Your Home
    brought to you by The Reilly Group. Home Inspection Services in Connecticut. 203-785-8141  
Tips & info on maintaining and enjoying your Connecticut home
July 2009
Some nice green grass

Spotlight On
Sprinkler Systems

A home irrigation system can help you keep your lawn green while reducing the amount of water you use with manual sprinklers. Believe it or not, lawns and gardens consume about 50% of the water used by households in the U.S. By taking the guesswork out of placement and timing, these systems can reduce your water consumption in a snap.

FACTS (from the Colorado State Extension Service)

  • Efficient irrigation requires a quality sprinkler system design, excellent water management skills and regular system maintenance.
  • Tune ups and renovations of home sprinklers greatly improve water coverage resulting in both better plant growth and water savings.
  • Seasonal adjustment of irrigation controllers yields substantial water savings and better plant health.
  • New technologies will likely result in improved water management.
  • An irrigation audit can point to where water savings can be achieved.

If your home does not have a sprinkler system in place, we suggest using an experienced professional to install your system. Some key questions to ask are:

  • How do you insure the system is installed properly?
  • Will you show me how to use and maintain the system so that I am not wasting water?
  • How often should I use the irrigation system? Is it better to use it every day for a short time or every few days for a longer amount of time?
  • What precautions should I take to protect my home, deck and other items from water damage?
  • What should I do to close down the system in winter ?
  • What steps should I take to get the system running again in spring?
  • What is your guarantee?
  • What makes your company’s system better than the others?

Once you have a sprinkler system, it is important that it is checked and regularly maintained to avoid problems. Some of the problems we see most often are:

  • Sprinkler system running during the day. You should run your system at night or in the early morning so that the lawn and garden get time to soak up the moisture before it is dried by the sun
  • Sprinkler heads at wrong angle. Sprinkler heads should be at a 45 degree angle to the lawn
  • Broken sprinkler heads. You can easily spot these as they often cause a muddy puddle but are circled by larger areas of dry lawn.
  • Leaky valves. These are harder to discern but you know you most likely have a leaky valve if water is weeping from the sprinkler head when the system is not on.
  • No head-to-head coverage. As a rule, the water form one spray head should hit the next closest spray head. This will insure the lawn gets even water coverage.
  • Water is hitting the home or the deck. Sprinkler systems should never hit your home or deck as they will easily and quickly cause structural damage.
  • Water is pooling in your driveway or sidewalk. This may mean any number of things. The most common include: spray heads not installed the proper distance from the hard surface, the sprinkler system is running too long resulting in wasted water, one or more spray heads are set at the wrong angle.
  • Water is spraying into your garden, hedges, or other garden areas. Sprinkler systems are great for lawns but not much else. Water is wasted if it is spraying on these areas as it most often pools on the leaves and then is dried up by the sun. The best way to water these areas is with drip irrigation or by hand watering directly at the root level.

If you are experiencing any of these issues, it is time to have your system checked and maintained.

If you have an older system you may not get the benefit or water savings that newer systems offer. Older systems often also have more issues but can be easily. You can improve the performance of an older system by:

  • Replace sprinkler heads every five years
  • Adding a rain/moisture sensor so your system knows not to go on unnecessarily
  • Upgrade your timer so you can more finely control the times your system runs

Additional Resources:

Colorado State Extension - Water Management

Some nice green grass
Some nice green grass

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