8 Most Common Sprinkler Problems and How to Diagnose Them

Most people don’t give their sprinklers enough credit. These unsung heroes are the primary reason your lawn stays in optimal condition all year long. But all too often, people miss the signs that their sprinkler system is performing poorly, or in some cases, is flat-out broken.

We want to help you keep your lawn in the best shape possible. We’re an irrigation installation and sprinkler repair company with tons of experience. That’s why we’ve made this list of some of the most common issues that occur in sprinklers and some tips on how you can diagnose them.

A Faulty Sprinkler Controller

The controller is the most important component in your sprinkler system. It performs all of the below functions:

  • It activates and deactivates the system at the appropriate times
  • It controls how evenly and effectively the system covers your space
  • It’s responsible for allocating the correct amount of water
  • It activates all the necessary mechanisms for consistent operations

With that in mind, it’s pretty clear why you should keep an eye on the component when taking care of your lawn. But can you tell when it’s on its last legs? Consistency, or lack thereof, is your biggest clue. If you notice that your system isn’t activating at the appropriate times, is remaining active for too long or not long enough, or isn’t capable of operating in automatic mode, then there is a chance you have a faulty controller, or some other electrical issue.

Water is Leaking From One or Multiple Zones At Once

Leaks are the death knell for any piece of hardware that manages water. This fact is especially true for sprinkler systems since leaving leaks unchecked can cost you a lot of money by running up your water bill. So how can you recognize a leak before it becomes costly?

Keeping an eye on your sprinkler’s different zones is key. Sprinkler valves control water flow to each zone with a diaphragm seal that is activated by the magnetic solenoid that changes the internal vacuum pressure. Doing so, opens and closes the diaphragm allowing water to flow, or not. If you notice water constantly leaking from one zone, or multiple, it could be a defective valve diaphragm, blockage inside the valve itself, or improper design/install that is affecting the valve from fully sealing.

Pump Buzzing

Pump buzzing is another fatal defect. It’s indicative of a problem with your sprinkler’s relay system, which is a magnetic switch that activates the system. An audible, static-like buzzing noise will give this issue away. And since a faulty relay will result in an inactive sprinkler head, you should call us as soon as you hear the buzzing begin.

Pop Up Failure

This defect can come in many forms. All of them have the same impact, however: One, or all, of your sprinkler heads will function sub-optimally or not at all.

But what defines this issue? A relay could be damaged, your controller could be performing sub-optimally, or there could be a mechanical failure occurring within a given head’s pop-up mechanism. Unfortunately, this is an issue with so many potential culprits that attempting a diagnosis yourself isn’t worth your time.

And this is especially true when considering how many of the potential culprits can be resolved with a DIY fix. As such, this is another scenario where you should call our irrigation service as soon as you see the problem occur.

Incorrect and Ineffective Head Height

Ineffective head height is something not many people even register as an issue. It’s only after they notice that parts of their lawn aren’t receiving proper coverage that they realize something is amiss. As a general tip, if your lawn’s health seems inconsistent, head height is one of the first things you should check.

A sprinkler head that is too high will result in water missing appropriate areas entirely and is at risk from lawn maintenance damage, i.e. mowing. Conversely, a head that is too low will cause areas nearest to the sprinkler head to receive too much water, which has its own set of problems.

Poor Water Pressure

Poor water pressure is one of the major factors behind poor lawn coverage. Fixing it is simple, more often than not: poor water pressure typically comes from blockage, faulty hardware, broken pipes, and backend issues. It could also be a result from a poorly designed system for the current operating pressure. Thankfully, it’s also one of the most typical causes of poor coverage.

Skipping Irrigation Zones

This issue normally arises with pump-fed systems. In these scenarios, suction leaks will occur within your pump’s lining, which will prevent a steady flow of water from being fed to an appropriate zone. If a patch of your lawn is in significantly worse shape than those adjacent to it, faulty distribution zones are a likely culprit.

If you do not have a pump, then there are a couple of common culprits to look out for. The most common issues typically will be located at the valve, such as a shorted solenoid, bad wiring connections, or the valve itself. You cannot rule out a faulty controller as well due to a shorted-out motherboard, or bad module.

Clogged Sprinkler Heads

Lastly, clogged sprinkler heads are an extremely common issue. If your head isn’t rising or water isn’t flowing consistently, this defect may be the cause.

Lawn and landcare is an irrigation service that is ready to go to work for you. We specialize in irrigation installation, sprinkler repair, and a suite of other types of irrigation services as well. Call us or contact us at your earliest convenience to get started on repairing your sprinkler system.

Lawn & Landcare

About Us

Lawn & Landcare was founded in 2002 and specializes in commercial and residential landscape construction and maintenance throughout the North Dallas area.

Lawn & Landcare was founded to bring a new level service to its customers through superior work with highly skilled labor. Our customer service, expert staff, and attention to detail have made us the leader in North Dallas

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