I'm drowning in sorrow, water, frustration...
June 16, 2012 5:07 PM   Subscribe

I have been battling with the sprinkler system at my house for almost a year (previously on MeFi) and I am about to give up as it appears that it has gotten the better of me, here is a brief history... When we moved in the outdoor watering system was a mess, there were drip lines on 24 hours a day, many of the sprinkler valves were not working properly, etc. I have spent many hours fixing, replacing and getting a better understanding of what is going on out there, I found multiple system and wiring all dead from neglect, quite a mess.

Today I would like to say that it is all running smoothly and perfectly.

I have mapped out all the sprinklers and the watering lines, I have removed old vestigial systems, I have blocked off areas that we do not want to water and I have replaced about 80 of the valve heads with news ones.

Up until recently things were looking pretty good. All the valves were working properly and it seemed I had finally done a good thing for our house which spent 22 years neglected before we moved in.

A few weeks ago I changed out a few more valves and since then things have gone haywire. IN a nutshell two of the three "circuits" I have seems to be under pressured, and even more confusing is that one of them half the circuit is perfect and then all the sudden the valves all are just sputtering and cannot fully extend.

Before I go nuts, I would love to find out anything I can about how to really troubleshoot this situation, here is what I know.

Water pressure at the house is great.

Five weeks ago they were all working great.

There are no broken lines as far as I can tell, certainly nothing obvious, no sink holes or muddy areas.

There are three circuits we are using at the house. Ones works fine.

One has half that works fine and then the rest all sputter and cannot getting started

The third circuit works if I cover one of the valves and keep it closed and allow the other ones to open completely. This would seem like a pressure thing, but I am pretty sure it is not.

Oh please help me not lose my mind over this. And if all else fails, who do I actually call to figure this thing out for me once and for all?

Thanks peeps
posted by silsurf to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm guessing here, but my money's on the following:

The line which has half working fine, half not - you have a partial blockage between the last sprinkler that was working fine and the first one that isn't. Probably right before the first one that isn't. Most likely algae buildup that got flushed down the line from your excellent reno work.

The one which works if you cover one of the valves -- does it matter which valve? I suspect something similar to the first situation. You have good pressure going into the system but then a build-up of algae or other gunk somewhere that is reducing the pressure.

What happened was that the system worked fine when you did your repairs, but then the renewed flow of water flushed out crap that was hiding somewhere and now you have to deal with that. The good news -- it probably won't happen again.
posted by unSane at 5:37 PM on June 16, 2012

it sounds to me like there is dirt in the heads of the sprinklers that need to be flushed out or taken appart and cleaned. This has happened to us and we to need to fix it. Call a reputable irrigation co. to fix it. If there is certain heads that are bubbling , it sounds like its clogged with dirt. Needs to be flushed out. Hope this makes sense.
posted by brittaincrowe at 5:38 PM on June 16, 2012

Why not call a sprinkler guy to check things out for you? I'd bet he can give you some tips on how to maintain it yourself since you've clearly invested a lot of time and effort into learning about the system. Make a list with every sprinkler question you've ever wanted to know and have at it.

If you just search Google and/or Yelp for the name of your city and "sprinklers" or "irrigation," you should turn up a bunch of choices.
posted by zachlipton at 5:44 PM on June 16, 2012

Can you blow out the lines as if you were winterizing and then reset? My neighbor was having hella troubles and then decided just to winterize and say screw it and water with the hose. His teenage son then turned it on not knowing, and it's been working like a champ ever since. Go figger.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:00 PM on June 16, 2012

In order to do a full flush or blow out, should I remove the tops from all the valves on that circuit, or just some, or the ones at the end of the line?
posted by silsurf at 6:03 PM on June 16, 2012

The quick way -- remove the valve at the end of the line. This will work if your gunk is in the line as opposed to hung up in a particular valve.

The right way -- remove the first valve.. blow it out... replace it. Remove the second valve... blow it out... replace it. And so on.

Maybe try version A, then version B.
posted by unSane at 6:43 PM on June 16, 2012

Perhaps the system was designed for sprinkler heads with a certain flow rate, and the new ones have a higher flow rate?
posted by gjc at 7:58 AM on June 17, 2012

So I purged the entire circuit and nothing changed. I did however discover that the pressure does seems to diminish as a certain point. I was going to do two things.

excavate that area a little bit to make sure the pipes are intact.

cap off some of the valves that I belief are not necessary to begin with and thus increase overall pressure.
posted by silsurf at 4:56 PM on June 17, 2012

It seems to be a pressure issue and I guess the valves I am using use more water than the previous ones as gjc suggested.

I capped off some valves which I felt were redundant anyway and it all seems to be working properly.


posted by silsurf at 7:57 PM on June 27, 2012

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