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From The Pros: Sprinkler Repairs for the Aging System

Sprinkler repairs shouldn’t be a mystery. Just like people, aging sprinkler systems have had cuts and scrapes and maybe a broken bone here or there. In a sprinkler system, aging shows up as; broken heads, leaking pipes, fatigued valves, electrical surge impaired controllers and damaged wires. Any number of incidents occurs with sprinklers and we’ve seen a great deal of them.

That doesn’t mean that repairs should be a mystery to the homeowner. Recognizing that many previous repairs have been applied to a 10-20+-year-old system can help homeowners understand complications the next repair may bring. Fundamentally, sprinkler systems are a network of buried wires, pipes, valves and heads all connected to and managed by a controller (usually in the garage). Repairs will always encompass those fundamental components one way or another.

Common repairs are sometimes needed to correct failed and fatigued components. Just as age, fatigue & damages cause people to have component replacements (knee/hip/heart/etc) — sprinklers too have component replacements (valves/pipe/fittings/heads/nozzles/controllers). Years of use cause fatigue, damages, and failures- true for both people and sprinklers. Sadly, nothing lasts forever, but gratefully, most things can be repaired or replaced.


Whether dealing with doctors or irrigation professionals, many problematic symptoms are common to multiple maladies and testing enables the necessary process of elimination required before finally resolving an issue. Normal wear and tear of both our bodies and our sprinklers systems take its toll. Maintaining ourselves and our sprinklers takes time, observation, awareness, and management.

So it is with sprinklers. Symptoms present themselves – usually through too much or too little water. Dry spots, wet spots, or non-working spots within our yards are what we notice. Licensed irrigators are professional troubleshooters, who, through testing, are able to diagnose and resolve most sprinkler problems.
Other common repairs include replacement of parts from damages. We forget that roofers, landscapers, foundation workers, fence workers, cable layers, pest control professionals and all types of foot traffic have been through our yards. Those visits could have inadvertently created any number of seen or unseen damages. Workers in your yard are usually there to perform something other than sprinkler work. Sometimes in the pursuit of that task, your sprinklers get damaged, the worker may tell you, they may not, they may try to fix it, and they may not. Chances are that issue will reveal itself as a symptom further down the road – could be a failed repair, low water pressure, poor coverage, new geysers from broken heads, again, a number of symptoms could arise.

Still, other common sprinkler repairs are due to changes we, as homeowners, elect to make – extended patios, new decks, resurfacing the pool decking, trellises & arbors, enlarged flower beds, removal of landscaping, installation of new landscaping, back yard renovations. Homeowners generally engage a company to undertake the delivery of our visions. We make it through the demo, the construction & mud or mess and try to focus on the end game – -how nice our revisions will inevitably be. Contractors frequently tell us during projects “don’t worry about that”. Well if the construction work involves your sprinklers unless you have engaged a licensed irrigator, worry. Construction specialists have seldom licensed irrigation specialists too. Corrections or changes the “don’t worry about it” contractors make are typical of the caliber that won’t be noticed until after they collect their fees and have departed for good from your project. You may notice in 2 months or next summer or next time you run your sprinklers.

Homeowners who understand that aged sprinkler systems that have suffered through multiple band-aids, reroutes, electrical surges, tree roots, new fences, reworked landscaping, cable/internet provider changes, foundation work, roofers on-premises, (… the list of people and changes that have happened in a 10-20+-year-old yard and sprinkler system are many) – these aware homeowners will better recognize the time and troubleshooting that must go on to correct & repair the symptom’s issues finally uncovered.

We would all like our sprinkler repairs to be quick and inexpensive. Patience is our best remedy for resolving issues and understanding that what we would all like to be simple, more frequently than not, is complicated. Most sprinkler issues can be repaired. Throwing up your hands and abandoning your existing system for a new one is rarely needed. Always use licensed irrigation professionals and ask for explanations. The explanation may take more time, but if they can’t explain what they’ve done, how can you trust the repair?

Caryn has 24 years in the landscape/irrigation industry. She was the founder and co-owner of Heads Up Sprinkler Co., LLC for 19 years in Plano Texas. Heads Up Sprinkler Co., LLC business model, in addition to delivering sustainable residential irrigation repair services, provides Homeowner Education and outreach for multiple North Texas cities through hands-on training during city-sponsored events in the communities they work in. During her years with Heads Up Sprinkler Co., LLC she along with her business partner installed the first sub-surface drip for a Texas Hill Country Winery powered by a Rachio controller. Other contributions to the Green Industry are the 2009 Toro Smart Water Award, 2012 Environmental Star of Excellence Award for Small Business and Smart Water Irrigation Design Award. In 2015 she was acknowledged for her role as “Women in Landscape” in an article by Irrigation & Green Industry magazine. Caryn looks forward to her future as an Independent Contractor educating Commercial Managers, Irrigation Contractors, and Residential Homeowners to discover best watering practices with easy to use proven cloud-based technology.

POSTED AT   01 MAY 2020     |     BY   CARYN WALZ
Caryn Walz