Turning on the Water to your Sprinkler System

Turning Sprinklers Back on After Winter

For many, spring is the best time of the year. When else do we get to see flowers blossom and fresh grass grow? As spring approaches, it’s time to start thinking about lawn care. It may seem like forever since you winterized your sprinklers, but it’s almost time to turn them on once again. Take a look at this guide so you can open your irrigation system properly and start the season off right.

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When’s the Best Time to Turn on Sprinklers?

Spring Start-ups are completed in April and May each year. During the start-up service, water is turned on to the sprinkler system, the controller is reset if needed and sprinkler heads are adjusted to assure proper coverage. If we find any broken sprinkler heads or other sprinkler parts that need to be repaired or replaced, we’ll bring it to the homeowner’s attention and get approval prior to making any repairs. If the repairs are covered under any warranties, we can take care of that as well.

While this process isn’t too tricky, it’s common to make a few mistakes along the way. A good rule of thumb is that you should only turn sprinklers on when any threat of freezing temperatures has passed. If the ground is too cold or pipes have frozen, damage can occur. You’ll want to turn on your system around April or May at the earliest. At the same time, you don’t want to wait until summer, because your lawn may suffer.

If you aren’t sure when to turn your sprinklers on, reach out to a professional at Nature’s Helper for assistance. Typically, we recommend turning your system on briefly after the freezing temperatures are over and then turning them back off until the end of May. At the end of May, turn your sprinkler system back on again for the season to avoid overwatering your lawn before summer.

How to Open Your Irrigation System

Once you’re ready to go, you can start to fill the pipes with water very slowly. Don’t do this too fast or you risk a surge of water blasting up through your backflow device or valves. Let the system pressurize correctly. Check each water line to ensure the water is flowing correctly. Any debris caught inside should be cleared out by now. If the system looks right, you can close the valves and place the sprinkler heads back on. 

Finally, set your timers and make sure that each zone is to your liking. Take notes of what you want to fix and then shut it down. Changes can only be made when the water is off completely. Once that’s done, your water sprinkler system is primed for another season.

Note: There may be some chattering noise as the water is flowing from the system. If water is flushing out of the cap of the backflow device, this is normal! Do not tighten the nut at the top of the device as this can break your backflow system! The backflow should seat itself within a few seconds. If the water keeps running after about 10 seconds or so, there may be debris clogging the backflow device or another issue. If that is the case, contact Nature’s Helper to take a look at the system.

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Tools needed: Flat Screwdriver

Step 1 – Go to the backflow device outside. Turn screws (A) so they are perpendicular to the fitting (up and down).

Step 2 – Turn both blue (or green) handles (B &C) so they are perpendicular to the pipe. This means the handle (B) on the left will be up and down, and the other handle (C) will be straight across the pipe.

Step 3 – (not pictured) Go downstairs/outside to where you turn on the water. Close the drain and turn the water on.

Step 4 – Go back outside to the backflow device and turn the handle (C) parallel to the pipe (up and down).  Slowly open until water comes out of bell at the top then quickly open to pressurize valve. You might hear a popping sound.

Step 5 – Turn the other handle (the one on the left)(B) slowly so it is parallel with the pipe (straight across).

Step 6 – Turn on the clock and run the system.

The picture below shows the placement of the screws and handles on a Febco 765 Regulator:

Other Backflow Regulator Models:

  • FEBCO 825Y RP
  • FEBCO 860 RP
  • WATTS® 800
  • WATTS® 009 M4QT
  • WATTS® 919

Once you have turned the water on, it’s important to run a test cycle and make sure the sprinkler heads are adjusted for coverage so you’re not watering the sidewalk or hitting the side of your house. You’ll also want to make sure all of the heads are working correctly. Otherwise, you may not realize you have a problem until brown spots appear. Need help with the adjustments or repairs

Get Ready for the Coming Months With Nature’s Helper

While this process may take an entire afternoon, it’s necessary if you want to avoid issues and prepare properly. Start as soon as the cold weather is gone for good so you can complete the ideal spring start-up for your system. If you find you’re unable to do this yourself or have questions, be sure to contact Nature’s Helper. We can address your concerns, teach you about your system and turn your sprinklers back on for you.

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