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Basic Diagnostics and Troubleshooting for Sprinkler Systems

Sprinkler systems are vital for maintaining lush, healthy gardens and lawns. Yet, like any mechanical system, they can encounter issues. Understanding how to diagnose and troubleshoot your sprinkler system can save you time and money, ensuring your landscape remains in top condition. Here’s a fundamental guide to help you get started.

Common Issues and Solutions

1 Sprinkler Won’t Turn On

  • Check the Controller: Ensure it’s plugged in, powered on, and set correctly. Power outages may reset the controller, requiring reprogramming.
  • Examine the Valves: If the controller is working but the sprinklers don’t activate, manually open a valve to see if water flows. If not, the issue might be electrical or with the water supply.
  • Inspect for Leaks: A significant leak can divert pressure from the sprinkler heads. Examine the system for soggy areas or visible leaks.

2 Low Water Pressure

  • Inspect for Leaks or Breaks: Even a small leak can affect water pressure significantly. Check your system thoroughly.
  • Check Valve Settings: Ensure the valves on the main line are fully open. Partially closed valves can restrict flow.
  • Clean the Sprinkler Heads: Dirt and debris can clog sprinkler heads, reducing pressure. Clean them with water, and replace if damaged.

3 Sprinkler Heads Not Popping Up

  • Obstructions: Grass and dirt can prevent sprinkler heads from popping up. Clean around the heads and trim the grass.
  • Water Pressure: If multiple heads are affected, low water pressure might be the issue. Refer to the “Low Water Pressure” section above.
  • Damaged Heads: Inspect the heads for damage. If they are cracked or broken, they will need to be replaced.

4 Sprinkler Zones Not Working

  • Controller and Valve Connection: Ensure the valve is electronically connected to the controller. A disconnected wire can prevent the valve from opening.
  • Manual Activation: Try manually activating the zone from the valve. If it works manually but not from the controller, the issue might be electrical.
  • Check for Electrical Issues: Use a multimeter to check for voltage at the valve’s solenoid. A lack of voltage could indicate a problem with the wiring or controller.

5 Erratic Sprinkler Coverage

  • Adjust the Heads: Make sure they are correctly aimed to cover the intended area efficiently. Misaligned heads waste water and leave dry spots.
  • Pressure Regulators: Install pressure-regulating devices to maintain consistent pressure across all zones, especially if your system has areas of differing elevation.
  • Replace Nozzles: Over time, nozzles can wear out and start spraying erratically. Replacing them can improve coverage uniformity.

Maintenance Tips

  • Regular Inspections: Walk through your system monthly to check for leaks, broken parts, or inefficiencies.
  • Seasonal Adjustments: Change your irrigation schedule based on the season. Your landscape’s water needs differ from summer to winter.
  • Professional Audit: Consider getting a professional audit of your irrigation system every few years. It can highlight inefficiencies and improve water usage.

By understanding these basic diagnostics and troubleshooting steps, you can maintain an efficient and effective sprinkler system. Regular maintenance not only saves water but also helps keep your landscape thriving and beautiful.


If you have any questions or need any type of sprinkler system repair, the experts at SprinklerRepair.com will be glad to help. Give us a call or (888) 427-5022 to set an appointment.