Friday, December 2, 2011

Should I Winterize my Sprinkler System?

Lexington sprinkler repair can winterize your irrigation system, preparing it for the cold freezing weather if it is deemed necessary.  Winterizing can be an important step in maintaining your system because it prevents damage that could lead to costly repairs.  Individual consideration is given as to whether it is needed (It may be warm enough to let it slide) and, if it is needed, which method to use.
Although freezing temperatures are short-lived in the Lexington South Carolina and Chapin areas, they still can pose a threat to lawn sprinkler systems.  For this reason, you need to winterize your system before the first freeze of the season, draining and removing all water either by manual drain, auto drain, or blowout.

 The manual drain method is used when manual drain valves are at the end and low points of the irrigation pipes.  This is the easiest and less invasive method.  Your contractor will shut off the sprinkler water supply, and then open all manual drain valves.  Once water has been drained from the mainline, he will drain all the water between the shut off valve and backflow device.  Then he can let all the water drain through the bottom of the sprinkler, closing the manual drain valves when all the water has drained.
   
In some areas of the Country or on the more high end systems, the automatic drain method is used when automatic drain valves are at the end and low points of the irrigation pipes.  They can open and drain automatically when air pressure in the pipes falls below 10 PSI.  Your contractor can activate these valves by shutting off the sprinkler water supply, and then relieving the pressure in the system by activating a zone.  The rest of the draining procedure is like that of the manual drain method.  Your system could actually have a combination of manual drain valves on the mainline, and automatic drain valves on the lateral lines.

The “blow out” method requires your contractor to use an air compressor.  He will remove the backflow device to attach the compressor OR install a quick connect on the water supply side of the system.  The valves will then be turned on one by one, and the compressor will be turned on to blow out all the water.  He will then move from one valve to the next, repeating the process.  Once he has finished the blow out, he will turn off the control panel clock timer.

Lexington Sprinkler Repair can assist you in maintaining the integrity and operation of your system by winterizing it.  If you live in Lexington or Chapin, you know that freezing pipes are indeed a possibility. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Traveling Lawn Sprinklers

Did you know that traveling lawn sprinklers are a great above ground option for watering large areas of lawn, field, or garden?  They cover wide areas, save time, and are good for odd-shaped or hilly turfs.

Traveling sprinklers are self-propelled, operating on neither electricity nor gas.  They are usually found in tractor or wind-up types.  Tractor types throw water from two watering arms that rotate 360 degrees.  With the wind-up type, someone would lay out a cord in a pattern that the unit follows, dragging a hose behind it.

Traveling sprinklers work very well, provided you have good water pressure.  Except for initial set up, they operate independently.  They generally have a couple speed settings, and there is also an option to keep the unit stationary.

These types of sprinklers are good for schools or businesses that have more than one field to water.  They are also perfect for sports fields, golf courses, cemeteries, and parks.

Affectionately known as “The Lazy Man’s Sprinkler”, a traveling sprinkler is a great way to water larger or multiple areas, or areas that are oddly shaped.  Just set it up, and watch it go!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Do-It-Yourself Sprinkler System Kits

     Save time and money by installing one of the many do-it-yourself sprinkler system kits on the market to water your lawn and garden.  Installing your own sprinkler system doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.  With adequate preparation and a good do-it-yourself system, any homeowner can have the lawn and garden of their dreams.

     A lawn sprinkler system can add value to a property, so you can expect to see a return on your investment.  You’ll save yourself lots of time by not watering your yard the old-fashioned way with a garden hose.  You could save hundreds, or possibly thousands of dollars on sprinkler system installation depending on the size of your yard and the amount of irrigation zones needed.

     Today’s do-it-yourself sprinkler system kits make the project of installing your own system quite simple.  They come equipped with detailed instructions and tutorials for everything from planning the system, to digging trenches, to running pvc pipe, to installing sprinkler heads and a controller.  And if you so choose, you can install a system without ever digging trenches or ripping up your lawn.

     You will want to shop around for a sprinkler system kit that meets your needs, and matches your technical skill set.  Also, when looking for just the right kit, look for one that includes lots of detailed instructions, tutorials, troubleshooting guides, tips, and tricks.  The more information you have available to you, the better.

     If you are looking for a cost-effective approach to keeping your lawn and garden watered without wasting time and energy with a garden hose, do-it-yourself sprinkler system kits are a good choice  With the proper system kit and a little elbow grease, you can surely reap the rewards of your own labor.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sprinkler System Thunderstorm Damage

It’s thunderstorm season again, and you may be concerned about or wonder if thunderstorms zap sprinkler systems.  Lightning from a storm is a powerful force, and can most definitely affect your system.  If preventative measures are taken, however, you can avoid damage.

     Because you have zone wires running all over your property, your sprinkler system is a target for lightning.  With one strike, the valve solenoid and timer could be damaged or even demolished.  It could even get into your home’s electrical system.

     After a storm has passed, check the control panel to ensure it hasn’t been scrambled, and also take notice of any electrical burn smells or burn spots.  These are indicators that some damage has occurred.  The damages that won’t be as obvious are shorted or burned out solenoids and melted wires or insulation because they are all underground.

     Expensive and extensive repairs to your sprinkler system, and possibly to other systems in the home, can be prevented by hiring a well-trained irrigation contractor.  They will know how to properly protect your sprinkler sytem parts from storm damage and advise you of other ways to keep your irrigation system working properly.

     Remember that damage could take weeks or even months to present itself, so take precautionary action by inspecting the control panel after storms.  Have your system inspected for proper grounding, and have it done correctly if it’s faulty.  Don’t let one lightning strike cause a potential laundry list of repairs, replacements, and an eventual decline of your lawn.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Broken Water Main

Do you have a Broken Water Main or a Leaking Sprinkler Valve related to your lawn sprinkler system?  A broken water main can be a messy, costly, and downright disastrous event.  Once the problem is recognized, immediate attention must be given to prevent more damage and inconvenience than necessary.  Once the location and cause of the break have been determined, speedy repairs can begin.

     You’ll know there’s a break in the water main when you see flooding in yards or the streets, or when you see a full-blown geyser shooting water straight up from the ground.  This can be an enticing spectacle to view if you are not one of those directly affected or called upon to rectify the situation.

     Flooding from a broken water main can be hazardous under mild weather conditions.  However, when temperatures are below freezing, serious problems can arise.  Anything from ice-covered homes, trees, and cares, to a thick sheet of ice on the streets can develop.  Residents in the areas may even be asked to boil their water as a safety precaution. 

     Depending on the location and size of the break, as well as the amount of damage resulting from the break, the length of time spent repairing the broken water main could last a day or 2, or even for weeks.  Unless a break has occurred on your property and is your responsibility, you will be at the mercy of repair and clean up crews.

     If you experience a broken water main near or on your property, remain calm.  Most importantly, don’t attempt to fix the break yourself.  Leave repairs to the professionals, otherwise you could make matters worse by causing additional damage to the line, or by placing yourself in a potentially hazardous situation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tune-Ups on Your Lawn Sprinkler System

     As with any other system, it is important to perform routine tune-ups on your lawn sprinkler system.  The system will continue to conserve water and money if it’s working properly.  There are several specific problems to look for during a tune-up, as well as adjustments that may need to be made the the sprinkler system components.

     Look for spray or rotor heads that are too low because grass height could cause an improper spray pattern.  Broken heads might need to be addressed by a sprinkler head repair service.  Check for spray or rotor heads that are out of adjustment so that the water isn’t being sprayed into unwanted areas.  Check zone valves for leakage.  You will know they are leaking if you see water puddles forming around the lower spray or rotor heads.  Also make sure those zone valves shut on and off properly.  As valves age, this can become a problem.  Another problem that should be addressed is a dysfunctional controller or timer.

     Inspect each zone by turning on the zone valves one at a time.  Remove and clean the nozzles on spray heads, and clean the screens while you’re at it.  Adjust the sprinklers so that only the areas needing watering are being watered.  You may also need to adjust the direction of the spray.  Check your system’s battery once per year, and replace the battery every two years.  If you don’t already have one, install a rain sensor to prevent any over-watering.

     If you are comfortable with the process, you can perform a lawn sprinkler system tune-up yourself.  If not, you can always hire a professional sprinkler or lawn care company to do it for you.  A professional can make all the needed adjustments, and repair or replace sprinkler heads and valves.  They can even update the time clock if your existing timer is out-dated or not as easy to use.

     Keep your lawn and garden looking beautiful by doing or getting tune-ups on your lawn sprinkler system.  It will keep the system running smoothly, and you can avoid costly repairs due to issues that arise from not giving attention to small problems or to needed adjustments.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How To turn off Sprinkler System

What would you do if, in an emergency, you needed to turn off your sprinkler sytem?  Do you have an emergency sprinkler system shutoff valve in case you have a water main break or a zone that won't turn off?  If you do not or if you don't know where it is located, this article may be of help to you or you can call on our sprinkler system repair service to assist you in this or any aspect of your irrigation.  The system can be isolated by either turning off the backflow control valve, the water main ball valve or by turning off the entire water supply at the water meter.

In Lexington, South Carolina sprinkler systems should have a backflow control valve.  Backflow control valves serve the purpose of preventing chemicals and other pollution from entering into your drinking water supply through your sprinkler heads or breaks in your irrigation pipes.  They also can be used to completely shut off your sprinkler system.  On the side of the brass colored unit which is usually located in a square green box, there are two shutoff points that you can turn to block the water flow.  If you don't have a backflow control valve installation or if you need it to be tested, we can help.

Another way to shut off your sprinkler system is by turning off the ball valve, which is attached to the main line (again, if you don't have one, you should have one installed).  The ball valve is usually in a round valve box with a green lid and may be located near the water meter or somewhere near the backflow control valve.  If it is located before the backflow control valve, it can be handy for shutting off water supply to fix a leaking backflow control valve or a leaking valve manifold.  Turning the ball valve to where the handle is "in line" with the pvc pipe is the "on" position while in the perpendicular position it is in the "off" position.

Another way to turn off a malfunctioning sprinkler system is to turn off the water main at the water meter.  You will need a "key" which can be purchased at the hardware store.  You will be turning a small knob on the meter with the key to the right to close the water supply.  To open the water main, you will be turning the key counter clockwise.  Be very careful when working with the meter so as to not break the shutoff valve...never force something to open or close and ask a professional if you run into any trouble.

Lexington Sprinkler Repair is here to help.  If you are in the Lake Murray, Chapin, Lexingon or Irmo area or in Greater Columbia, S.C. give us a shout at 331-5323 or visit us online at http://www.lexingtonsprinklerrepair.com/ - We also do irrigation installation!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sprinkler System Installation Prices Lexington S.C.

Sprinkler system installation prices vary a significant amount in Lexington, S.C.  On the average yard, assuming that you are only installing sprinkler heads to cover the lawn (and no drip for bushes), I have seen the cost range from $1000 to upwards of $4500.  The difference lies in the quality of craftsmanship of the irrigation, the quality of the plumbing materials and valves used, whether a backflow control valve or other so called "options" are installed and the general professionalism of the installation contractor.

The difference in quality of craftsmanship can be vast.  One contractor may only bury the main water pipes and zone pvc 3" deep or so (just below the sod!) while a more professional installation contractor would properly bury the pipes to a depth of at least 5".  If water pipes are not winterized (which is often the case here in South Carolina), shallowly buried pipes run more of a risk of bursting, costing you a significant amount of grief and money as well as damage to the lawn or even the house.  Other quality of installation issues include:
  • Whether the contractor takes the time to tap into the water main AT THE WATER METER (or simply cut corners by tapping in at places that are more convenient and quick for them such as water spigots)
  • Whether the contractor primes the pipe before gluing and whether they have a qualified "helper" to properly glue pvc mains together (many water main breaks or leaks in our experience are due to improper gluing or a "bad connection" due to misalignment of the pipes)
  • Wires for the control panel not shrouded - these wires are often in a very visible area in a garage or laundry room and should be properly enclosed in shrouding, mounted to the wall, not loose, dangling, and unsightly.
  • Proper planning of trenches before digging up the yard - a good sprinkler installer has a clear picture of where all the trenches, backflow control valve and zone valves, and other buried components should be.
The quality of components and materials is also a huge factor.  Brand names such as Rainbird, Hunter, Toro, or Nelson should be insisted upon.  They are more expensive than off brands, but in the long run, when it comes to potentially expensive sprinkler repair prices, it can be worth the money.  Also, how old are and how long have the pvc pipes been laying around?  Many larger contractors stockpile alot of pvc pipe in advance...and consequently have some old stock that may be used on your sprinkler system.  Insist on fresh, all new materials.

If you contract with a company or a "professional" who installs an irrigation system in your lawn without installing a BACKFLOW CONTROL valve or device, they have more than likely broken the law.  What a backflow control valve does is it prevents contaminated water (lawn water with fertilizer or grubworm chemicals leeching from the turf sucking back through the sprinkler heads or pipe breaks!) from entering into your household, potable water system or into your neighborhood's system.  Leaving the backflow valve out in an estimate makes that contractor's quote at least $250 cheaper than their competitors.  Other options that are installed on quality systems may consist of: automatic fertilization system connections/provisions, winterization quick connections, main line shutoff valves and Seal A Matic heads in low spots to prevent leak downs.

How professional is the contractor?  When they answer the phone, are they courteous?  Are the terms of the work clear to both parties?  Would you trust these people on your property?  These are all significant issues that you should be prepared to evaluate when deciding on who to do business with.  If, for example, you have children within ear shot of the workers - are the workers communicating with foul language or otherwise setting bad examples? 

Craftmanship, quality, options, professionalism are all items that should be evaluated before contracting to install a sprinkler system at your home or commercial site.  The prices of contractors often tells the story...if the price is unusually low, its probably for a good reason (such as cutting corners).  If its too high of a price, it very well could be that the contractor doesn't know how to accurately price irrigation (not to say that they wouldn't do a good job).  Most of the time, the average yard in Lexington, S.C. would call for a 4 to 5 zone sprinkler system with a cost in the $2300 range.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to repair a broken PVC pipe

If you have a lawn irrigation system and you have to maintain it, sooner or later you are going to have to know how to repair a broken pvc pipe.  There are several ways that you can do this.  You can dig up about a 5 foot length of the pipe, exposing it to where you can lift it up, bend it, then connect it with a coupler or you can do the 4 elbow method.  You can use a pvc pipe expansion coupling or a compression coupling.  These are all great ways to solve the problem but a new product out makes all of these methods seem obsolete - the new fix is called the Pipe Dream Coupler.

This new broken pvc repair coupler works like this: You remove the dirt surrounding the broken area of the pipe, cut out the bad part, then slip the coupler on one end of the pipe then slip it towards and over the other pipe that you're connecting...that's it.  You would, of course, apply primer and glue to both ends before you start slipping pipes over each other, but other than that its a quick, easy and reliable way to repair pvc pipe. 

The other methods of repairing sprinkler system pipes that I mention work fine depending upon the application, but I do plan on using this new method where applicable.

If you have a sprinkler system problem in Lexington South Carolina let me know, I can help!

Happy Gardening,
ash