.

    Where the irrigation system branches off from your house water system there is a valve with a handle to turn. Learn where it is before the big leak. If you live in a city, it is usually at the front of the house opposite the water meter.

  • Little leaks - The water is continually seeping out somewhere.

    This type of leak may be hard to find. Locating and repairing the leak may require parts that are not readily available at the local hardware store. Call a repairman who specializes in irrigation.

  • The water is spraying in the wrong direction.

    If it is a sprayhead or microspray you might be able to just grab the top of the unit and twist it in the right direction. If it is a rotor, it probably requires tools and knowledge you may not have; call an expert.

  • The drip system seems to be clogged.

    Replace the clogged dripper(s). It is not usually worth the trouble to try to clean them. Then clean the filter and flush the system. Clogging is not something that happens often in properly installed drip systems; if this is a recurring problem, have the system checked out by an expert. Locate a nearby irrigation supply house - one that specializes in irrigation equipment.

  • Too Much, Too Fast

    How fast a watering device applies water to the soil is called the application rate. How fast the soil takes in the water is called the infiltration rate. You may be able to apply water at an impressive rate but if the soil is taking four times as long to absorb it, then three quarters of the water you are applying is running off down the street.
    Your choices to avoid runoff are the same for all types of systems:

    1. Divide your total watering time into short intervals with time in between for soaking in. Note that, unlike choices 2 & 3, this is not a cure for the problem, but a coping mechanism.

    2. Change the soil. Aerate, amend or convert to raised beds.

    3. Change to a different watering device with a slower application rate.

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