Sprinkler System Inspection Checklist

Sprinkler System Inspection Checklist

Regular sprinkler maintenance saves water and keeps your irrigation system running smoothly

By Sylvia Cochran

Sprinkler in grass
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Seeing homeowners irrigate their lawns by hand is rare; most commonly an automatic sprinkler system handles the day-to-day watering of the lawn areas, flower beds and other landscape features. A sprinkler system inspection checklist ensures that watering takes place on schedule and that the homeowner curtails water wasting. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that each day Americans use approximately 1-1/2 billion gallons of water to irrigate landscapes.

Visually Inspect Spray Patterns

Professional landscape irrigation system installers configure a sprinkler system to meet the needs of the lawn areas and flower beds that are in existence at the time of the initial installation. Over the course of one or more growth seasons, and perhaps also some landscaping changes, the spray patterns may no longer suit the needs of the plants, while the sprinkler heads may be ineffective. For example, a well-tended lawn consisting of Bermuda grass needs a pop-up sprinkler set to a height of about 3 to 4 inches. Switching the lawn grass to fescue changes the requirement to a range of 4 to 6 inches. Ground cover of medium height needs a 12-inch pop-up sprinkler to affect the ideal spray pattern.

Search for Broken Components

Encroaching tree roots and harsh winter temperatures may lead to pipe leaks and breaks. Landscaping tasks, such as mowing, edging and tilling, potentially damage sprinkler heads. Thatch buildup in the lawn also can clog sprinkler heads. Visually inspect each sprinkler head and ensure that it is properly connected and operates according to manufacturer specifications. Change out heads that appear damaged.

Troubleshoot Problem Areas in the Landscape

Brown spots in an automatically irrigated lawn may point to insufficient water pressure. As a general rule of thumb, a pop-up sprinkler requires pressure of 25 to 30 pounds per square inch (PSI) to properly spray water, while a rotating sprinkler needs 30 to 50 PSI. Excess pressure sends the water spray too far from the sprinkler head, which in turn results in brown spots within the landscape. Insufficient pressure limits the radius of the water spray and the areas farther away from the sprinkler heads are brown.

Verify Timer Settings

Daylight savings time, changes of the seasons and also changes in plantings require an adjustment of an automatic sprinkler system timer. Utah's Division of Water Resources discovered that Salt Lake City residents who relied on automatic sprinkler systems tended to over-water lawns by about 44 percent. Including the timer in the sprinkler system inspection checklist ensures water conservation before the water is ever turned on.

About the Author

Sylvia Cochran is a regular contributor to DexKnows, specializing in home and garden.

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