Drip Tubing Basics and Drip Irrigation System Basics

What is Drip Tubing?

Tubing for Drip Irrigation Systems

Drip Tubing

Drip tubing is used in the delivery of water directly to the roots of plants. Specifically, drip tubing is made from polyethylene and has emitters that are placed at intervals along the tube that correspond with the placement of each plant. This ensures that water is delivered directly to each plant’s root zone. Irrigating in this manner is not only very precise and efficient, but it also conserves water because of the low flow-rate that is required.

In arid locations, drip irrigation is an essential method of maximizing water usage and has been a standard for centuries. There is even evidence that ancient civilizations used clay pots that were buried in the ground as a primitive method of drip irrigation. The pots would be buried near plants and filled with water. Over time, water would slowly seep from the pots and into the soil. In this manner, each plant received a constant and direct source of water.

What Does Drip Tubing Do?

Drip irrigation, via the use of quality polyethylene drip tubing, is both an economical and efficient way to irrigate most forms of plant life. Due to the fact that this method of irrigation has an efficiency rate of over 90%, this is especially true in areas where water is scarce. Because of the low flow-rate and direct application to the roots of the plant, using drip tubing for irrigation also reduces evaporation and runoff.

Drip Irrigation System

Drip System

Drip irrigation is scalable and can be used for both commercial and residential applications. Drip irrigation also limits disease because the tubing is delivering water directly to the root zone of a plant. By minimizing water contact on the stems, leaves and fruit of a plant, waterborne disease is virtually eliminated. Using drip tubing for irrigation also keeps the rows between plants dry. This allows for easier access to the plant and reduces weed growth. Other benefits include less leaching of nutrients and water under the root zone and increased success over rough terrain.

When Should You Use Drip Tubing?

Drip tubing for irrigation purposes can provide benefits to nearly any type of agricultural endeavor. If you are a homeowner, drip irrigation provides an efficient way to water a multitude of different plant life from perennials in a landscaped flower garden to a backyard garden filled with fruits and vegetables. Drip irrigation is especially useful in situations where water usage may be limited or in locations where water is scarce.

Because of its flexibility, drip tubing can also be used for irrigating irregularly shaped or narrow areas. Drip tubing can be shaped to the contours of the rows of plants or landscaped areas.

Drip irrigation is also very useful during times of drought. In many cases, because of its efficiency, it may not be subject to water restrictions that are imposed during these times. Using drip tubing for irrigation is also considered a very “green” irrigation solution and as such it is an excellent way to conserve and even recycle water.

The Nuts and Bolts of Drip Tubing and Drip Irrigation

Now that you’ve decided to embark on a journey that involves drip irrigation, it’s a good idea to take some time to learn a bit about what you’ll need in order to develop your drip irrigation system.

What Sizes of Polyethylene Drip Tubing Are Available?

If you are a homeowner who is developing your own drip irrigation system, it is important to understand the differences in the sizes of drip tubing. It’s especially easy to become confused about the differences in 1/2-inch drip tubing, and this can lead to problems with buying the correct size of fittings.

Drip tubing and polyethylene tubing both come in various styles and sizes ranging from 1/8-inch to 1.5-inches or even larger. There are differences between the OD (Outside Diameter) and ID (Inside Diameter). These differences are shown with this list of the most common sizes of drip tubing.

Polyethylene Tubing:
1/8-inch – .125″ ID x .187″ OD
1/4-inch – .170″ ID x .250″ OD
3/8-inch – .375″ ID x .500″ OD

1/2-inch polyethylene tubing is available in three different configurations:

1/2-inch – .520″ ID x .620″ OD
1/2-inch – .600″ ID x .700″ OD
1/2-inch – .615″ ID x .710″ OD

3/4-inch – .820″ ID x .940″ OD
1-inch – 1.060″ ID x 1.200″ OD

Drip Tubing:
1/4-inch – (5mm) with .170″ ID x .240″ OD

1/2-inch drip tubing is available in two different configurations:

1/2″ – .550″ ID x .640″ OD
1/2″ – .570″ ID x .670″ OD

Remember, with 1/2″-inch tubing that you need to have the and ID and OD that corresponds correctly with the size of fittings that you will use. If these sizes do not match precisely, there can be a wide variety of problems like leaks, blow-outs or stripped threads on fittings.

Drip tubing is normally sold in lengths of 100, 500 or 1,000 feet. It is black in color and has a high resistance to sunlight. In normal sunlight situations, drip tubing will last for about 30-years.

Emitter Tubing

Emitter Tubing

What Types of Drip Tubing are Available?

There are several different types of drip tubing that are available for a drip irrigation system.

Emitter tubing – For most drip irrigation systems, emitter tubing is the standard. This tubing allows for spot placement of water. In the case of factory-made emitter tubing, emitters are placed at even distances along the length of the tube. This type of tubing is a perfect choice for rows of evenly spaced plants. In custom systems designed for a landscaped area, emitters are manually placed along the tube to correspond with the placement of various plants.

1/4" Distribution Tubing

1/4" Distribution Tubing

1/2-inch distribution tubing – This tubing is generally connected to the main water supply and brings the water to the 1/4-inch distribution tubing, soaker tubing or emitter tubing.

1/4-inch distribution tubing – This tubing connects the 1/2-inch tubing to various types of emitters such as misters, emitters and sprinklers.

Soaker hoses or tubing – These types of emitters are porous hoses that can be connected directly to an outside faucet, rain barrel or garden hose. This type of hose can be laid around your different plants and water will seep from the walls of the hose and into the ground around it. The difference between soaker hose and drip line is that the delivery of water is much less accurate. You could compare a soaker hose to sweating because the water comes out along the entire length of the hose.

Soaker tape or drip tape
– This emitter is similar to a soaker hose. It is made of either porous material or has hundreds of tiny holes along its entire length. The main difference is that drip tape is much thinner and in many cases will only last for one season. This tape can be used above or below ground and is very good for delivering water to wider areas that might need it. One example is within an area that has dense foliage.

Micro tubing is another useful component for irrigation systems. This type of tubing generally comes in 1/8” and 1/4” sizes and it can be used as the main and sub lateral tubing for a drip irrigation system. It is also used to connect emitters. Micro tubing can generally handle up to 15 gph.

How Do I Determine What Type of Drip Tubing to Use?

A simple answer to this question is that it will vary depending on what your needs are. If the intended use of the drip irrigation system is for rows of crops in a garden or trees in an orchard, factory-made tubing with its evenly spaced emitters is the perfect choice. If, however, you are designing a system for a landscaped yard that has plants at various intervals throughout the entire yard, emitter tubing that requires manual placement of emitters is the correct choice.

If you decide to landscape your yard in a different manner each year, soaker tubing may be a good choice since it is something that requires annual replacement. The size of your irrigation zones will also factor into this equation. One of the most important things you should do is draw out a plan then use string to determine the proper lengths of the tubing you’ll need.

Above Ground Control Zone Kit

Above Ground Control Valve Control Zone Kit

What Components Are Used in a Drip Irrigation System?

In a nutshell, there are several essential components in a drip irrigation system. Each system will require a main waterline, control valves, pressure reducer, backflow prevention, pressure regulator, filter, various tubingadapters and fittings, air vents, drip tubing, emitters, filters and an end cap or flush valve.

Main Water Line – This is the beginning of a system. In the case of a landscaped area around a residence, the main line is usually alongside the house and extends from the foundation or outside wall of the home. A main water line can also be run underground to a central point within your irrigation layout.

In-Ground Control Zone Kit

In-Ground Control Valve Control Zone Kit

Control Valve – This component controls the flow of the water from the main water line or throughout the various areas of the irrigation system. Control valves may be operated manually or, with a bit more expense, may be automatic. Depending on the type of system that is installed, there may be one or more control valves.

Pressure Reducer or Regulator – Since many systems operate with maximum efficiency at lower water pressures, a pressure regulator may be required to help lower the water pressure coming from the main water line outside of a home.

Pressure Vacuum Breaker

Backflow Preventer

Backflow Prevention – Emitters sit directly on top of soil or beneath soil. If water that has been emitted into the soil seeps back into the drip line and up to the main line, it may very well contaminate your entire water supply. In order to prevent water contamination in your main water supply, it is of the utmost importance that your drip irrigation system has a backflow suppressor.

Filters – A filter with a 150-mesh or 200-mesh screen will help prevent the buildup of different minerals and particulates in the emitters. Filters will also protect the valves on your drip irrigation system.

Drip Tubing or Dripline – This is the tubing that has emitters installed on it. If you are using factory-preinstalled emitters, this tubing will have the emitters placed at the same intervals along the length of the tubing. Manually installed emitters can be placed at varying intervals.

Drip Irrigation Fittings and Adapters

Fittings & Adapters

If your irrigation needs are focused on plants that are spaced at regular intervals, dripline is an easy choice. This type of drip tubing comes in multiple lengths from 50-feet to 1,000-feet. In most cases driplines can be found that have emitters placed at 6-inch, 9-inch, 12-inch, 18-inch, 24-inch, 36-inch or 48-inch intervals. In some cases, depending upon the type of application, driplines may come with even larger intervals.

Air Vent – In order to keep air out of the emitters during the times that the system is shut down, an air vent should be installed at the drip tube’s highest point.

Drip Tube Fittings and Adapters
– This equipment includes tees, couplings, adapters and ells. These are the components that are used to connect the drip tubes to each other and to control valves or the main waterline. It is important to note that the fittings should be the correct size for the tubing you use. In many cases, using the incorrect size fittings will result in a blowout.

End Caps and Flush Valves – In order to keep the water from just flowing out of the end of the drip tubing, it is necessary to have a flush valve or end cap. A flush valve is simply a valve that is placed at the end of the drip tubing. It is kept in the off position until the tubing needs to be flushed (generally once per year). An end cap is exactly what it sounds like: a cap that is screwed onto the end of the drip tubing.

Drip Irrigation Emitters


Emitters – Within the list of equipment needed for a drip irrigation system, we’ve saved emitters for last. Emitters are one of the most important components of the drip irrigation system. Emitters are basically small plastic valves that are installed along the length of the drip tube. The sole purpose of an emitter is to keep a continuous and uniform flow of water near the root zone of the plant.

There are two primary categories of emitters: pressure compensating emitters and turbulent flow emitters. Pressure compensating emitters are used in situations where there is a disparity in elevation of greater than five-feet. Turbulent flow emitters, also known as tortuous-path emitters, are used when the irrigation area is level.

Keep in mind that all emitters provide some type of pressure compensation. However, a pressure compensation emitter, by definition, will keep the water’s flow-rate constant regardless of the water pressure. For instance, a pressure compensation emitter should keep water flowing at the same rate whether it is at a pressure of 1.0 bar (15 PSI) or 3.0 bars (45 PSI).

Strictly speaking, the main benefit of using a pressure-compensating emitter is that if you have an area that is hilly (with an elevation of over 5-feet) then pressure-compensating emitters will maintain the water’s flow-rate throughout the system. One thing to always be aware of is that, as a general rule, pressure-compensating emitters should not be used when your water pressure is very low.

As you can imagine, the flow-rate of a pre-installed emitter is one of the most important parts of the drip irrigation equation. Emitter flow-rates vary quite a lot, however, the most common flow-rates that are used for home irrigation systems are as follows:

2.0 liters per hour (1/2 gallon per hour)
4.0 liters per hour (1 gallon per hour)
8.0 liters per hour (2 gallons per hour)

When selecting the type of emitter, one item to be mindful of is the type of soil you have. The purpose of drip irrigation is to supply water directly to the root zone of a plant. In order to do this, the water needs to be absorbed by the soil immediately or it will evaporate or there will be run-off. If your flow-rate is too high, you’ll end up with excess water around the plant that either runs off or evaporates. Specifically, the higher the density of your soil, the slower your flow-rate needs to be. Soil that is high in clay, for instance, is very dense and tightly packed and absorption is very slow. From a practical standpoint, if you have loose, sandy soil, you should consider emitters that have higher flow-rates because the absorption rate will be much faster.

Rules of the Rows

When constructing your drip irrigation system, there area few things to consider. You might consider these to be the rules of the rows. The first thing to consider is the length of your mainlines and lateral lines.

Regardless of anything else you might learn about drip irrigation, the number one rule you have to consider is that the laws of physics always apply. This becomes incredibly important when considering the length of your mainlines and lateral lines. As a rule, the overall length of both cannot exceed 120 meters (400 feet).

Typical sizes for mainline and lateral lines can vary, but the following guidelines are relatively standard across all drip irrigation systems.

| Flow Range in GPM | Mainline Pipe Size | Lateral Line Size |
| 0-3 | 1/2” | 1/2” |
| 3-6 | 3/4” | 1/2” |
| 6-10 | 1” | 3/4” |
| 10-20 | 1 1/4” | 1” |
| 20-30 | 1 1/2” | 1 1/4” |

Drip tube length is another consideration to factor into the overall design of the irrigation system. The overall length of the drip tube cannot be more than 60 meters (200 feet) from the water’s point of entry to the end of each tube.

When designing a system, the designer needs to take several things into consideration. Total coverage area, types of plants to be irrigated and type of soil are the major requirements have been determined you can select the proper hardware to ensure proper flow-rates.

How to Install a Basic Drip Irrigation or Sprinkler System

Drip Irrigation SystemInstallation of a basic drip irrigation or micro sprinkler system is relatively simple. The first step is to design your layout based on what you’ll be using the system for. Once you’ve acquired the proper equipment, you can begin assembling the system. What follows assumes that you have the correct tools and equipment and are familiar with it.

Step 1 – Attach the vacuum breaker to the pressure regulator. This will keep water from backwashing into your home water supply.

Step 2 – Connect your filter to the pressure regulator then attach the hose swivel to the opening on the side of the filter. Connect everything to your hose bib.

Step 3 – Lay your tubing out according to your design. Be sure that emitters are positioned so that they are close to the root zone of each plant.

Step 4 – Place ground stakes at intervals along your drip tubing to secure it into place. The hook at the top of the stake should fit over your drip tube.

Step 5
– Once all of your tubing has been laid out, install the correct sized pipe fittings and make sure to tighten them then attach an end clamp, end cap or flush valve at the end of your line.

Step 6 – Test the system. If you see problems within your system, this will be the time to fix them. Following are some simple troubleshooting techniques that can be used to fix a drip irrigation system.

Obviously, this is a very basic installation, but the same principles apply to larger jobs. Specifically, though, it’s a matter of careful planning and attention to detail.

Troubleshooting Your Drip Tubing Irrigation System

Q. No water is coming from an emitter, what should I do?
A. Clean the emitter or replace it depending on how clogged it is.

Q. The tubing or emitter has blown off, what’s wrong with my system?
A. Tube or emitter blow off is caused by too much pressure in the system. The easiest remedy is to add a pressure regulator to the line that is causing the problems.

Q. There are leaks between my fittings or between pieces of tubing. How do I fix this?
A. First, check the connections and ensure that they are tight. If you’re dealing with a small leak in the pipe, you can use a dresser coupling to fix the leak. For larger leaks, you may need to cut out the damaged section of the line, insert an additional length of drip line and use fittings to seal the connections.

Drip irrigation is a tried and true method for maximizing the efficiency of delivering water to your plants. Once you’ve planned, installed and used your drip irrigation system, you’ll be on your way to more effective and cost-saving irrigation.

Where to Buy Drip Irrigation Parts and Supplies

For more information about drip irrigation system repair, troubleshooting drip irrigation systems,  drip irrigation controllers, drip irrigation pipe or emitters, or to purchase new drip irrigation parts or supplies, go to www.SprinklerWarehouse.com.

How to Program a Sprinkler System Controller / Timer

All too often, homeowners invest in topnotch sprinkler systems and timers – but never quite learn how to use them effectively. As a result, wasted water and other issues can abound. One of the primary benefits of using a Programming an Irrigation Controller / Timerfirst-rate sprinkler system controller is being able to create a watering schedule that keeps your plants and lawn looking great, without wasting exorbitant amounts of water. In this day and age, water conservation is a legitimate concern; besides, over-watering plants is a surefire way to damage them. If you’d like to enjoy the convenience of a sprinkler system, while maintaining an efficient watering schedule, the following information is sure to help.

The Basics

Before delving into the intricacies of programming a sprinkler system timer, it helps to familiarize yourself with the basics about how these devices work. Whether you’ve owned your timer for a while, or if you’ve just purchased one, it never hurts to learn everything from the beginning. That way, you create a sound foundation from which to base the rest of your sprinkler system programming. Learning the basic components and working your way up to more involved issues is also a smart way to keep confusion at bay.

So, you own a sprinkler system controller. That’s a great first step, but there’s still plenty to learn. We’ll begin by learning about the basic terms and features that are associated with modern sprinkler system timers.

Important Terminology to Know

Valve – This is probably the simplest thing to learn. Simply put, a valve is the part of the sprinkler system that receives signals from the timer. Those signals prompt the valve to open, letting water flow. A sprinkler system timer works by telling these valves when to open and operate. It is important to familiarize yourself with where each valve is on your property and to map out the types of plants and foliage that exist around each one. For best results, you should actually put pen to paper and draw a map that outlines where each valve in your sprinkler system is located.

Station – On the controller itself, the term “station” refers to the valves that are being controlled. In most situations, one station will correspond to one valve; however, for very large properties a station could control two or more valves in a given zone. Since most properties have one valve per zone you can think of the station on a time as the same thing as a zone or valve in a certain area of their property. When programming a sprinkler system timer, you are usually going to have to specify which stations to activate. This is convenient, of course, since certain stations require more watering than others – and some require a lot less.

Zone – While the region that gets watered is typically referred to as the “station” on a timer, most landscaping guides will refer to the actual area that’s receiving the water as the “zone.” For example, a flower bed might be considered one zone; a large expanse of lawn might be another. When mapping out your yard and pinpointing its valves, then, it is smart to break things up into zones. This will simplify the process of programming your timer, since you’ll have a clear visual idea about the zones that each valve waters.

– Most timers have three programs available, and they are typically named program A, program B and program C. These programs hold the actual settings that control when and how long each station is watered. You might set program A, for instance, to water only the flowerbed areas and have them watered twice a day. Program B might be used to water only the lawn areas two or three days a week. Program C could be used to water plants or shrubs with a drip system, if you have one, a couple of times per week.

Typical Timer/Controller Features

The next step in programming a sprinkler system timer is learning all about its basic features. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the following terms before attempting to program your sprinkler system timer. Don’t forget to refer to the manual that was included with your sprinkler system controller to make sure that there aren’t any unusual features involved.

Start Time – The start time feature on a sprinkler system controller allows you to specify a time of day for a Program (A, B, or C) to start. Once it starts, it will begin irrigating the stations or zones that are associated with it. Once it works its way through all the stations or zones that are associated with the Program, the controller stops watering.

Run Time – This is sometimes called “Station Duration.” It is the time, in minutes, that a valve will remain opened. If you set a run time for fifteen minutes, then, the valve that it controls will remain open and water a zone for that length of time.

Run – When “run” is enabled, your scheduled programs will run as planned. As long as you have everything programmed to your liking, then, you’re usually going to want to have “run” enabled.

Off/Stop – If you need to prevent your programs from running, you’re going to want to toggle over to “off” or “stop.” There are many different reasons that you might want to do this; for instance, you may want to stop programs while you are programming your sprinkler system timer. Many people keep their systems on “off” during the winter months, too.

Semi-Auto – From time to time, a zone may require a supplemental watering. In that case, the semi-auto function is very convenient. This function allows you to run a specific program – A, B or C – whenever you want. For example, if your area has been having unusually dry or hot weather, you may want to use supplemental waterings to keep everything healthy.

– This button lets you run a specific valve for whatever length of time you want. Also, on controllers that do not have a Semi-Auto button, this is used to manually turn on a zone or run a program (depending on the model controller) to water an area of the property if it looks a little dry. It is used to temporarily water the property at will without reprogramming the controller. It can also be used to spot-check an irrigation system while performing repairs or during a Spring Check Up (looking for broken heads, misaligned heads, or other problems) of the sprinkler system.

Getting Started

Before you begin programming your sprinkler system timer and set up various programs for different zones, you’re going to need to make sure that your controller is set up properly. The most important part of doing that is ensuring that the current day and time are correct and accurate. Nothing can throw a kink in the works quite like having the incorrect day, date and time set on your timer, so take care to be as accurate as possible. It’s never a bad idea to periodically check your controller to ensure that it’s still set to the right time, too.

Entering a Program

Now that you have the right day and time configured, it’s time to enter a program.

1. Select the Program (A, B, or C) you want to program. For each program, you will need to set up the Water Schedule or “Days To Water”, Start Time, and Station Run Times.Programming an Irrigation Controller / Timer

2. Select the “schedule” function (Days To Water). Use it to select the specific days that you want the irrigation to run. An Example would be Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. In some cases, you’ll need to specify the number of days between waterings.

3. Select “start time” and specify the time that you’d like the irrigation to begin. An example would be 5:45 am. If you have newly planted flowers, you may want to water a second time in the same day since the root zone may get dry by late afternoon. If you want to schedule a second start time at say 4:00 pm. Just remember that the second start time is for the Program you are setting up so all the zones you are watering on this Program will be watered a second time.

4. Select the “run time” or related function. Select the station of your choice and enter the run time for that valve. Continue selecting stations and entering run times until you have entered a run time for all the stations you will be watering on this Program.

Important: do not set a run time for the stations that will not be watered using this Program.

A general rule to follow if you have no idea how many minutes to water per station, you can start with the following times and either increase the time if you see you are not getting enough water or decrease the time if you see you are applying too much water:

3 – 10 minutes for spray head zones

20 – 40 minutes for rotor head zones

5. Program setup is complete once you have entered in the Water Schedule or “Days To Water”, Start Time, and Station Run Times.

6. To set up additional programs select a Program (A, B, or C) other than the one you just set up using the steps above. Repeat the steps listed above for each Program you want to run. You will want to set the Station Run Times to zero for the stations you already have running on another Program (A,B, or C). Only add Station Run Times for the stations you want to water using the Program you are setting up.
Please note that different sprinkler system timers have different controls and features. Some use dials, while others are 100% digital. Make sure to read through the specific instructions that have been outlined by the manufacturer.

What’s the Deal with the Seasonal Adjust Button?

Some late-model sprinkler system timers have seasonal adjust buttons. These buttons offer a convenient solution to unseasonal weather patterns by allowing you to make across-the-board adjustments to watering programs on a percentage-based basis. During the summer, for example, most people keep their seasonal adjust buttons set at 100% for 80-degree days. When the temperature shoots up to 90 degrees, the seasonal adjust button can be switched to 120%. In turn, run times will be lengthened by 20%. This saves you from the tedious hassle of having to reprogram everything – only to switch it all back a few days later. If your system has this feature, be sure to learn it and put it to good use when needed.

Understand What Different Sprinkler Heads Do

Different sprinkler heads are suitable for different purposes. When you understand what each type is best-suited for, you’ll be able to program your sprinkler system timer more efficiently.

Sprinkler System Spray Head

Spray Head

Spray Heads – These sprinkler heads dispense high volumes of water in short periods of time. They are best suited for flat, even areas; do not use them on slopes. They are also suitable for small,

hard-to-reach areas of lawn,and they are practical to use in areas where you’d like to avoid spraying a house, cars or the street.

Sprinkler System Rotor Head

Rotor Head

Rotor Heads – When you need to water large expanses – especially of grass – rotor heads are the best option. They have a much lower application rate than spray headsdo. Rotors are used to save labor on installation since they cover a larger area than spray heads so you can space them out much further apart. They are also a better choice for sloped areas or for areas that are made up of clay soils since they apply water at a slower rate than spray heads and thus help prevent water run off.

Irrigation Drip System

Drip System

Drip Systems – A drip system consists of a series of tubes that have small holes in them. These holes dispense small amounts of water to specific areas. This helps promote water conservation. Drip systems are best suited for flowerbeds, shrubs and groups of cacti since individual root systems can be targeted with ease.

Putting a Sprinkler System Timer to Efficient Use

You may know the basics about entering programs and setting up a sprinkler system controller, but that doesn’t mean that you know how to use one efficiently. The following tips, tricks and advice can help you make the most out of your sprinkler system timer.

Group Programs for Maximum Efficiency – Once you’ve mapped out the locations of all of the valves in your yard, you’ll be able to devise a sensible programming scheme. You should use one program to handle the needs of your lawn; it should control all of the valves that irrigate areas that consist primarily of grass. Another program should be used to irrigate sections of flowerbeds or ground cover. Another program should be used for drip systems.
Invest in an Automatic Rain Shut-Off Device – Some sprinkler systems come with automatic rain shut-off sensors included. If yours doesn’t, be sure to invest in one right away. These handy devices can be

Sprinkler System Rain Sensor

Rain Sensor

programmed to turn off your regularly scheduled programs whenever a specific amount of rain has fallen. Most people set these devices to kick in whenever a half an inch or more of rain has fallen. After all, it hardly makes sense to water your property when plenty of rain has recently fallen. This is a great way to avoid wasting valuable water and to reduce your water bill.

Water Early in the Morning – While you have full control over the times of day that each program runs, it is almost always best to perform irrigations during the early morning hours. During the middle of the day, the wind can carry off water droplets or the blazing sun can evaporate a lot of the water that is produced by your sprinkler system; in turn, the plants that its intended for don’t receive nearly as much of it. Wind can also significantly disrupt the spray pattern of the sprinklers causing wet and dry spots.

If you water during the early morning, you’ll be able to use a lot less water, which is another smart way to reduce your water bills and help the environment. Furthermore, watering at night promotes plant disease and fungus growth.

Avoid Over-Watering Your LawnAvoid Over-Watering – If you think that it’s impossible to over-water plants, think again. Over-watering can be just as detrimental to plants as under-watering. By programming your sprinkler system controller the right way, you can provide the exact right amount of moisture for the various plants on your property without inadvertently over-watering them. The key thing to avoid is creating water run-off; if you see it happening, you know that you’re overdoing it.

Get the Most Out of Your Sprinkler System Timer

As you can see, programming a sprinkler system controller doesn’t have to be a mind-boggling experience. By learning about the way that your system is set up, familiarizing yourself with its valves, learning about the different types of sprinkler heads that are involved and understanding the needs of different types of plants, you can achieve a suitable and sensible irrigation schedule with a minimal amount of hassle.

Where to Buy a Controller / Timer

For more information about irrigation system repair, troubleshooting irrigation systems,  irrigation controllers, options and features, or to purchase a new irrigation controller or sprinkler timer, go to www.SprinklerWarehouse.com.

What is an Irrigation Master Valve?

Irrigation System Supplies Guide

When consider installing irrigation system, you might want to consider a master valve. A master valve is an electric valve installed at the supply point which controls water flow into the main piping system. When this valve is closed water will not be supplied to the irrigation system.

A master valve will greatly reduce any water loss due to a leaky station valve because the leaky station valve can only leak while the master valve is providing pressure to the system. Also, if you damage the irrigation main line, a master valve will control water loss so the main can be repaired without shutting off the water supply.

A master electric valve is typically the same type of valve as you would use for your station valves, but rather than being installed downstream from your main line and connected to a station output in your controller it is installed upstream at the front of the main line and connected to the “master” or “pump” connection in your controller. Not all controllers support a mater valve or pump- be sure to check the features before buying a controller.
Visit Sprinklerwarehouse.com to buy valves

How to Install a Sprinkler Timer

Irrigation Instructions on How To Install A Sprinkler System, Irrigation System Supplies
Tools Needed to Install Irrigation Controller / Timers

1. 3/8″ electric drill, cordless or with cord
2. Masonry bit, if drilling holes in stucco.
3. Metal center punch. If drilling into wood, the punch isn’t necessary.
4. Wood type drill bit – to drill holes through the timer cabinet
5. Black sharpie or felt-tipped marker
6. A hammer
7. A level
8. Screws, with matching plastic wall anchors
9. Screwdriver

How to Install, Wire, and Set Up a New Irrigation Controller

  1. Decide on the location for the sprinkler controller. Consider factors such as power supply, whether the sprinkler timer is an indoor or outdoor model, whether it will plug into an outlet or needs to be hard wired. Also consider convenience of operation, and ease of access for the user.
  2. Unpack the timer. Some hardware and supporting documents will be included for the installation.
  3. Remove the clock/timer face from the controller. The face should snap out easily. Look for clips or plastic tabs along the front or sides of the unit. Also detach the ribbon connector. If desired, remove the cabinet door by taking out the steel pin connecting the door to the main cabinet.
  4. For extra stability, drill extra mounting holes through the back of the cabinet. Irrigation controllers usually come with pre-drilled holes or mounting hardware in the back, so this step is optional.
  5. If hard wiring the timer, cut electric power. Turn off the breaker to the wires. Double check the wires to be sure the electricity is off, by using a volt-meter or ticker. The volt-meter gives off an alarm if it detects electricity in a line. An active electrical current can cause injury to the user, or throw off sparks that can damage the irrigation controller.
  6. Mount the cabinet at a comfortable height, usually about eye level. Place the cabinet against the wall, and use the level to check that it is even. Use the felt tipped pen to mark the wall through the holes in the back of the cabinet.
  7. If drilling into stucco, use the metal center punch. Line the punch up to the marks on the wall, and give it a firm whack with the hammer to make a small indentation in each mark. This keeps the stucco drill bit centered and stable. Drill holes into the wall at the marks.
  8. Put the plastic inserts into holes. Tap them flush against the wall with the hammer.
  9. Using screws, mount the timer cabinet to the wall. Connect the station wires. Make notes of which wires are responsible for each zone or valve of the sprinkler system, to avoid guesswork in the future.
  10. Re-mount the timer face and re-attach the ribbon connector to the board. Do not turn on the power until these steps are complete. Replace the cabinet door. The controller is now ready for programming and operation.

Wiring the Controller to the Valves

  1. Purchase sprinkler or irrigation wire. Buy one strand more than the number of zones desired. Usually, the white wire is the common wire, and the others will lead to individual sprinkler valves.
  2. Turn off the power to the controller. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when attaching wires. Look for a terminal on the controller that says “C”. Attach the white or common wire.
  3. Run a wire from the solenoid on each zone valve back to the controller. If the valves are underground, the wire will run alongside the PVC pipe leading to the valve. Be sure the connections are waterproof. Water leakage will damage the solenoid.
  4. Each wire will regulate a different zone from a station on the controller terminal. Delegate the stations as desired and attach the individual wires. Make a written plan or diagram of the setup, to avoid confusion in the future. One can also mark the wires as Zone 1, Zone 2, and so on.
  5. Do not turn on the power until wiring is complete.

How to Replace an Existing Irrigation Controller:

If you already have a controller that is giving you problems and find that you need to replace it with a new one, let me reassure you that it is very easy to replace a controller and most any homeowner or irrigation repair person can handle this task. First, if possible, it makes your job easier if you can write down all of your existing programming from the old controller. Specifically, you want to write down the specific days scheduled for watering, the start times and how long each zone is scheduled to be watered. You will need to use this information to program the new controller. If the old controller is completely dead and you can not get this information, no worries, as you can program the new controller to water a few days a week and the rotor zones for 20 minutes and the spray head zones for 5 to 8 minutes each time they come on. A good start time is 4:00 or 5:00 am so that all the watering is completed before you need to start using water in the house in the morning. Then you can adjust these settings later as you find that the yard is getting watered too much or not enough.

Make sure to unplug your transformer from the wall, if you have an indoor system, or turn off the power to the timer at the breaker box, if you have an outdoor system. Use that volt-meter to verify the power is not reaching the controller. The next step is to label each of the control valve (hot) wires on the old timer. Label them according to the zone they are connected to, zone 1, zone 2, zone 3, etc.  Also label the common wire connected to the common connection and the pump start wire if you are using a pump. Now you are ready to disconnect the wires.

If possible, buy the same model and brand as the controller that was already in the system. If you can not buy the same model, that’s ok, just get one that has the correct number of stations or zones that you had on your old timer and make sure you get all the features you want. Now is a good time to upgrade to a better more feature rich timer. Take the old controller out and mount the new one on the wall. Reconnect your wires as they are labeled and reprogram your controller with your watering schedule. Turn the controller on and make sure all zones are working properly.

I told you, replacing a controller is very easy as long as you label the wires before removing them from the old timer.

Differences in installing an indoor controller and an outdoor controller

Sprinkler system controllers come in interior or exterior models. Indoor sprinkler system timers plug easily into an electric outlet. The interior models have a power supply or transformer that converts 110/120 volts of standard house power to the 18-24 volts required for sprinkler system operation. Exterior sprinkler system controllers are housed in sealed weather-resistant cabinets. The exterior controller has a transformer inside the cabinet, and must be hard wired into the power supply.

Indoor irrigation controllers can also be installed outside. Weather-resistant cabinets are available separately, to convert indoor controllers to outdoor use.

How to install a controller when a pump is also going to be used

  1. A pump brings water from a well, pond or nearby water source to the sprinkler system. When using a pump instead of a municipal water supply line, choose a sprinkler timer that will work best with the pump.
  2. Electric sprinkler system controllers can turn the pump on and off at pre-programmed times. Most irrigation controllers have a pump circuit built in. The timer uses a voltage relay to start and stop the pump. The relay allows the controller, which operates on 18-24 volts, to communicate with the pump, which uses standard house voltage (110/120v).
  3. Do not connect the irrigation controller to an existing relay. If the pump already has a starter circuit with relay, the user will need to install a new one for the controller.
  4. To hook up the pump, connect the wires from the pump start switch to the pump start terminal(s) on the controller. Some irrigation controllers feature zone-by-zone programming for more effective pump operation.
  5. Use a flow switch with the sprinkler timer relay. The flow switch turns off the pump if there is no water flow, preventing the pump from overheating in case of a system malfunction or water supply interruption.
  6. A delay feature is helpful when installing an irrigation controller with pump. The delay allows slow-closing valves to shut down completely in one zone, before the next zone starts operating.
  7. Check with local authorities to be sure of bylaws and water codes. Some areas have regulations regarding the operation of pumps and lawn sprinkler systems.

Items to Consider Adding to The Controller

  • Extra Stations
    Many lawn sprinkler system timers can be adapted to add extra stations, in case of expansion or amendments to the lawn sprinkler system.
  • Remote Control
    Remote control allows the user to operate indoor or outdoor sprinkler system controllers from a distance. If the system doesn’t come with a remote, the user can add a remote control transmitter & receiver to most lawn sprinkler system controllers. The remote control comes in handy if the user wants to do work or maintenance on the sprinkler system, or operate the controller from a remote location. It makes spring check ups and maintenance much easier. You can turn zones on and off without walking back and forth to the timer.
  • Computer Control
    The user can control the sprinkler timer and features from a computer.
  • Weather Devices
    Some irrigation controllers have built-in rain sensors. If not, adding a rain sensor or other weather device to the controller is a practical option for most home and property owners. Weather devices also sense outdoor temperature to guard against freezing. A solar power converter is a handy add-on feature available in some sprinkler system controllers.
  • Mounting Pedestal
    Instead of mounting the sprinkler timer to the wall, the user has the option of mounting the controller on a stand-alone pedestal. Some irrigation controller pedestals include a separate wiring board.
  • Rain shut off devices or other weather devices
    Rain sensors and rain shut-off devices automatically adjust the system’s function when rain is detected. Some sprinkler system controllers feature seasonal adjustment options. Other weather devices include wind sensors, which shut down the system in case of high winds, or temperature-sensitive features to regulate the function of the lawn sprinkler system.

Where to Buy a Controller / Timer

For more information about irrigation system repair, troubleshooting irrigation systems,  irrigation controllers, options and features, or to purchase a new irrigation controller or sprinkler timer, go to www.SprinklerWarehouse.com.

How to Choose an Irrigation Controller

Sprinkler System Guide

Irrigation controllers are essential components of a Irrigation Sprinkler System.When DIY sprinkler system, the following article can help you better understand how to choose, install and replace a controller / timer.

What is an Irrigation Controller?

Hunter Pro-C Timer

Hunter Pro-C Timer

Irrigation controllers, also known as irrigation timers or lawn sprinkler system timers, are the nerve centers or brains of the sprinkler system. Sprinkler system timers send electric signals to the irrigation valves. The valves regulate the flow of water to the sprinkler system.

Irrigation Sprinkler System timers are the devices that allow you to set a watering schedule to meet your needs. You can set the days you want to water, the time of day you want the sprinklers to come on, and how long you want them to apply water.

Sprinkler system controllers may be mechanical, partly automatic, or fully automatic. Although irrigation sprinkler system timers are largely maintenance-free, the home or property owner might wish to upgrade and replace irrigation controllers or install irrigation controller parts or extra features. Sprinkler timer installation or replacement is very straightforward and easy and can be done by either the homeowner or by an irrigation professional.

How to Choose an Irrigation Controller / Timer

The only important decisions you need to make when selecting a controller / timer are as follows:

  1. Controller mounting location: indoor or outdoor
  2. Number of stations or zones – must be at least as many zones or areas your sprinkler system is broken up into.
  3. Number of programs (1, 2, 3, or 4) – should have at least 2 or more programs to give you the watering flexibility you want or need. The programs on a controller are very different from the number of stations on a controller. This is explained below.

IMPORTANT: The rest of the features you can choose from on a controller are just for added benefits or increased flexibility.

Indoor vs. Outdoor models
Sprinkler system controllers come in a wide range of makes and models. Choose lawn sprinkler system timers depending on the size of the sprinkler system and the user’s needs. Lawn sprinkler system timers come in two different types: indoor models and outdoor models. Indoor sprinkler system timers need to be sheltered from weather, and can be conveniently plugged directly into a 110-volt outlet. This is because they come with an external transformer as part of the plug-in cord that converts the 110-volts to 18 volts. Typical locations for mounting indoor timers are in the garage, building, covered patio, shed, pump house, closet, etc. Outdoor lawn sprinkler system timers are convenient, weather resistant, durable, and typically need to be hard wired for power instead of plugged into a 110-volt outlet. This is because the transformer is located inside the protective weather resistant cabinet and it is assumed that the electrical connection will need to be weather resistant also.

Outdoor controllers can be used as indoor controllers just by adding a pig tail (3 prong plug and power cord) to the power wires of the timer. People do this all the time to be able to get all the benefits of an outdoor timer with a weather resistant cabinet and typically all kinds of added features. An example of this is the Hunter ICC model controller which is one of Hunter’s best controllers. It has so many nice features that people will just add a pig-tail and make it an indoor timer.

Controller Stations
Typically, residential systems use irrigation controllers with 2 to 9 stations, while systems for commercial or public properties can have 32 – 48 stations or more. Each station regulates one zone or area of the lawn sprinkler system. When selecting irrigation controllers, know how many stations the system needs. Choose a sprinkler timer with extra stations, in case of later expansion.

Controller Programs
The number of programs a controller or timer typically has can range from 1 up to as many as 4. They are usually labeled as Program A, B, C, and D. Some controllers only have 1 program while most have at least 2 or more. A program is a set of watering instructions for stations that will run on the same days. When you set up Program A on the controller, you are setting the days you want to water, the time of day you want to start watering, and how long you want to water. If you have a controller with two programs, the lawn areas can be set up to be watered every day on one program and the flowerbeds and shrubs every other day on the second program. When a controller starts a program, it will go through the entire program before stopping or repeating the program.

Types of Controllers – Mechanical or Solid-State (Digital)

Some irrigation controllers are fully digital, including easy touch screen features. Digital sprinkler system controllers with basic features are suited to a more conservative budget. Other lawn sprinkler system controllers have an array of features and options for convenience and ease of operation.

Mechanical sprinkler system timers use manually-operated sliders and switches for programming. An electromechanical controller uses both an electric clock and mechanical switching. That is to say, they are made of a motor, wheels, dials, gears, and pins. These controllers are typically, easy to understand how to operate and program, and are less susceptible to power spikes and surges, but are much more limited in features than solid-state digital irrigation controllers.

Solid-State controllers have digital readout screen, have no moving parts, and use integrated circuits for the clock, memory and control features. These controllers are adaptable, offering many more features at a reasonable cost. More advanced Solid-State controllers such as Smart Controllers can adjust the watering schedule automatically throughout the year. Still other controllers operate solely on battery power, for areas with limited or no electricity. Solar-powered controllers are also available.

Features Available on a Controller

Some controllers come fully loaded with features for efficiency and convenience of operation. In others, extra features may be optional. Key features available on a controller can include:

  • Clock and calendar settings
    The user can program watering times, control watering cycles, and make seasonal adjustments.
  • Manual start and manual station operation
    The user can operate the stations or start the automatic cycle without affecting the programmed start time. This is helpful when you need to do some maintenance to your system. This feature makes it easier to check for leaks, misaligned or broken sprinkler heads and even perform basic tune-ups steps such as adjust spray patters and replace nozzles.
  • Master Switch
    The master switch overrides the automatic functions of the stations.
  • Master Valve Control
    The master valve prevents flow to the system, in case of water problems or system failure.
  • Station Omission
    The user chooses which stations operate, and which do not.
  • Pump Start Lead
    This turns on a pump start relay whenever a station activates, to combine irrigation and pump control. A Pump Start Relay is an electronic device that uses a signal current from the irrigation controller to activate a pump to provide water to the irrigation system. Never connect the controller directly to a pump as damage to the controller will result.
  • Rain Sensor
    A rain sensor shuts down the irrigation system if it detects rain. The purpose of a rain sensor is to stop watering when precipitation is sufficient. Most controllers allow for a sensor to be connected directly to the controller and allow you to easily override the sensor by using a Rain Sensor Bypass switch on the controller.
  • Battery backup
    The controller reverts to battery power in case of power interruption or outage.The battery typically will just allow the timer to maintain the time, date, and watering schedule. On some controllers it allows the user to program the controller without AC power. IMPORTANT: watering will not occur without AC power. The battery only keeps the time, date, and watering schedule in memory until the AC power is restored or the battery dies.
  • Non-Volatile Memory
    The controller retains its program data without a battery, even if the power fails.  The non-volatile memory allows the timer to maintain the time, date, and watering schedule indefinitely. IMPORTANT: watering will not occur without AC power.
  • Delay
    The delay feature allows time for valves to close fully in one zone, before opening the valves in another zone.

Where to Buy a Controller / Timer

For more information about irrigation controllers, options and features, or to purchase a new irrigation controller or sprinkler timer, go to www.SprinklerWarehouse.com.
If you need more irrigation help, questions about irrigation system repair, or how to install a spinkler system, please visit IrrigationRepair.com

Parts of an Irrigation Valve

All The Parts of an Irrigation / Lawn Sprinkler Valve

Irrigation System Repair

Hunter 33-2100 - Valve Diaphragm Assembly for Hunter PGV 1

Hunter Diaphragm

Valve is an essential part of the irrigation sprinkler system. The main components of sprinkler valves are the diaphram, solenoid, springs, and various gaskets or O-rings. The solenoid, an electric cylinder, is a crucial part of an automatic valve. The solenoid receives electric message from the sprinkler system controller, and in turn controls the movement of the diaphram. Manual irrigation valves don’t require a solenoid.

The diaphram is the rubber plug inside the valve, responsible for opening or shutting off the flow of water. Behind the diaphragm is a wire spring. Some irrigation valves have a jar-top lid; in others, the lid may be held in place with screws. Many valve designs feature a bleed screw, which can be tightened or loosened to manually control the flow of water to the valve.

Rain Bird 208588-01 Solenoid - Replacement Solenoid for all DV, DVF, ASVF, JTV Series Valves

Rain Bird Solenoid

If one of the lawn sprinkler valves needs repair, it;s usually not necessary to replace the entire valve. The valve can be disassembled, and the components separately replaced. Major manufactures of sprinkler valves also make replacements parts, and it’s often easier to replace the parts than to cut the entire valve from the pipe.
If you need more irrigation help, please visit IrrigationRepair.com
If you want to buy parts to DIY srpinkler system, please visit SprinklerWarehouse.com

Types of Irrigation Valves

Irrigation / Lawn Sprinkler System Valves – What Are They

Irrigation Sprinkler System Guide
Irrigation valves or lawn sprinkler valves are an essential component of lawn sprinkler systems. They control the flow of water in lawn sprinkler systems. Sprinkler system valves come in a variety of models, including below ground inline valves and above ground anti-siphon valves.

Available in solid brass or durable plastic, sprinkler valves operate from a manifold above or below ground to regulate water flow to the lawn sprinklers.

Anti-Spihon Valve vs. Inline Valve

Shop for Anti-Spihon Valve or Inline Valves

Lawn sprinkler systems may be manual or automatic. Automatic lawn sprinkler systems consist of the controller / timer, the sprinkler valves, the pipes, and the lawn sprinklers. Each valve controls a different zone, or area, of the lawn sprinkler system. The controller sends electric low voltage (24 volt AC) signals to the valves, telling them to open or close.

Sprinkler valves come in many different styles. Globe or angle irrigation valves work with a separate backflow preventer, and anti-siphon valves have the backflow preventer built-in. Rain Bird valves, Toro valves, Hunter valves, Irritrol valves and Weathermatic valves are all reliable, well-known products that, with proper maintenance, will last for many years.

Irrigation Valves – Types of Valves and What They Are Used For Shut-off Valves

Emergency shut-off valves stop the flow of water to the irrigation system. If repairs are needed to the sprinkler system valves or any other part of the irrigation system, the shut-off valve prevents the need to turn off the entire water system to the house or what ever else the water feeds.

Emergency shut off valve: You should install this sprinkler system valve as close to the water source as possible and should be the same size as the pipe you are installing it on. If you do not install this valve, you will have to shut the water off to the entire house when you want to make repairs or work on the irrigation line. You only need to install one of these shut off valves for your irrigation system and it will either be installed under ground in a valve box or in the basement depending on where your water supply connection is located.

If you are using a water meter from the city as your source of water, it is best to tee off the pipe coming out of the water meter (the one headed to feed the house) as close to the meter as possible and use the tee to start the water supply to the sprinkler system. In this case, you would install the shut off valve close to the tee on the line headed to feed the sprinkler system. Some people will put the tee close to the meter but then install the shut off valve just before the backflow device which may be installed on the side of the house. If you are in an area that freezes and you will be using the basement water supply piping as your sprinkler system water supply, install the shut off valve in the basement on the piping before the backflow device.

The most popular valves used for this purpose are the gate valve, ball valve, disc valve or butterfly valve. The gate valves are the most inexpensive and tend to NOT Close completely plus they are typically metal and corrode quickly making it difficult if not impossible to use. Your best bet is to use a PVC ball valve (highly recommended) since they are a more reliable choice. They close completely and they do not corrode or rust which means you should always be able to open and close them easily even when buried under ground in a valve box.

Control Valves (as known as Zone Valves)

Irrigation control valves are used to turn the irrigation system on and off and there are two different types to choose from:
1.) Globe and Angle Valves
2.) Anti-Siphon Valves

The globe and angle valves come in any size and are usually installed under the ground or in a vault or valve box. Since there is not a backflow preventer attached as part of the valve, you will need to add that separately. This is the most common type used in sprinkler systems. However, you may choose to use the anti-siphon valve, which comes only in 3/4- and 1-inch sizes and comes complete with a backflow preventer. The anti-siphon valve absolutely must be installed above the ground and must also be 6 inches higher than that of the highest sprinkler head.

Valves come in brass and plastic; the most common ones used today are the plastic ones. The brass valves will ultimately last longer if installed in the sunlight. Both types are reliable for an automatic system, but for manual systems the manual brass valve is the best choice because it lasts much longer. Valves today are fairly maintenance free.

As for pressure losses and valve size, the automatic valves should be sized based on the manufacturer’s flow range chart and will not necessarily be the same size as the pipe. However, it is more common that it will be the same size as the pipe it is installed on. A manual valve is much more adaptable than the automatic and you do not have to depend on electricity to power it, rather it is done manually, hence the name. A manual irrigation control valve needs to be either an angle or globe type with replaceable rubber seals and not the gate type as the gate valve is not made to be opened and closed regularly.

Above Ground Anti-Siphon Valves

Anti-siphon valves have a built-in backflow preventer to keep irrigation water from washing back into the household’s main water supply. Use Anti-Siphon valves in locations where the use of a pressure vacuum breaker (PVB) or double check valve is not required by city codes. Some areas of the country, such as in California and Arizona, require backflow prevention for every zone. Check your local city codes to determine what type of valves are required. The Anti-Siphon valve is a combination valve that has an atmospheric vacuum breaker and an electronic control valve all in one unit. It provides backflow prevention on every zone, saving costs by eliminating the need for a separate backflow preventer. Anti-Siphon valves are installed above ground and will prevent back flow if properly installed. Anti-Siphon valves should always be installed at least 6” above the highest head on the valve line, and should never have another valve installed further down the line from the main valve

Below Ground Inline Valves

These valves are often globe valves or angle valves. Inline valves are installed underground, protected by a valve box. Below ground inline valves require a separate backflow preventer, installed to meet local bylaws and regulations. However, the great thing about inline valves is that they are typically less expensive than anti-siphon valves and you can install them in the middle of each zone (or section) of your sprinkler system which keeps the pressure loss in the zone more balanced and uniform. Furthermore, you save money on pipe since you end up with one mainline traveling through your yard supplying all you valves instead of having multiple runs of pipe in the same trench heading from the anti-siphon valve manifold to each zone. Plus you only need one backflow preventer device protecting the whole sprinkler system instead of paying for one on each anti-siphon valve. Using a single backflow device with inline valves is a better way of installing your system and it will last longer than the anti-siphon valve plastic backflow device which relies on gravity and has no other parts to assure it functions properly. One other important note: anti-siphon valve back flow vales can not be tested to see if the backflow prevention is functioning, however, backflow devices purchased separately to be used with inline valves can be tested to assure they are functioning correctly. Using inline valves is a more professional way of installing your sprinkler system.

Globe Valves

Globe valves once had a spherical body, but modern globe valves have changed in shape, and only the name remains. Water flows through the valve without changing direction. The two halves of the valve body are separated by an internal baffle. A movable plug, or disc, screws in to shut off the valve. In manual globe valves, the plug connects to a stem which operates by hand wheel. In automatic globe valves, the stem is smooth.

Angle Valves

Named for their angular design, angle valves direct the flow of water at a right angle to the valve. Water flows into the valve, then changes direction 90%.

The Valve Manifold

The manifold is a group of control valves attached to a pipe. Water enters the manifold from the main water supply line. The water is then routed through the control valves. The valve manifold may be below or above ground.

To build the valve manifold, use a length of PVC pipe. Space the valves about three to six inches apart. The number of valves determines the overall length of the manifold pipe. Include an extra connection or two, for possible expansion to the system later. Save time and work by purchasing a ready-to-install manifold kit, which includes the sprinkler valves and all necessary parts and instructions. Many manifold kits have a flow control feature, to help conserve water.

Valve Boxes

A valve box is a plastic cover that protects the valves and wiring from damage and debris. Above ground, the valve box also protects the valves and manifold piping from harsh sunlight and inclement weather, or damage by accident, animals or vandalism.

Backflow Prevention Devices

Backflow prevention devices will prevent irrigation water from lawn sprinkler systems from backing up into the drinking water. Irrigation water may contain contaminants such as pesticides and other chemicals, as well as waste products and dirt. While these elements don’t harm the lawn, they create health risks in public or household drinking water.

Repair or Replace an Irrigation Valve?

Hunter HPV Series 1" Valve

Hunter HPV Series 1" Valve

How To Repair Sprinkler System if something goes wrong? Here I am going to tell you a trick on irrigation system repair.

When you have a faulty solenoid, It is better to buy the valve and take the top off the new valve and replace the old valve top. Plus a new valve is cheaper than if you buy the parts separately. This way you will end up with a new diaphragm, solenoid, and internal filters. You will have a new valve since the bottom body piece is only a PVC base and does not go bad. The trick is you must use the exact model valve as the old valve. If you can not find the same valve (if yours is so old that we do not have it online) then we suggest you replace the entire valve. I hope this little irrigation help helps! Please visit SprinklerWarehouse.com for your parts and replacements!

How to Install a Sprinkler System?

You want to know how to DIY Irrigation System? How to install a Sprinkler system on your own?
A well designed, properly installed lawn sprinkler system makes it easy to water your home landscape and adds value to your property. On the other hand, a poorly designed, improperly installed system is inefficient, wastes water, can damage brick, siding, and fencing, and can be a maintenance nightmare. Here are some of the things you need to know to do it right.

First and foremost, the system needs to be designed properly:
For a DIY sprinkler system project, it is very important to start with a good design. It is nearly impossible to get good results if the system isn’t designed right from the beginning. You need to know how much water pressure and flow you have available. There is no rule of thumb. If you have a large water meter and a small property, you may be able to divide your property up into three or four zones and have adequate flow and pressure to make the system work. On the other hand, with a large lot and a small well, you might need 15 or 20 zones.

If you are on a well, do your “Home Work”
As there can be issues with the pump cycling on and off, water quality, etc. Zones that are sized too small or large can damage your pump. You may also need a sand separator or filter installed to prevent valves and sprinkler heads from becoming fouled. Visit www.IrrigationRepair.com for detailed info on using pumps with your irrigation / lawn sprinkler system.

If you are on a city water meter, first check your local codes about the use of a backflow device to protect the drinking water.
Most cities require some type of backflow prevention device and the requirements vary. Many areas allow a double check valve assembly (DCA), which in some places may be installed below ground in a box, while others will only allow a pressure vacuum breaker (PVB), which must be installed above ground and protected from freezing. Other areas only allow a reduced pressure principle device (RPZ), which also must be installed above ground. In some cases, atmospheric vacuum breakers (AVB) may be used, but these must be installed on each zone after the valve, with no additional valves downstream and may not be subject to continuous pressure. If the proper backflow prevention device is not used, there is a risk of contamination to the public drinking water supply. In

some cases you will be required to get a permit, have your system inspected, and have the backflow device tested for proper operation. Many cities and some states also now require that a rain sensor be installed on new systems. This device shuts the system off automatically when it rains.

A rain shut off device will pay for itself very quickly in saved water.

Next, you need to know the static water pressure in your water main.
You can measure this by connecting a pressure gauge to a hose adapter and attaching it to a hose bib on the outside of your house. Make sure no water is being used inside the house and then turn on the faucet. The gauge will read the current pressure inside the city water main. You might want to take several readings as the pressure can vary throughout the day. In many cities the pressure varies throughout the city depending on the time of day and the demand for water.

Spray Heads and Rotor Heads:
The design pressure is the pressure required at the sprinkler nozzle for it to perform properly.
Spray heads work best at about 25-30 psi, while rotors work better at 40-50 psi. It is important that there be sufficient flow and pressure to the nozzles so that they provide proper coverage. Otherwise there will be dry spots in the lawn. It is also important to match the precipitation rates of the nozzles. Most spray heads already have matched precipitation rates for the various nozzles within a manufacturer’s product line, but with rotors, it is important that the proper nozzles be selected.

(Each rotor you buy from  www.SprinklerWarehouse.com will come with a full set of standard nozzles). If you use the same size nozzle for different rotors that are watering a quarter circle, a half circle, and a full circle, then some areas will be overwatered, while others under watered. The full circle rotor is covering four times the area of the quarter circle, so it needs to have a nozzle that is putting out four times as much water. It is also important to group plants that have similar watering requirements together in a zone and water them at the same time.

To get the proper size zone, one must know the flow capacity of the meter.
For example, a typical one inch meter can provide a flow of about 25 gallons per minute with a pressure loss of 4.0 psi. Take the static pressure and allow some safety margin (many recommend 10%). So for a static pressure of 50 psi, you might consider a working pressure of 45 psi, then calculate the friction loss through the supply line from the city water main (usually a copper line), the meter itself, the backflow prevention device, the pipelines, the valves, pressure regulators (if used), and finally arrive at the design pressure. If there is not sufficient pressure, then a person might need to make the zones smaller or increase the flow and pressure by having a larger meter installed. Needless to say, there are a lot of factors to consider when designing a system. This issue is important so let’s go into it with a little more detail to help you out.

You will need to base your design on the gallon per minute (gpm) flow and the pressure you have available. The available flow will dictate the max gpm size of your zones our sections, and the available pressure will dictate the size of pipe and the types of sprinkler heads you will be able to use (sprays or rotors).

There are 3 rules you must follow when determining your flow and working
1. Do not go beyond 75% of the maximum safe capacity for the water meter.
2. Do not exceed 10% of the static water pressure as a pressure drop through the water meter.
3. Do not go beyond velocities of 5 to 6 feet per second in the service line which feeds the water meter from the city main.

To calculate the exact maximum flow through your water meter you should refer to Chapter 10 in the book Simplified Irrigation Design or you can determine available pressure and flow from the flowing link at www.SprinklerWarehouse.com’s Sprinkler School

There are entire books written on the subject of hydraulics and proper design. Even if you decide you want to install your system yourself, consider reading one of the books offered at www.SprinklerWarehouse.com Book Store

Buy the best parts you can afford.

Do not skimp. Professional grade materials last longer and require less maintenance. Especially do not buy the cheap do-it-yourself sprinkler timers they sell at the big box stores. You will be using your controller regularly, so buy a sturdy, easy-to-program controller like the pros use. You won’t regret it.www.SprinklerWarehouse.com sells nothing but professional grade sprinkler parts and supplies. We ship extremely fast and we offer you the lowest prices on the web…. We want you business and we plan to earn it!

Call to get the utilities located and marked.
With a proper design in hand and several boxes full of parts, you are now ready to install. But wait, first call to get the utilities located. In most states, you must call before you dig. In many areas you can call 8-1-1 and have most of the utilities located free of charge. You must usually call at least two working days before you can commence digging. Gas, water, and sewer lines are usually not located past your property line, so you may need to locate these yourself. Be careful, although breaking a water line can be a big nuisance, cutting a gas line with a shovel or trencher can be deadly. Also, avoid placing pipelines near trees. Not only will tree roots cause problems in the future, cutting a trench too close to a tree can cause the tree to eventually die.

Let us assume that you are using PVC pipe. The shorter pipe lines can be hand dug with a trenching shovel. For longer lines, you might need to rent a trencher. Be sure to follow the instructions to the letter. Think of a trencher like a large chainsaw that cuts through the earth. Stay clear of the moving teeth, as they can cause serious bodily injury.

We recommend trenching by hand placing the sod (grass) on one side of the trench and the dirt on the other so when it comes time to bury the trench you will be able to put all the dirt back and then puzzle piece the grass back and make it hard to notice you trenched the yard. See our section on trenching at the following link IrrigationRepaire – How to Dig Treches

In some areas, the pipe is installed deep enough that it won’t freeze. This is primarily done in southern states. In northern states, the pipe is generally installed with blow out connections so that the air can be removed before winter sets in. In any case, place the pipe at the depth recommended for your area.

When cementing pipe, be sure to cut the pipe square and clean off any burrs. Be sure to use primer on the fittings and then apply the cement while the primer is still wet. Purple primer is used by many contractors because of its visibility and is required in some areas. When connecting pipes together, be sure to measure carefully and make square connections. Pipe joints that are in a bind will eventually fail.

Valves should be installed in a large enough box that they can be easily maintained. Some folks like to see how many valves they can fit in one box. This is a bad idea. Valves will eventually need to be repaired or even cut out and replaced, so leave room to work. If you are using spray heads and have lots of pressure, it is a good idea to install a fixed rate pressure regulator downstream of the zone valve to cut the pressure down. Spray heads typically mist and waste water at pressures higher than 30 psi. If you do this, make sure the regulator is properly sized for the flow delivered, and make sure there are no other valves downstream.

Sprinkler Wiring:
Unless prohibited by local code, you can place the sprinkler cable in the same trench as the pipelines. Wherever the cable comes up out of the ground to go into the house or up to the controller, be sure to place it in a conduit to protect from damage by the weed whacker. For most residential applications, 18 gauge multi-stranded cable is the right product to use. For larger properties, though, a bigger gauge might be needed. Do not use smaller gauge doorbell wire. It is not designed to be buried and will eventually give you trouble. Be sure to use waterproof splices that are filled with silicone where you make your connections to the valves. Other types of splices will fail. In most installations, you will use the white wire as the common. The common wire connects to all valves via one of the two wires leading to each valve. You will need to connect the other valve wire to its own individually color coded wire. At the other end of the cable, you will generally connect the white wire to the common terminal screw and the proper colored wire to each station. If you are using a rain or freeze sensor, you may need to make some changes. Consult your controller and sensor manuals for best results.

Installing Sprinkler Heads:
When you install a sprinkler head, it is best to install it on a flexible swing joint. This way you can place the head at grade. Some people like to use cutoff nipples. These are cheap and easy to use, but when the pipe eventually sinks, it pulls the head down with it. Then the head is below grade. When the nozzle retracts, it sucks in dirt and debris and eventually the nozzle clogs. The other possibility is dirt getting stuck in the seal. Then the head gets stuck in the up position and eventually run over by the lawn mower. Just use a swing joint, install the head at the proper grade, and avoid this problem.

Also when installing heads, place them several inches away from the house, fence, and sidewalk. This makes it easier to avoid overspray. Heads placed against the sidewalk will be damaged by an edger.

Backfilling the Trenches:
When backfilling the trenches, pile the dirt up gently on top of the trench, but don’t tromp it down just yet. Carefully distribute the soil and then you can “water pack” the ditches. Take a piece of pipe and attach to a garden hose. Turn the water on low and poke the pipe down into the bottom of the ditch. Watch as the soil begins to sink down into the ditch. When you start to see water appear, move on to the next spot. Don’t apply so much that the ditch starts to get muddy or water flows out of the ditch. You just want to apply enough that the soil starts to settle in the ditch. Once you have settled what you can without making a mess, put on a pair of rubber boots and “walk the ditches”, being careful not to sink in! If you put too much water on, you might get stuck. Once you have completed this step, you can rake a bit more dirt onto the ditches. If you do this right, you won’t have settling problems later.

Nozzle up the Sprinkler Heads:
Before putting nozzles on the heads, turn on each station to flush any dirt out of the lines. Once you have flushed the lines and are certain each valve is operating properly, install the correct nozzles. Double check to make sure heads are straight and installed at the proper grade. Adjust the arc and throw to make sure only the grass and landscape is being watered. Change nozzle sizes where necessary to avoid watering the house, the fence, or the street. Once your system is complete, call for the system to be inspected, if applicable.

Finally, measure the precipitation rate of each zone and water each zone according to its needs. Remember that the needs of the plants will change throughout the seasons. You can calculate the precipitation rate for each zone by measuring the flow rate through the meter in gallons per minute. Take this number, divide by the square feet in this zone and multiply by 96.3. This will give you the average precipitation rate for this zone in inches per hour.

After your system is installed, maintain it regularly. You can have a beautiful landscape and save water with a well-designed system that is properly installed, operated, and maintained.

Again, I hope this is of some value. As always, please help preserve ourwater resources, and irrigate responsibly. If you need any irrigation help, please leave a comments or visit IrrigationRepair.com

What are the Best Sprinkler Heads? Who Manufactures the BEST?

When you design your own DIY irrigation system, you probably want to know which brand of irrigation system supplies is the better one to buy. Both Hunter and Rain Bird make very good rotors and spray heads.

If you go with Hunter, make sure you use the Pros series or the Institutional series sprays for areas under 15 feet radius, and as far as their rotor models You can not go wrong with the PGP series, or I-20 series rotors.

If you go with Rain Bird, make sure you use 1800 series sprays for smaller areas (less than 15 feet radius) and as far as their rotor models You can not go wrong with the Rain Bird 5000 series or the 5000 Plus Series Rotors.

Please visit IrrigationRepair.com to learn more about irrigation sprinkler system.