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05 Jan 2023

How to Turn On a Sprinkler System

Sprinkler system turned on by a Sprinkler Master technician

Whether you maintain your sprinkler system yourself or hire someone to do it for you, everyone should know how to turn on and off their sprinkler system. They are complicated though so how do you control your sprinklers?

There are multiple ways to turn a sprinkler system on and off. Older systems often have a valve that is turned manually with a key. Newer systems are controlled electronically by a timer in the building. Specific zones can also be turned on and off manually at the zone valve. 

Sprinkler Systems are complicated and every system is a little different. We’ll go over all of the basics so that you can be prepared to control your sprinkler system if you ever need to. 

Electronic Timers

There are a lot of reasons you may want to be able to turn on or off your sprinkler system. A common one might be that you’re going to have a party outside or maybe you have a project and you don’t want your sprinklers turning on in the middle of the event. You may want to turn on the system if it’s been dry and your plants need extra water.

Most systems around American homes and businesses are controlled via an electronic controller or timer. This allows you to program the system to automatically run on specific days at specific times. 

The timer in your house will typically be located either in your garage or in your basement. Sometimes it might also be located on the outside wall of your home, but this isn’t as common. Once you’ve located the timer you’ll be able to turn on and off your sprinkler system. Every system is different, but here are the typical steps to do that: 

Steps to Turn Off a Sprinkler Timer

  1. If the controls on your timer are under a plastic cover open the latch on the side of it. In rare cases, you may need a key for this step. Especially if the box is outside or in your garage.
  2. Turn the dial to the off position. Every sprinkler system is a little different but most of the time the timers have a dial as the main control. If your timer has buttons there should be an off button you can press. 
  3. You’re done! Your entire system won’t start again until you go back and turn it on again, so don’t forget to do that.

Steps to Turn On a Sprinkler Timer 

  1. Locate the timer
  2. Turn the dial from off to auto-run. If you previously turned your timer off for some reason and want to go back to your automatic watering schedule you just need to turn the timer to the auto-run position. 
Example of Sprinkler Timer on the outside of a home. Can be used to turn on a sprinkler system.

Manually Turning On Your Sprinklers Using a Timer

You can also manually start your sprinkler system from your timer, if there’s no test option this is how you would do that. To manually turn on your sprinklers you’ll want to select the manual start option. On some timers, there will be separate buttons to start just a zone and one for the whole system. Other timers will just have one option and then you select what you want to run on the screen, Orbit timers are like this. 

You’ll then be able to use the buttons to tell the timer how long you want the sprinkler zones to run manually. If you’re just testing them you can run them for 1 to 2 minutes. This will be enough time to determine if the zone is turned on and to note any problem areas in each zone. If you’re manually watering the area because it’s looking extra dry you could set each zone to manually run for 10 minutes. On some timers the timer will go back to the regular schedule after manually running, on others you need to switch the dial back to auto-run. You’ll need to research what your timer will do. 

Many systems also have a separate setting to test all of the zones. There should be an option to test all zones. If your goal in turning on the system is to check for problems, select that option and then walk around your home or have a partner there to walk around and make sure all of your zones are working that way. 

If this is your first time turning on your sprinkler timer you may need to program the sprinkler schedule. You do this by first entering the date and time. You’ll then be able to set each zone to a specific start time and run time. 

Manually Turn On and Off a Valve

You can also turn a zone on and off without using the timer. This is especially useful if something needs to be repaired or if you just don’t want to mess with the timer. 

Sprinkler Valve box opened to manually turn on sprinkler system

Steps to Manually Turn On and Off a Zone

  1. Find the Valve Box: the valve box will be in the ground often level with the ground and will have a plastic lid that you can lift up. The lids are usually green rectangles with rounded corners or circles. The best place to start looking for your valve box is outside of where the timer is in your house or near where the water line enters your property. Smaller properties will often have all of the valves in the same box, while larger properties may have separate boxes for valves closer to the zone they control. 
  2. Take the Lid off the Box: Often this can be done by hand. If the lid is stubborn use a screwdriver or some pliers to pry the box up at the hole on the side. 
  3. Find the Right Valve: If you have multiple valves in the same spot box you’ll need to determine which is the correct valve for the zone you want. Hopefully, the valves were labeled, but if they haven’t you’ll need to test each one to see which the right one is. If you do that you may want to take the time to label each valve. 
  4. Turn the Solenoid ¼ Turn to the Left to Turn On the Sprinklers: The solenoid is the small black cylinder or box that is on top of the valve and has the wires going into it. It should have a small handle on the side to help you turn it. The sprinklers should come on after doing this. 
  5. Turn the Solenoid ¼ Turn to the Right to Turn Off the Solenoid

That is how you would manually turn off or on a zone. If you want to turn off the water to a zone for an extended period you can turn the flow control screw down to shut off the flow even if the timer opens the solenoid. Just remember to open it again when you’re ready. 

If you’d like to know more about how a valve works check out this video explaining how a sprinkler valve works and how you can turn it on or off.

Manual Systems

Some older systems may not have a timer. If your system is like this you’ll have to open each valve manually. There are a few different ways you can do this. 

First, you’ll need to find the valve box. Like we did in the last section. After finding that the valves inside the box will likely just have a handle you can turn to open the valve. If there is no handle, the valve may require a valve key to open it. These tools usually have two handles at one end and then a long section down to either a small box or fork that fits around the valve. You’ll then turn the valve to the left until the water comes on. For deeper valves, the key will be quite large, for valves near the surface it may be small enough to fit in your hand. 

Manual systems like this are rare and can usually be upgraded with new automatic valves and a timer. If you want to upgrade your system consider hiring Sprinkler Master to make the transition seamless. 

Wireless and Bluetooth Timers

Like many other home systems, you can now get timers that you can easily control from an app on your phone. If you have a newer home and aren’t sure if your system has this feature locate the timer in your house. Once you found it you can search the brand and model to see if it will connect to the internet. Most timers that do this will say on them if they do this. From there the apps are easy to use and understand for turning on and off your system. 


If you’d like to upgrade your old timer to a new one that you can easily control from your phone contact Sprinkler Master. Our technicians will get you the right timer for your system and get it set up and working perfectly. 

Hire a Professional

If you need help setting up your sprinkler system to run at the correct times or if it’s not working correctly contact Sprinkler Master. Our technicians work with sprinkler systems every day and have the experience to solve almost any problem you may be having. You can find the location nearest you by visiting our locations page. 

15 Feb 2022

Repair Sprinkler Funny/Swing Pipe

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What is Funny Pipe?

 

Funny pipe, or swing pipe, is a small flexible pipe that's used to allow flexibility with installing sprinkler heads and other small parts of a sprinkler system. using funny pipe off of a lateral line allows you to have flexibility to ensure that your sprinkler heads are sitting level and at the right height in the ground.

 
 

Connections

 

Funny pipe is connected using a spiral barb fitting. The typical connection for a funny pipe is a spiral barb fitting on one end with a threaded end for a sprinkler head or the PVC connection. The spiral barb fittings are very tight, and simply press onto the pipe. The barb end is tight enough that it shouldn't leak or slip off. No hose clamps on spiral barb fittings are needed, though you should still use pipe thread seal tape on the threaded ends.
 
To connect a fitting to the pipe, take the fitting. Press the fitting directly into the end of the pipe as far as you can. Twist and press the fitting into the end of the pipe until no more barbs are visible. No hose clamps are needed.

 
 

Causes and Finding Problems

 

If you think you need to repair a section of the funny pipe, you can usually find a wet spot in the ground where the water has leaked from the pipe and caused the dirt to become water saturated and muddy. If the pipe is exposed,, it's usually easy to see a leak coming from the pipe when the system is pressurized.

 

Funny pipe can be easily cut or punctured by shovels or sharp objects, and the pipe can crimp on itself and cut off water flow when bent too far. If you have a problem with a section of your funny pipe,, it's best to replace that entire section of funny pipe rather than try to patch it. This means removing or replacing the fittings from the broken funny pipe, cutting another section of funny pipe, reinstalling the fittings, and finally replacing the funny pipe where it was before, and burying it again.

 
 

Where is Funny Pipe Used?

 

Funny pipe is used to connect sprinkler heads to lateral lines, and generally shouldn't be run longer than 1 or 2 feet. So make sure your system is using PVC or Poly pipe for longer Pipe runs.

 
 

Click Here to contact Sprinkler Master!

 

If you want professional help with sprinkler repair, see if we're in your area! Or, learn more about sprinkler repair by visiting our YouTube Channel!

14 Feb 2022

Sprinkler Head Won’t Pop Up

 

 

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What to do if a Sprinkler Head Doesn't Come Up

 

Check for Debris

 

If you have a sprinkler head that won’t pop up, there might be something you can do to quickly remedy the problem. Some common problems are a leak in the sprinkler pipe, a clogged sprinkler head, dirt in

the body, a cracked sprinkler, or even just grass growing over the sprinkler head too far.

To start off, make sure there’s no grass or dirt covering the sprinkler head. Remove grass from the sprinkler head, and turn on the water to the zone with the problematic sprinkler head. Press the sprinkler 

head down while water is on, and  wiggle it around a bit to see if you can break it free from any debris. It might help to try to grab the head with your hands and pul it up as well. This helps break any debris from the sprinkler and it should get washed out by the water pressure.

If that doesn’t fix it, check the nozzle of the sprinkler head. If there’s any debris that you can obviously see, try to gently pry it out.

 

Check for a Broken Sprinkler

It’s also very common to have a broken sprinkler head. They’re pretty easy to find as well. Look for cracks in the housings, or heads, or plastic pieces around the sprinkler head. If a sprinkler head is broken, they usually have to just be replaced. We have a video linked in the description that goes over how to easily replace a broken sprinkler head.

 

 

Check for Low Pressure

If these haven’t solved your issue, it’s probably low water pressure. The easiest fix for this is to make sure that all of the valves and flow controls are completely open. If only 1 zone has low pressure, check the flow control on the automatic valve. 

Low pressure on a zone or a specific sprinkler head could also be a leak in the water line. The easiest way to see if it's a leak and to find where the leak is, look for a place in your lawn or yard that’s wet and muddy or lower than the rest of the ground around it. Random wet or green spots in your yard could definitely be the spot where a leak is. 

 

Repair the PVC Line

Repairing a leak can be a lot more complicated, and we recommend calling professionals to repair sprinkler lines. If you want to see if Sprinkler Master offers services in your area, visit sprinklermaster.repair, or the link right here. If you’re in an area where we are, we’d be happy to come help you repair a sprinkler line.

If you want to try to replace the sprinkler line, you do it at your own risk. Contractors that are insured are the much safer option. We’re not responsible for any damages you cause to your home by trying to repair or dig out a sprinkler line. But if you’d like to learn how to repair a PVC or Funny pipe line, CLICK HERE to find videos that can help. 

 

Water Source

If none of these work, it might just be a problem with the water coming into your home. If it’s been a long-term problem, you might have to resort to using low pressure sprinkler heads, or splitting your sprinkler zones. Again, we highly recommend using a professional to install a pump for you. 

 

If the issue is relatively new and isn’t caused by new construction of homes in the town or additions or changes you’ve made to your sprinkler system, it’s possible that your pressure vacuum breaker needs to be repaired or replaced, or a main line isn’t on all the way. If it’s only one zone in your system that’s got low pressure, double check the automatic valve’s flow control is completely open, and look closely for signs of a pipe leak somewhere on that zone. Another possibility is a tree root may be squeezing one of your pipes, reducing water flow. If you know of a sprinkler pipe running by a tree, you may have to dig up the pipe around the tree and cut and splice a new piece of pipe away from the tree roots.

 

Get the Sprinkler Masters on the Job

If you want professional, licensed and insured help with your sprinkler system, Click Here to find out if Sprinkler Master offers services near you. If you need advice or help on something, comment below. We’d be happy to respond, or even make a video to help you with your problem with your sprinklers.

Sprinkler Head Work

 

 

03 Apr 2018

Spring Sprinkler Startup

The 8 Steps to getting your lawn sprinklers going.

  1. Reseal all sprinkler plugs or drain valves.
  2. Open main stop and waste or main sprinkler valve slowly.
  3. Do visual inspections of the main line, valve manifold, and backflow unit.
  4. Make adjustments to the sprinkler valves by turning off the bleeder screws and adjusting the flow control to the proper setting for your system.
  5. Power up the sprinkler timer, then run through each zone to make sure it is getting power and turn the valve on correctly.
  6. Check to make sure that sprinklers are working correctly on all zones and make any minor adjustments.
  7. Check each lateral line to ensure that they boost each individual zone. Then perform a thorough examination of the lateral supply lines. Check sprinkler heads and risers for proper process and direction. Appraise each area for correct coverage and accurate performance pressure. Any alterations, modifications, or repairs needed will be noted. Several common repairs/adjustments are:
    1. Garden sprinklers may need to be raised due to shrub or flower growth.
    2. Pop-up sprinkler heads may need to be transferred due to shrub or flower growth, landscape changes, fence or tree installations.
    3. Bad sprinkler nozzles that are not spraying right may need to be replaced
    4. Sprinkler lines, main or lateral lines, that are broken need to be repaired.
    5. Sprinkler electrical issues, such as a timer or valve solenoid problems, need to be resolved.
  8. Adjust the Sprinkler timer to the weather for the season and program it for how long it will run and what days/time of day it will come on.

Sprinkler Master specializes in sprinkler repair for all types of systems and every type of lawn and/or garden. We strive for outstanding customer service through excellent communication and work quality. Our goal is to make sure that you are satisfied with your Sprinkler Master experience!