Troubleshooting a Sprinkler System That is Not Working

Sprinkler systems are a convenient way of watering your landscape, but sometimes they don't work properly because of problems like broken or clogged sprinkler heads.

Most problems with sprinklers can be repaired by the average homeowner.
Troubleshooting your sprinkler system means identifying the problem so that you can attempt maintenance or repair. All it takes is a bit of knowledge about how the system works to avoid calling in a professional when it isn't functioning. .

Turn the spray nozzles to point in the proper direction if the sprinkler is shooting water the wrong way. On some models, turn a flow-adjustment screw located on the top of the nozzle, using a small screwdriver. Adjust a spray that is too high or too low with the special tool provided by the manufacturer of your sprinkler system.

Stick a thin, stiff piece of wire, such as a paper clip, into sprinkler holes that are clogged. Depending on your irrigation system, you may need to remove each nozzle and hold it under running water to remove the debris that is clogging it.

Open the control valve completely to increase water pressure if a sprinkler won't pop up. Divide the circuit into two separate lines if opening the control valve doesn't get the sprinkler to pop up.

Look around the sprinkler area for a missing nozzle if you find water that is shooting or dribbling from the body of the sprinkler. Replace any missing or broken nozzles. Inspect the ground for signs of an underground pipe leak if the nozzle is not missing or damaged. If the ground is wet, dig down to the pipe to see if it's leaking. If there's a leak, saw off the piece of leaking pipe. Repair it by installing a coupler fitting to rejoin the pipe, using pipe primer and pipe adhesive.

Inspect the part of the sprinkler that delivers the water to the base of the turbine if the rotor only rotates in one direction, or not at all. Clean away any debris that has gathered there, and around the rotor nozzle. Make sure that the control valve is completely open, since insufficient water pressure may be the cause of a rotor not working.

Open and the close the control valve several times in rapid movement. This maneuver dislodges sediment in the valve that can cause the circuit to stop shutting off automatically. Remove the valve cap and blow the sediment out with a can of compressed air if the open-and-close trick does not work.

Things You Will Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Paper clip
  • Replacement nozzle
  • Small saw
  • Pipe coupling
  • Pipe primer
  • Pipe adhesive

About the Author

Timothy Sexton's more than 10,000 articles have been published on sites ranging from USA Today to CareerAddict, from PopEater to TakeLessons.com. His writing has been referenced in books ranging from "The Reckless Life...of Marlon Brando" to "Brand New China: Advertising, Media and Commercial and from Scarface Nation to Incentive!"