Sprinkler Systems FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Frequently asked questions for sprinkler systems in Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Leander, Liberty Hill, Weir, Salado, Hutto, Taylor, Sun City, Jonah, Manor, Florence, Granger, Salado and other areas.
My system is stuck on. What is wrong with it, and how to I turn it off?
Try to turn off the system at the controller first. If the system is still running, turn off the water supply located near the meter. If the water supply has to be cut off, there is a mechanical problem with the sprinkler control valve. This can be related to debris or a broken component within the valve itself.
Where do I shut off the water supply to my system?
The backflow preventer is normally the easiest location to shut off the system. This valve is normally located near the water meter in a green rectangular box roughly the same size as a meter box. This box can become overgrown with grass or have soil on top of it. The brass backflow preventer has two shut-off valves on it that can be turned off. Generally these valves should be turned perpendicular to the direction of the pipe to stop the flow. Round Rock, Austin, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Pflugerville and Hutto all require backflow preventers on new systems.
After turning off the water supply, contact American Irrigation Repair to schedule the necessary repair.
What if I cannot find my shut-off and it is on the weekend or after hours?
Water providers typically have 24 hour help lines to help you in case you are unable to turn off your water. Contact your water provider.
How long do I have to wait for you to service my system?
Call as soon as you know you need us. We may run backlogs in the driest parts of the year due to heavy call volume. We always recommend our customers call us before they need to use their system so we can make sure the sprinklers are functioning when you need them most.
Do I have to wait for you to get parts?
Generally we try to complete most small repair jobs on the first visit. We carry parts from most manufacturers on our trucks. Larger, more complex jobs, or jobs with unique parts may require ordering parts or rescheduling the work.
Do you warranty your work?
Yes, please see our guarantee page for more information.
Why do I have big dry areas in my lawn?
Dry spots is one of the most common complaints we receive. Many different problems can be the cause but the most common are clogged sprinkler heads, inappropriate schedule, or broken control valves. A good idea is for you to check the system monthly and make sure the heads have not become clogged with debris or covered with grass. Contact us today for a complete professional inspection.
I’ve fixed my system and still have dry spots. What’s wrong?
Many times we get called back later in the summer after we have inspected and repaired a system with customers noticing dry spots. It is important to remember that the irrigation schedule will need to be substantially updated depending on the weather. Expect to have to apply significantly more water during periods of extreme heat. In turf, under-watering will generally show itself with splotchy areas of dry grass. The lawn will not dry and become stressed in a uniform pattern. Some areas will have poorer soil, rock, or just not get as much coverage as others. Even the best sprinkler systems are generally only about 65% efficient.
My controller runs a cycle, then turns on again. Is the controller bad?
This is one of our most common calls. It is very easy to accidentally set additional start times or have hidden secondary programs in the irrigation controller. When this happens make sure to remove any unwanted start times or programs. Most controllers have up to four programs and four or more start times. It’s very easy for additional start times to become accidentally hidden within the controller. Additionally you can remove the controller battery and let the controller sit without power for a period of time to help clear the memory and reset. Some controllers have a reset button inside the back panel of the controller. If the problem persists, contact American Irrigation Repair for assistance.
My controller is blank or the display shows incorrectly. Does the controller need to be replaced?
Many times the newer electronic controllers will become locked when a power surge, or lightning strike occurs. Perform a hard reset on the controller to make sure that the controller is not locked up. If the controller has a battery backup, remove power and remove the battery. It is imperative that the battery is removed while the a/c power is also removed in order to allow the unit to completely power down. Allow the controller to sit for a few minutes. If the controller has a reset button, depress the reset button while the power is off. After allowing the unit to sit for a few minutes, reconnect the power, and reinstall the battery. If the unit appears to be functioning correctly, the problem may be solved. If the unit continues to not function properly, contact American Irrigation Repair to service the system.
My controller shows “short”, or continues to blow fuses. What does that mean?
First and most importantly, NEVER install a larger fuse because the smaller one blows. If the controller shows “short”, or blows fuses, that almost always indicates a problem with the controller, or field wiring. Contact American Irrigation Repair to have the system serviced.
How long should I water?
Generally run times on spray or mister style heads should be between 5-25 minutes, and run times on single or multi stream rotating heads should be 25-75 minutes depending on the season. More detailed scheduling information is located below. Contact us today and we can recommend a schedule after evaluating your system.
How quickly the lawn dries out depends on the weather each specific day. During the week around the first of August 2011 between plant use and evaporation, the rate has been as high as .4” per day. That’s almost a half inch a day.
In order to keep a green lawn or living plants that water has to be replaced. This is where the issues can arise. Most folks don’t know how long it takes to apply .4” with their sprinklers. There are some complex formulas for calculating irrigation system distribution uniformity, and plant stress factors, but for the purpose of this write-up I am going to keep things simple.
Generally Rotor style sprinklers apply water at a rate of .4” per hour, and spray / mister type heads apply at a rate of 1.2” per hour. These are general terms and depend on the spacing and pressure and other variables. So in order to totally replace the water lost on a day such as 7/28/2011 you would need to run your system one hour on rotor style heads, and 20 minutes on sprays / mister style heads… EVERY DAY!
The average residential sprinkler zone uses approx. 14-18 gallons per minute. So let’s run some numbers…
If you have a 10 zone system, four of which are sprayers and six of which are rotor style heads here is how your water bill would break down to keep a totally replenished yard in this drought…
6 zones (rotor style) x 60 minutes each(.4” application) = 360 minutes of run time
4 zones(spray style) x 20 minutes each(.4” application) = 80 minutes of run time
Total run time of 440 minutes would use between 6160 and 7920 gallons of water… FOR ONE DAY. So watering like this every day would yield a monthly water use age of between 184,800 and 237,600 just for the sprinklers in the lawn. This translates to a water bill for the irrigation of between $1288 and $1659 to have a zero stress lawn on an average residential system of ten zones. This assumes a top tier rate of $7.00 per 1,000 gallons. Yours may be slightly higher or lower.
Generally no one wants to spend that much on their water bill, and we wouldn’t want to risk running out of water in a drought. We have to find a happy medium. Generally speaking watering to get to ½” is your best bet. We do not recommend short run times under ½” as the irrigation cycle will dry out before the plants or turf use the water. This correlates to approx. 75 minutes for rotor style heads and 25-30 for spray type heads. Water this as often as your water district or budget allows. Additionally we have found that watering in the evening allows the plants and turf to sit cool and they respond well to this. It is important to remember watering in the evening is not recommended in the fall / winter.
Almost daily during droughts we get the question of why if the sprinklers are working correctly are there green splotchy areas and then dry areas in the yard. Folks assume the system is not working efficiently when they see this. If we have checked your system and reported that your system is operating correctly other factors may be the cause.
Irrigation is not like rain. It does not apply water nice and even. There are inherent inefficiencies which is called distribution uniformity. Most sprinklers at their maximum run about 65% uniformity which is not very good. This means some areas get less, some get more and if your lawn is not getting enough water as a whole, the areas that are getting more often times will be green. Those are the over watered areas in that efficiency spectrum. Add those issues to things like poor soil conditions such as rock, gravel, base, compaction and there is a huge range of what the lawn will look like as it starts to dry out. Some areas dry quicker, some slower and good soil will hold the water longer than rocky. The only solution to this is to slightly overwater some areas to get water to the less efficient areas.
No lawn, when irrigated to a certain level of stress, will dry to a completely uniform level. Under-irrigating will always show itself as splotchy dry and green areas.
Cars keep running over my heads, what can be done about it?
We can install updated swing joints into your system to reduce the likelihood of breakage due to vehicular traffic. Contact American Irrigation Repair today to have them installed on your system.
What do I need to do to my system to prepare for winter?
Generally the central Texas weather does not get cold enough to justify any blow-out winterizing of our sprinkler systems. Wrap any exposed metal components with insulation, and keep the system off during freezing weather. We do not recommend a sprinkler system be turned off for the entire winter in Austin Texas area. There are rubber, water lubricated parts on all the control valves, and heads that will become brittle and crack if they are not exercised occasionally. Run the system at least once per month to prevent these issues from arising. American Irrigation Repair LLC offers winter system inspections to be sure the backflow preventers and other components are insulated. Preventative measures can limit the risk of freeze damage.
City of Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Hutto or Pflugerville has mailed me a letter requesting a test of my backflow preventer. What does that mean?
Water providers generally have required backflow preventer tests when the system is installed. Some providers are now requiring tests on a annual basis. Contact American Irrigation Repair today to have a state certified backflow tester out to test your backflow device.
What is a backflow preventer and why do I need one?
The backflow preventer is designed to prevent the dirty irrigation water sitting in the heads from being backsiphoned or sucked back into your house water. Broken city water mains, fire pumper trucks and other things can cause this to become a reality. Because of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides we put on our lawns this water can be very dirty. This is why backflow preventers are needed, and required.
My backflow preventer has been a problem several times before, and I am tired of messing with it. Can it just be removed?
The simple answer to this is NO. Backflow preventers are required to promote safe drinking water to all who share the supply. Municipalities such as Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Georgetown, and Hutto require backflow preventers to be connected to their water supply. Removal of these devices will trigger disconnection/ fines or both. Contact American Irrigation Repair so we can discuss what changes could be made to keep continued repetitive problems from occurring with your backflow prevention device.
I have city and well service. Can I connect my sprinkler to both, and just have a valve to switch to whichever one I want to use?
No. Municipal water suppliers require a physical separation between well water and the municipal water supply. If your system is not setup accordingly, contact us immediately to correct the connection.
Can I save money by installing a sprinkler system by myself?
American Irrigation Repair has the training, knowledge, and experience to create the most cost-effective and energy-efficient systems. If you try to install a system yourself it will most likely cost you more money in the long run. When designing and installing a system we pay special attention to sprinkler patterns, backflow prevention, and local plumbing and electrical codes. We will install a sprinkler system faster with less disruption to your yard, and we guarantee our work.
Will I have difficulty operating my sprinkler system?
American Irrigation Repair will help you select the best controller for your needs, and we will program it with your customized watering schedule. We will take the time to explain the sprinkler system's operation to you.
I have a really high water bill. Does this indicate a sprinkler leak?
A high water bill can be a sign of a leak. It’s important to remember that as usage increases water rates typically ramp up exponentially. After the recent droughts water suppliers have drastically increased enforcement for water violators. Operate the system and look for any broken lines, heads, or nozzles that may be immediately obvious. Turn off those affected zones until the appropriate repairs can be made. Make sure the irrigation controller is scheduled as you have intended. One of the most common mistakes is hidden schedules located under alternate programs or start times causing the system to cycle too frequently. American Irrigation Repair is able to perform an complete inspection of your system to locate any leaks or inefficiencies and make the appropriate recommendations for repair or rescheduling.
How much does a sprinkler system cost?
The price of a system depends upon many factors such as property size, type of landscaping, and other factors. American Irrigation Repair will make sure you have the options that are best for your lawn and budget. Contact us to give you a bid on any irrigation work you need!
How much do you charge to repair sprinkler systems?
Please see our pricing page for our sprinkler repair pricing.
I owe a BIG thank you to American Irrigation Repair. I busted a pipe doing some digging in my front yard, and they came highly recommended. They did a great job, quickly, and for a great price. In addition to the pipe that I broke, they found a sprinkler head that had been stuck below the yard surface for months and fixed it on their own initiative, without fuss and without charging more than the agreed upon price. I hope I don't need another repair job anytime soon, but if I do I know who to call. 5 stars and two very big thumbs up.
Just a note to thank you for the swift response to our requests and to thank in particular both Matt and Casey for their help on September 27. It is always such a joy to meet “good people” who have pride in what they know, in what they can accomplish. Thank you and God Bless.
American Irrigation did an audit of our irrigation system and repaired non- functioning heads and divided up one of our zones. They did a great job and came to do the service at the time they promised.
We will use them yearly to audit our system and make any repairs necessary. I would highly recommend American Irrigation for any service to your irrigation system."
Pilgrim Management Company
American Irrigation Repair delivers prompt, reliable and knowledgeable service for any repairs. We have used them many times and will continue to do so.