Check sprinkler heads for water, money savings

Utilize irrigation evaluation/audit to improve efficiency 10% up to 30%

Staff report
Faulty sprinkler heads often are the cause of poor irrigation and increased water costs and can easily be fixed.

Since landscape irrigation increases water use by 35 to 75 percent during the summer irrigation season, Texas A&M AgriLife recommends landscape water conservation practices be adapted to reduce water use, save money, and still maintain a beautiful landscape.  Water conservation is the easiest and least expensive method to make water resources sustainable for future use.

A table demonstrating how much water conservation practices can save.

Most of the time checking each sprinkler head for proper function and distribution will identify problems before the landscape starts suffering.  A major problem with most irrigation systems is poor distribution and maintenance.

Use this checklist to identify and fix problems yourself or call a licensed irrigator.

• Sprinkler head spraying water onto the sidewalk, driveway, or road

o   Fix: redirect spray nozzle so water is applied only on the landscape; if spray pattern cannot be redirected, replace the nozzle with a spray patter that only applies water to the landscape

• Spray nozzle missing, not operating, or reduced water flow.

o   Fix: replace nozzle and filter; check nozzle and filter for damage or blockage

• Poor distribution pattern

o   Fix: check nozzle for damage or blockage; replace nozzle with proper patter; increase or decrease throw by turning screw on top of nozzle.  Tighten the screw to decrease the throw or loosen the screw to lengthen the throw.

• Sprinkler head bubbling or gushing water out the top

o   Fix: cracked or broken nozzle; replace nozzle

• Sprinkler head no longer straight up and down

o   Fix: reset pipe to perpendicular; this may require you to loosen the soil around the irrigation head and riser, pull the head perpendicular and then tamp the soil back in place or re-install tee.

• Sprinkler creates a cloud or mist

o   Fix: usually caused by too much pressure; install pressure regulator either at meter or use pressure regulation heads.

• Grass, shrubbery, or tree blocking distribution pattern

o   Fix: raise or lower riser; move sprinkler head

• Dry landscape areas or poor coverage

o   Fix: Correct distribution; maintain a mulch layer on all planted beds; aerate and add about ½ inch of compost to lawn area.

• Water bubbling, dripping, or gushing all the time

o   Fix: broken or leaking pipe or valve

• Runoff occurs before adequate water applied

o   Fix: soak and cycle – on your irrigation controller set the station to run for two or three short intervals instead of one longer time.

• Area along road, driveway or sidewalk stay too dry

o   Fix: correct poor distribution, run this station for several short periods with about 30 minutes in between cycles; aerate and add about ½ inch of compost.  The best alternative for this area may be to hand water or utilize soaker hoses.

For further information, contact Mark Arnold, County Extension Agent-Agriculture/Natural Resources, 701 South I-35E Service Road #3, Waxahachie, or call 972-825-5175 or email: .