Springtime Sprinkler System Start-up Checklist


 

shutterstock_140861632If you have a home sprinkler system then you know it must be maintained in order to remain dependable and functional when you need it. That means taking proper precautions in the winter to prepare the system for the pending freezing temperatures and conditions. Similarly, when it comes spring time, the sprinkler system needs to be taken through a series of procedures to ensure that it is a ready to begin watering again and also to ensure that it’s ready and able to function properly throughout the upcoming season.

Depending on the part of the country where you live, you may (or may not) have to fully winterize your system each year. This checklist will take your through all the steps necessary to perform a thorough and complete startup process.

 

 SpringTime Sprinkler Start-up Checklist

 

  1. Make sure it’s safe to start: You don’t want to start your system up too early. A system that is started too early can lead to damaged pipes and or backflow preventers. Check your local weather forecast to ensure there is not going to be any more freezing temperatures or consult this chart for a regional guideline on frost.
  2. grassInspect Backflow Preventer: Locate your backflow preventer and inspect it thoroughly for damage (i.e. cracks, splits, leaks, etc.) before introducing water into the system.  Winter can be especially rough on irrigation equipment, freezing water expands and can crack pipes, valves and even backflow preventers. In the northern areas of the country, it’s a common practice to winterize sprinkler systems by “blowing out” the remaining water from the lines, using high-volume, low-pressure compressed air.
  3. Visually Inspect Sprinkler Heads: Look for damage in and around sprinkler heads throughout the system. Remove any debris, dirt, gravel or vegetation that’s collected on or around sprinkler heads. If you have rotor style sprinkler heads, it’s best to remove the nozzle from each rotor to clean out any debris which may have collected. If any nozzles are missing or damaged, be sure to replace them with an appropriate replacement part.
  4. Spring backflowCreate a flush point: Remove last sprinkler head at the end of each zone to provide an escape for any unwanted debris which have collected over past season(s) to escape freely. It will also eliminate the risk of over pressurization and water hammer effect as the air which currently fills the pipes is replaced by water.
  5. Visually and physically inspect valves: Locate the valve box(es) for your system and carefully inspect the valve assemblies for damage and/or leaks.
  6. Visually inspect the controller: Most controllers are located inside a garage or shed. Carefully inspect the controller, looking for any damage. (Replace the batteries if necessary.) Turn controller on and confirm the buttons are functioning properly and the controller is functional. Ensure that the correct time is set on the controller.
  7. valve solonoidPrepare the backflow preventer for mainline turn on: The handles on the backflow preventer should have been set to a 45-degree angle from the winterization process. Open the handles to allow for water flow by aligning the handles parallel with the pipe they are attached to. Locate the test-ports on the backflow preventer. Turn the screw located on the side of the test-port from the 45° position and turn it slightly back to the 90° (up and down) position.
  8. Locate the main water turn on: Often found in the basement or crawlspace of the structures foundation. Turn on the water slowly (take at least 30-seconds to move the handle from closed to open. Check Pressure coming through backflow preventer to the valves (should be around 45-60 psi ideally)
  9. Inspect Mainline, master valve and backflow preventer: With water in the pipes, visually inspect the system for leaks or damage not previously visible. (I.E. wet spots or puddles, misting, spraying etc.)
  10. et_modManually Open Each Valve and flush each zone: With water in the system open up each zone manually by turning the solenoid on top of the valve very slowly, once you hear water begin to flow stop turning. Allow enough time for the system to flush. Ensure that water is coming out through the flush point you created in step 4. Close the solenoid by hand. And repeat for all zones.
  11. Close all the flush points:  Replace the end-caps and/or rotors at the end of each zone.
  12. Check Controller function: Cycle through each zone one at a time using the controller to open and close the zone. Leave each zone on long enough for you to go walk around the zone and ensure the sprinklers are working properly.
  13. Adjust the watering schedule for the early spring/summer season: Reset the controller to accommodate the needs of your lawn based on the season.  If you are not sure what to set it to, consult this guide.

  14. Uncover and adjust rain sensors or other accessories:
    If you controller is equipped with a weather sensor or rain collector uncover it and ensure it’s clean and unobstructed.

Save Water Without Sacrificing a Beautiful Lawn


Save thousands of gallons of water and have the best looking lawn on your block by using these simple tricks.

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Every year I look forward to winter for one very big, very important reason…no more lawn care or yard work. I used to live in the northern states where in the winter you would trade in your lawn care tools and tasks for snow removal tools and tasks. But Now that I live in the warmer southern states I don’t have to worry about snow removal (except for a few freak incidents resulting from this year’s totally bonkers winter – but that’s another topic altogether!)

But alas, the end of winter is coming into focus and it won’t be long before we will all have to get out our lawn mowers and weed wackers. So lets review some simple ways you can save water this summer while creating the greenest most beautiful lawn on your block

Mulch

2014-02-24_10-04-28spin_prod_242147301Mulching your grass clippings and allowing them to return back to the ground instead of bagging them and discarding them will help to conserve water use. The clippings act as an insulation of sorts preventing the moisture loss. Even if your lawn mower is not designed to be a mulching mower, you can buy special blades that will help to chop the clippings more finely allowing them to fall down into the grass.

When To Water

shutterstock_71595412Knowing when to water is key. It is sometimes mistakenly thought that the best time to water is at the height of the days heat and direct sunlight exposure; possibly because it is thought that the moisture will provide a break from the intense stress of the sun and heat. However, this is just simply not true, the best times to water is the early morning and the late evening… when the sun is lower on the horizon and the winds are typically at their lowest. These conditions help the water to not evaporate uselessly.

Timer

shutterstock_172496273You lawn has needs too! Be sensitive to the needs of your lawn and give it what it wants! Far too many people think that a sprinkler system is a set it and forget it type of system. (And while we hope that it does function in a set-it-and-forget-it fashion, the timing does need some attention on a month to month basis,) As the seasons change, the amount of water required by your lawn will change as well. In northern climates where sprinkler systems are decommissioned in the winter and blown out, the watering times shown below will only apply to the months where you are watering, whereas in warmer southern states climates year round watering should follow a pattern resembling this one. The following table shows a general idea of the amount of water you need to apply to your lawn based on the time of the year.

January – 12 minutes July – 49 minutes
February – 10 minutes August – 60 minutes
March – 17 minutes September – 48 minutes
April – 40 minutes October – 43 minutes
May – 64 minutes November – 32 minutes
June – 50 minutes December – 16 minutes

Cut It High, It Won’t Be Dry –

shutterstock_122944705During the growing season of the lawn, it is best to allow the grass to stay higher. Taller grass is much more healthy and robust than a tightly shorn lawn is. Some people advocate that the first mowing of the season be a very close one, however, we recommend that you de-thatched your lawn prior to the first mowing by using a power-rake to remove last years remaining dead matter. This process along with aeration will give the lawn the best access possible to fresh air, water and sunlight. Then going forward throughout the growing season the lawn should not be mowed down really short — taller grass is healthier. This does mean that you will have to mow more often, but it will provide you with a much greener, much more beautiful and less thirsty lawn.

Water Brown Spots with a Hose 

shutterstock_1505857972014-02-24_11-19-07During the main growing season of the year, if you have a brown spot in your yard, and you have checked to ensure your sprinkler are hitting it, rather than running the system for longer time, you can water that single spot using much less water  by using a hose with sprinkler on the end. Purchase and incorporate an automatic shutoff to prevent from over watering. Simply set the sprinkler to cover the brown area of the yard and set the timer to shut it off, so you don’t forget about it.

If you find that the brown spot is not greening up after being given plenty of water, then you should probably look into other issues such as a fungus, or grubs which can cause a brown spot or dead spot inspite of receiving plenty of water. There are solutions for applying all-natural insecticides directly through the sprinkler system.

Collect Rain Water –

rainbarrel_greenshutterstock_127813637You can conserve a tremendous amount of water by using recycled rainwater to water your plants, especially if you are the type who uses a running hose to water your plants. The good news is that if your home has rain gutters already installed, then collecting rainwater may be easier than you thought! Simply allow the water to collect on it’s own in a rain barrel designed to collect and store water, whenever it rains and use that water in a watering can to water your plants.

Use a Rain Sensor With Your Sprinkler Timer—

Open-box-things-out_bundleTechnology has brought so many different area of our lives into the 21st century digital world. This is no exception for the area of sprinkler controllers. By incorporating the use of internet connections, and sensors seeing a sprinkler system running while it is raining is now a thing of the past! Get a controller which can access the weather report and adjust it’s control automatically, or install a rain sensor to shut down the system when it senses rain.

Winterization Time


Cold WinterOh Boy, here at Sprinkler Warehouse we have people running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to make sure that everyone is able to winterize their irrigation systems before the first freeze. Fortunately here in Houston we might go the entire winter not having to winterize, but do you really want to take that risk??

I will go over exactly what you will need to do in order to get your pipes and backflow devices prepared for the cold weather that may or may not lie ahead… you know with that global warming maybe we will all be sitting by the beach sipping cold drinks in January!

In Cold Climates:

Insulating your irrigation system’s backflow preventer will be the most important step to take when winterizing in a cold climate. In cold climates, occasional late and early season freezes occur and can damage your equipment. Using a small amount of self-sticking foam insulating tape – without blocking the drain outlets or the air vents – should be sufficient. Otherwise, try using some R-11 fiberglass insulation. Wrap it around the backflow preventer, then use duct tape to secure a plastic bag around the whole thing. Don’t secure it too tightly – just tight enough to keep it from blowing off.

In Moderate Climates:

Far fewer steps are required in a moderate climate where it does not freeze, or only freezes for a few hours at a time. The water supply must still be shut off and you will also need to shut down the timer or controller as well. The timer may be set to “rain mode,” especially if it is a solid state, digital display controller. Doing this can save you a great deal of time and means that you won’t have to reprogram the entire thing when spring rolls back around. Gear-driven rotor sprinklers that are above ground must be drained, or the water can freeze, expand and damage them. If the water doesn’t drain out on its own, a drain valve will need to be installed on the sprinkler supply line. Otherwise, you can remove the rotors and shake them out thoroughly; in that case, you should then store them for safekeeping until spring.

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Difference Between the Three Methods of Winterization?

The most important step of the winterization process is removing the water from the system’s pipes and sprinklers so that it doesn’t freeze, expand and burst everything. There are a few different ways of approaching the problem: using a shop vacuum to suck all of the water out (a very time-consuming and aggravating process), draining the water out via the system’s drain valves or using air to blow all of the water out (also known as a sprinkler system blow out)

  • Manual Drain Valve- This method is required if your manual drain valve is located at the lowest point. Your manual valve will either be a ball valve, stop and waste valve, or a globe valve. Make sure that after the water has drained out of the mainline you drain the water that is between the shut off valve and the backflow device. This will not remove the water from your backflow device or your sprinklers. Open the test cocks on your backflow device to enable the water to flow out. If your sprinklers have check valves make sure to raise them so that the water drains out.
  • Automatic Drain Valve Method- Drain Valves are typically located on the ends and low points of your sprinkler system. They drain the water when the PSI is below 10PSI. Activate a station to release pressure and to get the automatic drain valves going. This method saves a great deal of frustration. As with the other methods you will need to drain the water out of the backflow device and your sprinkler heads. In some instances you might have both a manual and an automatic drain valve. If this is the case you have to follow the above method for manual drain valves as well.
  • “Blow Out” Method- Extreme caution must always be taken when blowing out an irrigation system with compressed air. Compressed air can cause serious injury from flying debris. Always wear approved safety eye protection and do not stand over any irrigation components (pipes, sprinklers, and valves) during air blow out. Serious personal injury may result if you do not proceed as recommended! It is best for a qualified licensed contractor to perform this type of winterization method. For a complete step-by-step guide on how to use the “blow out” method follow this link: http://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/How-to-Winterize-in-Cold-Climates-s/7950.htm

*Sprinkler Warehouse recommends contacting a professional for any winterization tips and deals for blow outs since this is the most dangerous method if done without a professional.

Now that you know the steps to winterizing your irrigation system, it is important to take the necessary steps for your home and budget. Before I leave y’all, here is a picture that we won’t see down south but basically gets the point across as to why you should winterize everything this is in someone’s garage!

Frozen_pipes

The heart of your irrigation system: the irrigation valve.


If the controller is the brains of your system the valves are the heart. They control the flow of water through the lines. They are very simple in both principle and design.

This is an example of a typical valve. Details may vary but execution is the same.

Valves have water both above and below the diaphragm. The upper chamber pressure is greater than the lower due to the combination of spring pressure and trapped water. They also have an air space under the solenoid with a bleed hole that is opened when the solenoid plunger is retracted (zone turned on).

Opening this hole lowers the pressure above the diaphragm, the water below forces the diaphragm up and water flows through. Most valves will not open with less than 15 to 20 pounds per square inch of pressure. This is only a concern with extremely low pressure; usually on gravity feed water tanks.

Picking a good valve is simple: stay with a name brand. After that you have few decisions to make. Most people use 1” valves. Simple reasons are they are the most economical, readily available, both new and parts, and provide the flow most residential and small commercial designs need. Even if your design calls for a ¾’ valve use 1”. It doesn’t cost more and if you make changes or expansions in the future you won’t be restricted by the smaller size. A 1” valve will allow up to 25% more flow than a ¾” valve.

The next choice is flow control. Flow control is separate knob or screw on top of the valve and allows you to regulate the water going through the valve. In most cases flow control is not necessary but it does have advantages. If a valve sticks open, one of the more common valve failures, the flow control allows you force the valve closed. If your water pressure is low, either because of supply problems or overlapping valve operations, partially closing the flow control will help the valve close faster and more reliably. It’s cheap insurance to have.

Valves fail in consistent ways. It may not close completely. This could be due to debris, the most common reason, or worn diaphragms. Check out FILTRATION for how to prevent debris. Diaphragms do wear and age, generally resulting in a tear in the diaphragm. Just replace. For a very short video on how to do a repair look at VALVE REPAIR. Valve bodies rarely fail unless suffering freeze damage or shovel hit.

Solenoids will fail over time or the connections to the control box could have become corroded. Check the connections; make sure they are clean. For a simple way to test the solenoid:

 Steps in Creating a Portable Valve Activator.

  1. Take three 9-Volt Batteries
  2. Connect in a series
  3. Connnect one valve wire to the negative pole
  4. Then connect the other wire to the positive pole to activate the valve
  5. If the solenoid is functioning properly, you should hear a “click”

For a more involved but very easy and thorough way to test the solenoid and all wiring look at USING A MULTIMETER.

You filter your coffee, you filter air. Really should filter your irrigation water.


The water going to your irrigation system is probably not as clean as you think. Even if you have municipal water from the best city supply in the country (Austin, TX, Des Moines, IA, Sioux Falls, S.D.) that water has to get to you through old pipes. Many cities still have cast iron pipes as their main lines, some dating back over 100 years. Most homes built before the 1960s have galvanized piping.  Pipes tend to fail from the inside, losing minute rust and other particles into the water. Add in the occasional sand particles that get in the water when pipes or pumps break and are fixed, plus the minor debris caused by cutting and repairing pipes, and there is a whole flotilla of little particles floating in your water.

At this point you are probably thinking “Wait a minute! I drink that stuff! All that garbage goes into me!” Yes, it does. However, your body is better adapted to handling it than your sprinkler system. Besides, didn’t your doctor always tell you iron was good for you? Back to the pipes…

All of these particles go into your irrigation system and accumulate in valves, sprays and emitters. This causes decreased performance and a steady increase in maintenance. It also costs you money in ways you might not expect.  The thing to do is stop it before it happens.

A common problem with irrigation valves is failing to close completely. This leads to water seepage through the spray heads, wasting a great deal of water. Many times the problem is just grit or debris keeping the diaphragm from seating.

What you didn’t know it cost you: paying to fix something that is not broken. When you call a service tech (me) out for a leaking valve chances are good the first thing I will do is replace the valve. Generally I won’t even bother to see if it just needs cleaning. This is not done to save time. It is far quicker and easier to open and clean a valve than it is to cut the pipes and replace the valve.

I do it because people tend to be unhappy paying for service. People get really unhappy when charged for a service call and I look at them and say,  “Nah, I didn’t have to replace anything. I just wiped it off with a rag. It’s fine. Please pay me for one hour labor.” People like seeing things replaced. New is always better, right?

The debris also accumulates in your spray nozzles, causing pattern changes, reduced coverage distance and eventually complete blockage. These are easy to clean: tooth pick, tooth brush and running water. A tech will never clean them. It does take longer to clean these than to replace them.

The best thing to do is avoid these problems all together. Install a T-style filter.

The Vu-Flow screen filters keep out sand and debris. The body is clear so you can instantly see when the filter needs purging or cleaning. To purge, just open the valve on the bottom. The trapped dirty water flows out. If the filter needs washing unscrew the body, remove the screen and clean. You don’t need to dry it off, it’ll get wet anyway.

Various screen sizes are available for different debris sizes.

Sediment
In Water

Use
To Protect

Type To Use:
(Mesh; Micron; Inches)

Coarse Sand; Shell

Sprinkler heads

30 mesh; 533 micron; .021″

Medium
Sand/Grit
Pipe scale;
Well Cuttings

Solenoid Valves
Gear Drive Sprinkler
Domestic Water

60 mesh; 254 micron; .010″
60 mesh; 254 micron; .010″
100 mesh; 152 micron; .006″

Fine Sand/Silt

Poultry drinkers
Household well water
Drip Irrigation
Fogger Sprayer

140 mesh; 104 micron; .004″
140 mesh; 104 micron; .004″
250 mesh; 61 micron; .0024″
250 mesh; 61 micron; .0024″

T-filters are easy to install and maintain. Filtering your water extends the life of your valves and nozzles. Maintenance becomes less frequent, saving time and money.  All in all, a relatively minor investment with pretty good return.

Silly you. You thought ½” tubing measured ½”.


Half inch tubing is literally the backbone of many drip irrigation systems. It is by far the most popular size used.  The only problem is half inch tubing isn’t half inch.  It’s close! Closer than ‘hand grenade’ close. More like ‘electric razor’ close.

 

Piping has specific dimensions. Steel, iron, copper, pvc all have set standards set by ASTM International.  This means that the steel pipe you buy in Maine will fit the fittings you buy in Nebraska and connect to the existing pipe in Alaska.

Plastic tubing? No, no real standards.  The size can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer or even within the same manufacturer.  The term ½” is known as the nominal size, or the industry trade description of the product. As they say in the diet commercials, your results may vary. A lot, actually.

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

1/2-inch – .570″ ID x .670″ OD     1/2-inch – .580″ ID x .700″ OD
1/2-inch – .600″ ID x .700″ OD    1/2-inch – .620″ ID x .710″ OD

Why do you care?  Honestly, the sizes are so close they won’t have much effect on water flow, especially the two biggest. You care because fittings don’t always fit. It’s easy to buy a ½” fitting that won’t fit a ½” tube.

It is important when building a drip system to check the internal diameter of the tubing against the size of the fittings you need. While always buying the same brand of tubing and fittings help it is not a guarantee of fit. The two fittings in the picture are from the same company.  They are not interchangeable. If you put the .520” in a .600 ID tube and clamp down tight enough it should hold. You can’t put the .600” in a .520” tube without deforming the tube.

Before you buy your system take a moment and verify dimensions. Look at the barb fittings  and you see the specs are given for each piece. All you need to do is match them to your tubing.

Fortunately, ½” tubing seems to be the only product with this problem. The ¼”, ¾” and 1” are all consistent in sizing.

In the Time Before Plastic there was Brass.


There was a time when brass nozzles where all you saw in irrigation systems. Why? Well, there were no plastic ones. Hard to imagine pre-plastic, isn’t it?  You had brass, zinc and steel. Brass dominated because of its looks and durability.

The first generation or three of plastic nozzles were rough. Manufacturing technology was not at the level needed to produce a truly efficient, uniform pattern spray nozzle. If you wanted quality and efficiency you went with brass.

Today’s plastic nozzles are very efficient and provide good, uniform coverage. Many of them provide coverage as consistent as brass nozzles. They are also cheaper than brass. Why, then, would people continue to buy brass? There are a number of good reasons.

Normally about now I’d start throwing some numbers and statistics at you to show you why this product is so much better. Not today.  I will note that brass nozzles are available with a 24’ radius. Plastic nozzles tend to stop at 15’.

Our wonderful graphics group had absolutely nothing to do with this graphic.

Why buy brass?

Well, if you are designing a system and can space heads every 24’, as opposed to every 15′,  you save on parts and labor. Parts may be cheap but labor is not. Eliminating heads while maintaining coverage can make a noticeable difference in your costs.

Durability. It’s easy to find brass nozzles 50 years old still in service. Brass is corrosion resistant, withstands hot and cold easily, and resistant to abrasion from debris.  If you see a plastic nozzle 15 or 20 years old you have found an exceptional system.

Abrasion resistance. As clean as it is, your water can still carry sand and other debris. Even with municipal water there can be fine sand and, in some areas, metal particles from inside your old galvanized supply line. When metal pipes break down they tend to do it from the inside out, releasing abrasive metal particles into your water. This fine abrasion can have a cumulative effect on any nozzle. Plastic, being softer than brass, will show wear far earlier. The particles will also adhere to the side more readily, causing a build-up that has to be cleaned more often than brass.

Hot and cold. REAL hot and REAL cold. Extreme temperatures: brass has survived them just fine for centuries. Get cold enough and plastic can get brittle. Fine if no one bothers it until it warms up again, not so fine if someone steps on it.

And the main reason people still buy brass nozzles: they look good. Architects don’t recommend brass for door handles, desk trim, railings, faucets, lighting, fountains and more because it’s the latest thing. They use brass because it looks good and stays looking good for a long time. Brass gives everything a classic, finished look.

You work hard to make your place attractive. Very few parts of your irrigation system show to the public. Shouldn’t those parts reflect the pride and work you have in the rest of your home and last just as long?

SPF = Some People Fry SPM = Some People Melt


Couple of safety issues to go over today. We want to keep our customers healthy and buying stuff.

Some people fry.

No sunburn. Sunburn = bad. Too much sunburn = cancer = really bad.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on sunscreen lotions. I do, however, know how to get a bad sunburn, if that helps. In researching this post I came across the expected advice and two more things  I didn’t know. So use sunscreen, stay in shade, cover your skin, etc.

First thing I didn’t know: SPF probably doesn’t mean exactly what you think and it’s not really mathematical. The really high SPF ratings don’t do what you would expect. Because he sums it up so eloquently I’ll quote Dr. James Spencer as reported on the very useful WebMD site.

“SPF is not a consumer-friendly number,” says Florida dermatologist and American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) spokesman James M. Spencer, MD. “It is logical for someone to think that an SPF of 30 is twice as good as an SPF of 15, and so on, but that is not how it works.”

According to Spencer, an SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays, an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays, and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays.”

And now, the best technical summation I have ever read.

“After that, it just gets silly,” he says. (webmd.com: sunscreens)

The other thing I learned is that, while SPF 45 is not three times as good at SPF 15, many doctors still recommend it and higher but not because of the minor increase in efficiency. It seems most people do not apply sunscreen properly, usually applying far too thin a layer. By recommending higher SPF they hope to compensate for the fact we don’t read instructions.

Oh, and wear a hat.

Some people melt.

If you don’t count holes, snakes, saws, shovels, picks, trenchers, mud, sun, mosquitoes and PVC cutters then there are very few hazards in irrigation work.  So let’s forget those and look at primer and cement.

Working with PVC primer and cement is easy and quick. With any minor precautions at all it’s pretty safe. Even with no precautions it is hard to hurt yourself unless you try. Unfortunately, people seem to try all the time.

You should wear gloves. The primer not only stinks but it will help you find every cut and scrape on your hand and set them on fire. Do you really want that stuff going in an open wound? It also tends to dry out your skin and you lose that ‘satiny smooth’ touch you’ve worked so hard for.   Then you get the great fun of telling everyone why your hand is purple. The cement can take a day or two to come off and you look like you have Rigelian Fever.

The cement is really a solvent. It loves to melt plastic. Get some on your new eyeglasses and you’ll need another pair. Get some on your contacts? Not only will your eye scream in pain but your contact is shot.

Keep cement and primer out of your eyes or your kids will hear those words they aren’t supposed to say.

Now the serious part. Primer stinks. Badly. Primer vapors are bad for you. People will pour it on rags, hold it up to their nose and breathe deeply for a dumb and dangerous high. Dangerous and you end up with a purple nose telling everyone you are less than smart. Make sure you use primer in a well-ventilated area.

Most situations are low risk: the outdoor repair, the quick under sink fix, etc. The danger lies in lots of exposure in confined areas. You will stop smelling it. Your brain will think the nose is lying to it cuz’ nothing can smell that bad that long. The brain stops registering the odor. You can stand there breathing in all the vapors without the built in alarm system your body started with. This is known as ‘not good.’

In 20+ years of working with primer and cement I’ve never known anyone to be harmed during routine use. I have seen people working in small closed rooms get dizzy from the fumes. It’s neither fun nor funny.

Have lots of ventilation when gluing pipe. Outdoors is best.

The bright spot is if you are at risk of sunburn doing repairs it’s not likely you are in a small closed room.  Keep your hat on, use sunscreen.

Don’t listen to your sprinkler repair man. Better yet, don’t ask.


I’ll start by telling you that’s what I do. I repair sprinkler systems. This does cause a problem, as I’m telling you not to listen to me. Luckily, that’s handled by quantum metaphysics and we can skip ahead.

We are frequently asked: “What’s the best —?” Truth is, we usually don’t know. What we do know is what works for us. We have two basic requirements: we want to make a profit on the repair and we want the product to be good enough that we are not called back for warranty service. This defines our ‘best’ product.

We lose money on warranty repairs. This is bad.

We are also a conservative bunch. We don’t want to be the first one to try the new product and see if it lasts. We go with what we know.  We use the same rotors, the same controllers, the same pop-ups time and again.  I’ll go over a few of those and what might be better.

Pop-ups and nozzles

The Rain Bird 1800 series is one of the most popular popups out there, if not the most popular. It’s my default purchase. Why? Because in the years I was training my supervisors told me to go with the 1800s. Who am I to argue with the boss? Therefore it’s what I know and what I recommend.

What about the Hunter Pro Spray, Toro 570Z, and K-Rain 7800? All good, all in the same price range. The one you’ve never heard of, the K-Rain, might have the best seal in the bunch. Looks that way in drawings and specs. However, I install 1800s and don’t want to experiment.  See the problem here? I’m passing on a potentially better popup available at the same price just because I don’t want to try it and risk a warranty call.

How about nozzles? Rain Bird, Hunter and K-Rain are all extremely popular, pretty much same precipitation rate, all in the same price range. Which is best? Might be the Toro Precision nozzles. In a 12’ full circle spray they use about 1.3 gallon per minute less. Other sizes have similar savings.  Minimizes run off, helps with low gpm systems, and has an efficient pattern.  Why don’t I use and recommend them? They cost twice as much, if not more, than the others. People don’t want to pay for something they really can’t see and one nozzle spraying water looks like any other.

A quick note about something you’ve never heard of: K-Rain. K-Rain makes good products, has 90+ patents in the industry, is very competitively priced and apparently has one of the worst marketing programs around. Have you ever heard of it? People who don’t have irrigation systems know of Rain Bird, Hunter and Toro. There are many pros who don’t know about K-Rain. It’s hard for someone to recommend something they’ve never heard of.

Rotors

The most popular rotor out there is the Hunter PGP. Sells by the tens of thousands. Is it the best? Don’t know.  I sure put in a bunch of them. To be honest I like the Rain Bird 5000 “Rain Curtain” spray coverage better. The Toro T5 and the K-Rain 11000 series are in the same price range but you get a 5” pop-up instead of a 4”.  An extra inch for nuthin’. But people know Hunter and it works so I stay with it.

Controllers

I like and install Hunter. Good and reliable. That’s not the main reason I install it. Look at the face of Hunter controllers. They all look the same. I don’t have to worry about going to service a system and having to remember different brands or carry manuals with me. And, of course, I tend to recommend Hunter for the same reason.

Now look at  K-Rain series. Their controllers  are usually lower than both Rain Bird and Hunter, they also have a standard front and they are reliable. I could save you money by installing them if I were a bit more adventurous. Unfortunately, I’m a coward when it comes to money and warranties.

The point to all this is that your repairman will give you a safe answer. He works in the field all day, knows what works for him and  makes his life easier. The product might or might not be the best but it will be safe for him to recommend and it will work.

There are a lot of products out there that don’t get the exposure they should. Check our site for ideas. At Sprinkler Warehouse we try to give you all the details along with links to different manuals. A lot of information there to help you make a better choice and far more variety than many repair people have ever seen.