Want to know how to troubleshoot and repair lawn irrigation system on your own? Here are some tips for repairing and troubleshooting your irrigation system. 

In-ground lawn irrigation systems are the best thing you can get for your landscape and garden to save your valuable water without wasting it. That’s because the sprinkler water system is strategically placed and the water output is carefully timed, which gives you control of how and when you want to water. 

This irrigation system can work perfectly for many seasons without any problems. Understanding the in-ground lawn irrigation system and how they operate will help you to understand the issues so that you can repair the irrigation system. Most homeowners can repair some of these issues themselves. Here is some advice on determining the causes and how to repair your lawn irrigation system.    

How Lawn Sprinkler Systems Work

A single sprinkler is part of an array of sprinklers giving water above the ground. Each sprinkler is buried about 12 inches below the ground. Each of the sprinklers is placed based on the sun exposure, elevation, and surrounding lawn zones. 

A sprinkler system has these few basics parts: 

  1. Water Source
  2. Pipes
  3. Timer
  4. Valves
  5. Sprinklers

An in-ground lawn irrigation system works in the following ways.

  • The water supply pipe from the central water system first passes through a valve box which is placed into the ground at ground level. The valve box divides the line into individual zones which are controlled by a single zone valve for each zone.
  • The zone valve is controlled by an electronic controller that signals the water valve when to turn on and turn off. It also sets the time and duration for each watering session with low voltage wires. 
  • Once it is activated, water flows through the pipe and forces the sprinkler to sprinkle water all over the ground. 
  • When the water pressure stops, the sprinkler head automatically goes back underground. 

Tools and Supplies Required For Repair

  • Screwdriver
  • Multimeter
  • Shovel (if needed)
  • Hacksaw (if needed)

Problem 1: Sprinkler Head is Not Working or Leaking

One of the most common problems in a lawn irrigation system is when the sprinkler head is not working or leaking. In this case you should look for the following:

  • Damage in the plastic casing of the sprinkler heads. 
  • Sprinkler heads that do not come out. 
  • Water that sprays excessively or not at all.
  • Sprinkler’s head is completely broken. 

Replacing Broken Sprinkler Heads

  • Dig all around the sprinkler to uncover the head. 
  • Unscrew the torn-out or broken sprinkler head from the riser. 
  • Screw in the new sprinkler head and hand-tighten it.

Clean Clogged Head and Reset 

  • Open the sprinkler head by unscrewing the case at the top of the head. 
  • Wash away soil and debris with a bucket of water. 
  • Remove the screen basket under the sprinkler head and clean that with water. 
  • Adjust the sprinkler head watering range before you set it up. Make the final adjustment with running water.

Repair the Valve

  • A worn-out or damaged valve can cause the leakage of the sprinkler head. Take out the valve, clean, and rebuild it. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, then the valve needs to be replaced.
  • A valve that is set up backward can also cause the issue. Check the valve to be sure the flow direction is accurate.  

Problem 2: Low Water Pressure

This low-pressure problem is when the sprinkler head barely sprays the water. Sometimes the head does not come out because of it. 

Check the Valves

  • If you face low water pressure, check the zone valves in the valve box to be sure they are opening when the zone is turned on. 
  • Also check the water main pressure to be sure enough pressure is coming to your system. 

Find and Repair Leaks

  • Before you start repairing, always turn off the controller.
  • Remove the damaged section of the line.
  • Put a new section of pipe and clamp one end with a slip coupling. 
  • Insert another slip coupling and clamp the other end.

Repair Crushed Pipes

  • Dig through the water line until you find the damaged pipe. If the line is near any trees, then start examining from that area. 
  • Cut the damaged piece of pipe off with a cutter or hacksaw.. 
  • If roots from a tree damaged the line, move the line away from the tree by making a new trench.
  • Cut a new piece of pipe and place it where the damaged pipe was.
  • Then connect the new section of pipe with the regular couplings and band clamps. 

Problem 3: Sprinkler Zone Does Not Turn On

When the sprinkler zone does not turn on, the problem is mainly with the electrical signal running through the valve’s controller. More likely, it is caused by a faulty valve that requires rebuilding or replacement. 

Check Controller for Low Voltage

Your irrigation system is split into various zones. So, if you have a zone that is not turning on then you possibly have electrical issues in that specific zone. 

  • Be sure all wires for each zone are attached to the controller terminals tightly, also make sure the transformer is plugged in and the circuit breaker is turned on inside the main panel.
  • After that, test the voltage in the nonworking zone with a multimeter
  • Switch on the dead zone on the controller. 
  • Set your multimeter device on voltage and put either of the two leads on the common terminal of the controller. The common terminal is usually marked “C” or “COM.”
  • Put the second lead on the non-functioning zone’s terminal. The voltage required range is 24 to 28 volt. If the voltage is too low, then replacing the controller itself is probably required.  

Test the Controller Transformer

  • Check to see the transformer’s voltage by touching both multimeter leads on the transformer terminals marked “24 VACS”. Do this while the transformer unit is plugged in. If the voltage reading is less than “22 VACS” on the transformer, then you may need to replace the transformer itself. 

Replace Sprinkler Head Solenoid

  • Disconnect the cables and screw off the faulty solenoid. Set up a new one and fasten it until it’s finger-tight. 
  • After that, use waterproof connectors to reconnect the new solenoid’s cables to the common wire and the zone wire.

Problem 4: Leakage around Valve Zone

  • On valves where the anti-siphon device is set up into the valve, you can resolve this issue by simply tightening the screws holding the cover to the valve’s body.
  • A damaged diaphragm inside the valve can cause leakage. For that, disassemble and rebuild the valve with a new diaphragm. 
  • A cracked valve body can cause leakage. In that case, replace the valve zone. 

These are just a few of the countless issues that may arise from an irrigation system. If you are handy with repairing broken item you could possibly repair many of these issues on your own. However, if you would rather not take a chance at damaging your system, we recommend hiring an irrigation repair specialist to repair the system.