Thank you for visiting the Hessenauer Sprinkler Repair and Irrigation blog and website. We like to help our irrigation clients with sprinkler and drainage issues that could be the start to bigger problems. Today we would like to focus on troubleshooting common irrigation problems and their solutions.
An irrigation system is an intricate tangle of wires and lines which thread from one complex, independent system to the next. This can really make troubleshooting a painstaking process of trial and error.
Customers often complain about the same variety of familiar problems: “I’m not getting any water,” “My sprinkler irrigation timer stopped working,” “There’s not enough water pressure.” Fortunately, irrigation problems can be categorized into two groups, hydraulic and electric.
Common zone problems include either a zone that will not open, a zone working all of the time, or no zones working at all. Many times these issues are caused by low water pressure.
When low water pressure is the problem, increasing the water pressure would be considered the obvious fix, however, when nothing is working at all, it can be difficult just to know where to start.
If none of the irrigation system zones are turning on, check that the main valve for the irrigation system is open. Sometimes, valves in the backflow system will also be turned off. To properly check the backflow, the second valve needs to be closed to test it properly, and some irrigation “specialists” could forget to turn it back on.
Underground water lines are susceptible to pressure from plant roots, most notably those from large trees, especially in older sprinkler irrigation systems. Tree roots can wrap around water pipes therefore choking and closing them off, and even causing underground leaks that cause flooding problems. This is called “root intrusion” and is further explained in this blog post entitled, “Tree Root Damage to Sprinkler Systems”.
Failing irrigation zones can be caused by an electrical problem, which can manifest as a problem with the timer, the valve, the solenoid, or the wire. A bad connection is commonly the issue since some companies may not use waterproof connectors, and some even use electrical tape. With all those wires getting corroded, a good electrical connection could be difficult to achieve.
If you suspect the issue is electrical, the timer controller is a good place to start. There is a way to test the lead wire to check if the impulse is being sent properly with a voltage meter. If it does get power, there is likely a problem with the solenoid, which can easily be swapped out. Sometimes there may be a cut in the wire, or an issue with the wire connection to the solenoid. If the power still won’t come on, try cutting the wire a bit further. Then take the conduit from the wire and check the power again. We suggest leaving these testing practices to your team of irrigation professionals.
If the irrigation system does get power, there is likely a problem with the solenoid, which can easily be swapped out. Cuts in the wire may be tricky to locate, and finding the cut in the wire is made easier by using a wire locator, which finds and tracks irrigation wiring and wiring faults. If all the stations are not functioning properly, it may be the common wire, which connects all the valves.
Problems in specific zones could be the result of a broken water pipe. Usually the grass will pop up in the problem area, hence making locating the issue as easy as finding this area of the lawn, or a flooded section. All it takes is one broken nozzle on the sprinkler so there is not enough pressure to pop the sprinkler.
When water pressure is low, a valve’s manual bleed may have been carelessly left open, causing pressure to seep out. Once closed, the problem will correct itself. Also, loss of pressure may also be caused by a loose solenoid. If the solenoid doesn’t stay on tight, the valve will stay open.
Debris, such as rocks or twigs, can also clog the solenoid or the valve, keeping the valve open. Rocks in particular can become lodged between the valve diaphragm and the seat, and will have to be removed, and the surrounding area cleaned out.
Defective timers, seemingly with a mind of their own, can wreak havoc on customers’ plants and turf by keeping zones on at all times, even when they’re supposed to be off. When you discover a timer behaving erratically, check to make sure that there is power going to the solenoid when the system is shut down.
Again, leave troubleshooting to a trained irrigation professional and always be careful when inspecting your sprinkler irrigation system. Again, thank you for visiting the Hessenauer Sprinkler Repair and Irrigation blog and website. If you are in the Central Florida or Orlando area with a sprinkler irrigation issues to discuss, contact us at 407-302-2227 today!