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 - 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.