How to Take Care of a Sprinkler Repair

June 04, 2021

How to Take Care of a Sprinkler Repair

A sprinkler repair success

When they work, lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis can be the perfect solution. We all know how brutal St. Louis summers can be. Keeping your grass perfectly watered all summer long can mean a luscious green lawn to impress all your neighbors. But when your system breaks and you’re in need of a sprinkler repair, it’s anything but picturesque. 

You might notice that a patch is soggier than the rest, or there’s a dry spot that’s turning brown. Or maybe your water bill has skyrocketed, and you suspect the sprinkler system is the culprit. Whatever alerts you to the issue, now you’ve got a real problem on your hands. How do you handle this necessary sprinkler repair?

We’ve got you covered. Here, we’ve broken down the sprinkler repair process into manageable steps, and we’ve got all the advice you need to get you started. Of course, you might be better off calling in the professionals, and we’ve included that advice where appropriate, as well. 

Identify the Problem

Lots of things can go wrong with lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis. You might have to do some sleuthing before you ever get started on a sprinkler repair. Even if you know something’s wrong, you might have to do a lot of investigating to figure out where exactly the problem lies. 

Look out for…

Look around for places in your yard that seem to be getting more water than others — maybe the grass is a little bit greener there, or maybe there’s literally standing water. You can run your sprinkler system, wait a few hours, and then see if there are any remaining wet spots. All of these signs can indicate a leak. 

Dry spots are another good indicator that your sprinkler needs repair. They might mean the sprinkler head needs an adjustment or the valve needs looking into. If the sprinkler head is stuttering, it probably has been cracked or clogged and needs immediate attention. Keep an eye on how much water pressure your system usually gets, and if it deviates significantly, look into a potential issue. If lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis aren’t watering the grass evenly, these problems will arise. 

Low pressure is an obvious issue, but too much pressure can also wear out your system way ahead of schedule. For the longevity of irrigation systems in St. Louis, make sure the water pressure stays in a reasonable range. And of course, if your water bill suddenly goes through the roof, that indicates that your system is using a lot more water than it should be, and you need to check it out for any leaks.

Where Things Might Go Wrong

Another good identification step you can take is checking the valves. You want to make sure the valves on the backflow device of any lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis are open. 

Valves are a common place for lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis to fail. One thing you’ll want to check is the solenoid in the valve. That’s a little door in there that opens to let water through. If there’s something wrong with the solenoid, you’ll need to replace it outright. We’ll talk through more specifics in a later section. The solenoid is the likely culprit when one valve won’t turn on but others will.

On the other hand, when one valve won’t turn off, that could be because of a damaged valve diaphragm or debris stuck in the valve. Taking the valve apart to check what’s going on would be the way to determine the exact issue.

If you have a whole zone in your irrigation system that’s not turning on at all, that might be an electrical issue. The problem could lie in the terminals feeding the wires that lead to the zone that’s not working, which you can use a multimeter to test for. If your voltage is too low, the controller needs to be replaced. But before you do that, you can also make sure that the wires are all intact and properly connected.

Before Starting Any Sprinkler Repairs…

Now that you’ve found where exactly the problem lies and figured out what needs to be fixed, you need to prepare for the actual sprinkler repair. Here are some steps you should take and some things to watch out for any time you’re fixing lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis.

Know where you’re digging.

Lots of sprinkler repairs are going to require you to dig up the pipes. Although they’re usually only a few inches deep, that could still cause major issues if you hit a utility line. It’s easy to avoid that, though. All you have to do is call 811 — someone will come out and mark where the utility lines are. You need to be precise to make sure you’re being safe and efficient.

Make sure you have the proper tools.

Of course, what tools are the right ones will depend on what kind of sprinkler repair you need to do. Depending on what needs fixing, you might need a screwdriver, hacksaw, slip joint pliers, spade, and a wire cutter. 

You’ll also want to be sure to get the right replacement parts and have them ready to go. Different lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis will use different parts, so make sure you’re getting parts that will fit in your system. Just make sure you have the parts you need before you start your sprinkler repair — that way, you’ll avoid the frustration of taking everything apart but not being able to put it back together. Rebuild kits for repairing valves are pretty common, and they can be great to have on hand for those types of sprinkler repair.

Make the Sprinkler Repair

Okay, so you’ve done all the preparation steps. You’ve identified the issue, found all the right tools and parts, and made sure you’re not digging anywhere you shouldn’t be. You’re all set to fix some lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis. Now what?

Once you’re ready to actually make a sprinkler repair, do make sure the system is completely turned off. That means there’s no power and no water running to the system. You want to avoid any accidents.

Valve Repairs

If you’ve determined that the valve is the issue, there are a few options for what the actual fix will be, as we mentioned previously. One of the easier ways to take care of a valve that won’t turn on in lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis is replacing the solenoid. You might want to try that kind of sprinkler repair first before replacing the whole valve. 

To do that, you’ll need to get the two wires connected to the solenoid out of there, then turn the solenoid counterclockwise to take it out of the valve. Then, put the new solenoid in and turn it clockwise. Finally, reconnect those wires. Boom, piece of cake.

To replace the whole valve is a much more involved process, but if a new solenoid doesn’t do the trick, that would be your next step. You’ll have to cut the pipes to remove the old valve. There might be height requirements for your valve, so you need to check with your local building department to make sure you don’t need to add more pipe to get to the correct height. Then you can install the new valve, connect the wires, and test it out.

If instead your problem is that the valve won’t turn off, you’ll need to take it apart and check the diaphragm. There might be little rocks or other debris stuck in there that are stopping the diaphragm from sealing properly. If that’s the case, it’s simply a matter of cleaning those out and closing the valve back up. But it’s not always that easy. You might encounter a damaged diaphragm that needs replacing. You also need to be sure that you put everything back properly so that it can seal well.

Electrical Repairs

As we talked about earlier, you might find in the investigation phase that the issue is the controller. If you need to replace it, you’ll want to try to get all the information off of it before disconnecting so that you can keep your watering schedule consistent — lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis will benefit from that consistency. 

When you’re sure there’s no electrical power going to the controller, you can remove the face and then disconnect the wires. Label them with masking tape as you go. Then, you can screw your new controller in and connect all the wires. With the notes you made before, you can program the new one just like the last one, and your problems are solved.

How much will your sprinkler repair cost?

If it’s a simple sprinkler repair that only requires a little, common part, then it won’t be a very expensive endeavor. These kinds of repairs are good DIY candidates. More complicated issues, like ones that involve the electrical component of any lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis, should probably be handled by professionals. You might save on labor costs up front by trying to do it yourself, but if you don’t possess the knowledge to get the job done properly, then it’s not going to really be fixed. 

Some parts of lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis are cheap — a sprinkler head costs as little as $2, and a replacement timer might only cost $25. However, other parts are more expensive. A backflow preventer is going to run you at least $100. And if you’re hiring a professional to do your sprinkler repair, they’re going to mark up the prices and charge an average of $50 to $100 an hour for labor.

Obviously, what projects you should take on and what projects you should leave to the pros will largely depend on your comfort level and experience with these kinds of tasks. If you’re ever not sure, it doesn’t hurt to call a sprinkler repair company and ask about it.

To Avoid Needing Sprinkler Repair…

All these steps are well and good when something’s broken, but you’d probably prefer for nothing to break in the first place. To avoid needing sprinkler repair, you’ll need to keep up with the maintenance of lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis.

The first, no-brainer step would be cleaning your sprinkler heads every so often. You can do that by unscrewing the top of the sprinkler head from the canister and then rinsing it in a bucket of water. You’ll want to make sure all the soil and debris are gone. An additional step would be cleaning the screen basket as well. Just take it out of the bottom of the head and rinse.

Another key maintenance step is to winterize your system every year. You’ll want to drain the water from the system and blow out any excess with a compressor. That way, there won’t be any water to freeze in the pipes when the temperatures dip down on those cold winter nights.

Of course, if any of these steps sounds like too much for you to take on, you can contact a company to do it for you. Many offer plans where they’ll come out and take care of everything. Whether you have a professional do it or you choose to go it alone, if you winterize and regularly clean your lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis, then you’ll have a better chance of not needing repair services.

Successful sprinkler repair starts here.

So, now you’ve got all the information you need to get started on repairing lawn irrigation systems in St. Louis. You know where to look for problems, how to prepare for making the sprinkler repair, and some tips for the more simple jobs. We’ve even given you some ballpark numbers on how much it might cost and thrown in some tips on how to keep your system in top shape so you don’t have to repair it.

Of course, all the blog posts in the world won’t take the place of real-life experience, so if you find yourself in over your head, you can always call in the professionals to help you out. A sprinkler repair service will give you the peace of mind that your system is well taken care of.