Irrigation systems are the workhorses of beautiful landscapes. From the sprawling greens of golf courses to the private retreat of residential acres, sprinkler systems deliver vital, widescale lawn and garden watering through the ease and convenience of an automated mechanical system.
Like any mechanical system, though, sprinklers require routine care and maintenance. Besides basic on-and-off settings, many wonder how to accurately assess, supervise and support the functions of their sprinkler irrigation system, much less deal with it when something looks amiss. And when serious, overall system problems arise, those questions reach a literal breaking point.
You work hard and plan throughout the year to maintain a vibrant and lush garden or landscape. Make sure your irrigation system is equally up to the task. From swapping individual parts to an entirely new sprinkler system installation, it’s important to familiarize yourself with irrigation ins and outs so your system lasts through the years.
Luckily, an out-of-date or out-of-sorts sprinkler system carries a few warning signs. Knowing the differences between a sprinkler system repair and a sprinkler system upgrade not only saves you time and money — it saves your landscaping.
Signs You May Need a Sprinkler System Upgrade
Let’s face it: Your irrigation system will inevitably age. While there’s no way to stop sprinkler wear and tear altogether, there are ways to assess and address inescapable damage to know if it’s time for a sprinkler system upgrade.
Do you know the lifecycle of your current irrigation system? How old is the system, and how many years in relation to that lifecycle does it have under its belt? Have you had to replace parts, or noticed repeated signs of distress and damage? Keeping track of these answers will help you assess the age and quality of your system alongside the need for a potential sprinkler system upgrade.
Leaks can occur in multiple spots along your irrigation system. The most common leaks in older systems take place in the mainline, the internal or external tubing that carries pressurized water from your water source to your irrigation valves.
If mainlines leak, your system will fundamentally underperform, as there won’t be enough water reaching valves and sprinkler nozzles for distribution. Likewise, leaks within sprinklers, nozzles and valves themselves won’t be as comprehensive of a replacement, but still an indication something is wrong.
Occasional maintenance and sprinkler system repair is not only to be expected — it’s a good thing! You want proper expertise and oversight across your system’s lifespan. However, repeated breaks and repairs — especially in a single season — is a telltale sign it’s time for an upgrade.
Increase in Water Bills
A sudden and sustained leap in your water bill often points to an inefficient irrigation system. This can be due to any number of complications, from a poor initial sprinkler installation to pipe leaks to a compromised base water source.
Increasing the efficiency and sustainability of your property is not merely a feel-good step — it’s a functional one, too. If you note unexpected jumps in your water bill, and those leaps sustain themselves across watering seasons, it may be prime time to look into a new sprinkler system.
Lawn Spots That Get Too Much or Too Little Water
Overwatering and underwatering are equal woes for any landscaper. With a sprinkler system controller, you can automate water distribution flows to address these concerns directly. Yet older or non-automated systems cannot adjust flows based on plant, soil or weather changes, meaning increased work for you and an increased likelihood of improper watering.
At the end of the day, the biggest reason for a sprinkler upgrade is due to an out-of-date system. Simple sprinkler repairs won’t cut it in the event of old and antiquated pipes, parts and water pressures.
Benefits of Upgrading Your Sprinkler System
An upgraded sprinkler system means so much more than the assurance it’s doing exactly what it’s programmed to do. Aside from freeing yourself from the burden of continually wondering, “Should I repair my sprinkler system?” installing a new irrigation system has broad and lasting benefits you may have never considered.
The long-term savings make the up-front cost more than worthwhile for an automatic sprinkler system. That’s because upgrading yours will protect against many of the wallet-lightening obstacles listed above.
Consider your water bill alone. A fully upgraded, contemporary irrigation system will reduce both water consumption and your water bill compared to your old watering system. Advancements in sprinkler part engineer and automation have led to modern “smart controllers” that can assess soil-moisture levels and weather and tailor sprinklings accordingly.
Upgrading your sprinkler system also means a more efficient and uniform water distribution. You can, therefore, be exact with your watering amounts, providing just the right volume at the right pressure during the right time of day. Sprinkler system upgrades cut watering times and boost energy efficiency — a winning combination you can’t achieve with faulty or old lines.
Ensures Healthy Greenery
After all, what’s the point of an irrigation system if it can’t deliver thriving, vibrant landscaping? From a hobby farm to a multi-acred backyard to the grounds of a commercial property, the quality of grass and surrounding greenery is often one of the first things people notice about a space. Make sure yours stands out for all the right reasons.
Increases Property Values
It takes fewer than 30 seconds for people to form an opinion on a property. That’s 30 seconds to make or break an impression of your home or business — an impression you’ll never get back.
If you’re a homeowner looking to increase the value of your property — and really, who isn’t? — a healthy, bright lawn and accompanying landscape will boost vital curb appeal. Healthy, irrigated lawns also reduce air conditioning costs in hot summer months, sometimes lowering temperatures up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Upgrade or Repair? How to Know the Difference for Your Irrigation System
Preventive measures and routine maintenance remain the best ways to keep your sprinkler system at peak functionality. A simple inspection of system parts goes a long way. However, if you’re unable to find the time to take thorough inventory, or would simply prefer expert eyes, many area businesses offer sprinkler system maintenance schedules you can sign up for alongside other service requests.
Note the following care procedures for your new or used sprinkler system. When assessing whether you need a completely new sprinkler installation or just sprinkler repairs, these steps can help you make the proper final call.
Replace the Valves
Sprinkler valves are built-in throughout your irrigation system and control head-to-toe water flow. Whether it’s an emergency gate valve positioned at your water source or operational solenoid valves turning on and off actual sprinkler heads, replacing valves regularly assures optimal flow control.
In particular, solenoid valves in older sprinkler units are known to jam, either remaining permanently open or unable to shut adequately. Run tests on your valves regularly to make sure they remain clear and uninhibited.
Check the Sprinklers
Smooth and uniform water distribution is the hallmark of a proper irrigation system. To do so, sprinkler heads and nozzles should be suitably propped up and evenly dispersed throughout the desired irrigation area. Also, keep an eye out for sprinklers that don’t rotate fully, or whose turning appears jerky and uneven. All this will lead to uneven water distribution and higher water bills.
Assess the Controller
New sprinkler system controllers come with an abundance of upgrades and technological affordances. Consider a smart controller to replace your conventional or manual system, then keep track of the way it monitors and adjusts your watering schedule on its own.
These latest controllers come with climate- and soil-based sensors that can read and correct irrigation for sustainability and convenience. You can program these readings to suit the plant types you’re growing, your area’s precipitation rates, adaptive watering times and even soil nutritional needs.
Complement Your Landscape
A growing, irrigated landscape means growing irrigating needs. That’s a consideration many overlook as they build and develop their sprinkler system, assuming a one-and-done installation will care for their lawns and gardens regardless of any future growth plans.
Yet certain shrubs, trees and plants will require more or less water to thrive. Likewise, as these plants themselves grow, they may expand and cover or breach the system’s original water-distribution trajectories. This coverage not only blocks water from reaching its widest arc, but can lead to unintended structural damage and blockades on the sprinklers themselves.
You may also want to consider if you need mobile or static sprinklers — or a combination of both — for your landscaping to reach its fullest potential.
Conduct Seasonal Checks
Proper sprinkler-system care is a year-round effort. Consider signing up for seasonal sprinkler-maintenance checkups with a professional lawn care service. Or add one to your installation and warranty package if you decide to forgo sprinkler system repairs to upgrade the entire thing.
Seasonal maintenance checks begin with a sprinkler startup session as consistent warm weather arrives. In areas where warm weather lasts yearlong, startup sessions occur before the heaviest watering months. A mid-season check ensures proper system operations during the hottest and dryest parts of the year — when you’re likely using your system the most. Finally, professionals will prep the winterization of your sprinkler system in advance for cold and moist winter, guaranteeing peak functionality come next season.
If Problems Still Exists, Opt for a Completely New Sprinkler System
At the end of the day, common sense is your best tool. If your system undergoes frequent and repeated damage — and maintenance bills just keep adding up — it’s time for a complete automatic sprinkler system upgrade.
Consider both the breadth and depth of the maintenance problems. The most pressing issues of sprinkler repairs are often short-term solutions to long-term damage that’s built up over the years. Take a moment to judge the expanse and variety of system issues you’ve experienced, and if sprinkler repairs are addressing root problems or merely putting on a temporary system band-aid.
If your irrigation system has experienced the following one or more times, it’s a sign of deeper concerns, such as too-high water pressure, unsuitable water velocities and overall water-code violations.
- Burst pipes. Burst pipes are a habitual sign something isn’t right between your system and its water source. While you can expect pipe wear and tear over time, older installations are notorious for leaks and expensive bursts in multiple line locations.
- Repeated broken nozzles. While nozzles are simple to swap out, frequently doing so signals a water-pressure mismatch. This issue can’t be solved through new parts attached to the externals of your sprinkler installation, but rather requires a more in-depth look into your system’s water feed, controller settings, pressure readings and water distribution.
- Mainline and post-valve leaks. Breaks on a system’s mainline before water even reaches sprinkler valves signify one thing, while leaks after the valves mean another. Apart from obvious complications in evenly distributing water, mainline and post-valve control leaks are common signs there’s more serious structural damage to your pipes — especially if repeated.
- Consistently broken solenoids. Irrigation solenoids are a critical part of your system’s pressurization and distribution abilities. Without adequately functioning solenoids or ones that have lived past their mechanical life, you inevitably have wasteful and unproductive sprinklers.
- Waterproofing wiring connections. Older irrigation systems did not have the technology to be installed like today’s waterproof wiring. Over the years, repeated interactions with water lead to inevitable external damage to the whole system — damage that can’t be patched without comprehensive wire replacement.
- Major landscaping changes. If your irrigation system serves greenery that’s undergone significant changes in the last few years, it’s likely your sprinklers won’t match the new layout and growth. At the least, this will require extending your sprinkler system — if not wholly redoing it.
Sprinkler and Lawncare Plans Made to Match Your Exact Needs
Even the most experienced green thumbs among us have questions and concerns when it comes to their irrigation systems. And it’s no wonder! Whether you have a new or well-used installation, understanding all its maintenance steps, repairs and adjustments can take keen eyes and willing hands to test and tweak consistently.
Why not partner with local experts who regard your lawn as if it was their own? With Nature’s Helper, you can expect quality and customer service that not only meets, but exceeds, your green-thumb needs. We take care of sprinkler checkups and services so you can take care of what really matters: enjoying your outdoor space, year after year.
Nature’s Helper provides personalized sprinkler and irrigation-system packages to maintain and maximize your green space. Our skilled technicians can both assess, adapt and fix problems in real time, lending you peace of mind while matching your budget. We offer:
- Spring startup assistance for automatic and manual sprinklers
- Express winterization and preparedness
- Mid-season checkups, including June, July and August
- Expert advice on irrigation products and procedures
- Insider discounts on sprinkler parts
- Estimates and quotes on any additional lawn and landscaping care
We can mix and match many services to meet your exact needs, with packages priced accordingly. Our team will work with you to answer any irrigation installation questions, plus lawn aeration, overseeding, fertilizing and so much more. Contact us today to bring about the lawn you’ve always dreamed, or request a service call today.