What You Need to Know About Your Irrigation System

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Landscape Design from the Ground Up
December 5, 2019
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Irrigation & Sprinkler Systems

People who buy a house or put in charge of a building quickly discover they now have an irrigation system to look after. It’s good to have a functioning sprinkler system to help water lawns and plants, but it can be a sensitive system to maintain. 


Before turning a system on for the first time, it’s a good idea to call a licensed specialist for maintenance. For those introduced to a system in disrepair, or even if your system currently functions, here is a rundown on things you need to consider.


Irrigation equipment and digging trenches Irrigation team digging a trench Digging irrigation trench in a field


Irrigation Systems are Technical and Fragile


One season without winterizing an irrigation system is all it takes to ruin it, even when it’s new.


These days, most systems are built with controls that automatically start and shut down your outdoor sprinklers, but they can’t winterize the system, or fix broken sprinkler heads for you in the spring. 


To keep an organized system, think in terms of a biannual maintenance program.


Over the course of a fast-growing spring and high-traffic summer, your irrigation can take a beating. Heavy downpours, frequent mowing, weeding, or lots of foot-traffic can all have a punishing effect on sprinkler lines and heads.


To-Do List for Winterizing Sprinklers


  1. Locate your Sprinkler Heads
  2. Clean your Filters
  3. Reset or Replace Sprinkler Heads
  4. Blow Out the Sprinkler Lines
  5. Set System for Spring


First, you need to locate your sprinkler heads; clean your filters, and reset or replace any heads, all before the main operation of blowing them out. Otherwise, there can be a blockage that can leave water in the system, which endangers pipe and fittings in a hard freeze. 


Remember that irrigation lines, especially those close to the sprinklers, are seldom deep enough to avoid freezing, and they are not insulated. Diligent, regular maintenance is the only thing that protects them.


Ball Valve and Air Stem


With the system repaired and intact, each line is blown out with an air compressor, which requires each line to have a second ball valve and an air valve stem. 


Most irrigation companies will install these with the system but sometimes they will need to be installed retroactively.


Blowing Out The System


Proper attachments are a significant reason you may call an irrigation specialist, at least for your first season winterizing. The compressors we use for this job are larger than are commonly available to a homeowner or non-specialized contractor; too much pressure can crack irrigation pipe, and too little will be ineffective. 


If repairs are needed, a professional will have the experience to do so, and most likely will have easy access to replacement parts as well.


The last step is to set the irrigation control to winter mode. This could be just suspending the cycles, or in newer control boxes, setting it to turn the system on automatically in the spring.


Setting Irrigation for Spring


Winter can be hard on an irrigation system, so, to avoid problems, it should be inspected again in the spring before reactivated. 


You may find broken or run-over sprinkler heads and some issues may not be apparent until a pool of water develops. If you’re lucky, you may be able to make a quick inspection, set your control unit, and turn it on. 


Neglect will cause an irrigation system to fall into disrepair. Pipe and sprinkler heads get damaged, or control information gets lost and not transferred to relevant people. 


Quite frequently, it can become a mystery to figure out which valves control which lines.


Remember, bi-annual maintenance is the most effective and most cost-efficient way to get full use of your irrigation system.






For quotes or emergency services, call our irrigation department at (254) 744-6489.

Contact us at info@fitzltd.com for any additional questions you may have.



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