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Maintenance of Your Irrigation System
If your sprinkler system was installed properly, it should give you years of
trouble free operation and require only minor maintenance. Although we recommend
that your system be serviced by a NJ State licensed irrigation contractor, the
following information may be helpful to you in understanding and troubleshooting
your system. We encourage you to work safely and, for your protection, we
recommend that you wear safety glasses and gloves.
When is the best time to start up my sprinkler system in spring?
Opening your sprinkler system for the season will depend on the weather
conditions in your area and your individual watering needs. As a general rule,
the system should not be opened until the threat of frost is passed. If you are
an early planter, we recommend waiting to open your system until after April 15.
By planting standards, Mother's Day (the 2nd Sunday in May) is considered to be
the safe date to avoid frost damage, making May the ideal month to open your
system. If you have a particularly rainy spring, you may even choose to open
your system in June, although you should be sure to have the system fully
operational before the heat of the summer.
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How do I turn on my sprinkler system in the spring?
If your sprinkler system was installed properly, turning it on in the spring
is relatively easy.
Please refer to the diagram, "Backflow Device."
- Be sure the manual drain valve is closed. This valve is usually located
below or before the backflow device outside your house.
- Slowly open the gate valve. This valve is usually located after the meter
in the basement on the line going out of your house to the backflow device.
- Check the main line, valves, and backflow device for any sign of leakage.
Repair breaks as needed.
- Open the front cover of your sprinkler timer, find the battery backup (if
it has one) and replace. Follow the instructions in your sprinkler's timer
manual. Go through all the zones one at a time. Check each zone for water
coverage, leaky heads and breaks.
- Cut and clean any excess lawn or plant growth away from the sprinkler
heads that would inhibit proper operation of the sprinkler head.
- Check and make sure the sprinkler heads are level and flush with the grade
of the lawn, to insure that they will not be hit my mowers or other lawn
- Be sure your sprinkler heads are at least an inch away from walks or
curbing to insure that edgers do not hit them.
- Check that the sprinkler heads are adjusted properly and coverage is
correct for each zone area. Adjust heads as necessary using your hand and/or
- Make sure the sprinkler heads are not clogged. If clogged, unscrew the
head casing or nozzle and check the filter at the base or in the stem of the
head. Clean out the filter with air or water. Check to see if a stone or other
debris is lodged in the nozzle; clean or replace as necessary.
- If you experience problems with a particular zone, turn that zone off on
the timer so the rest of the system can continue to operate normally.
Horizon for service or your local NJ State licensed irrigation professional.
We suggest checking your system at least two additional times during the
watering season. It is especially helpful to check the system whenever you
experience severe weather changes, such as increased rain or periods of drought.
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How do I adjust my rotary sprinkler heads?
Try these simple checks before calling Horizon for service. We encourage you
to work safely and, for your protection, we recommend that you wear safety
glasses and gloves.
If the timer fails to start:
- Check to see that the timer has power.
- Check the timer's fuse or circuit breaker.
- Unplug the timer, remove the batteries, wait 10 seconds, reinstall or replace
the batteries, plug in the timer
- back in and reprogram, following the timer instructions.
- Your timer's instruction manual should provide other troubleshooting ideas
suitable to your model.
- Follow all safety instructions in your owner's manual.
If the backflow device leaks and/or water is leaking into the house:
- Shut off the main water valve until the device can be repaired or replaced.
If a zone fails to turn on:
Check the wire connections at the valve and at the clock. Repair if
If a valve sticks open and will not close:
- Turn off main water supply valve at the backflow device or in the basement.
- Loosen the screws and remove the top cover of the sticking valve.
- Remove the rubber diaphragm.
- Look for stones or debris at the bottom of the valve.
- Inspect the rubber diaphragm for tears or embedded stones. Replace diaphragm
- Reassemble the valve, replace the cover and test by working the zone at the
- If the valve continues to fail, replace it.
If you see large amounts of water, soggy areas or flooding:
Check for the following -
- Watering schedule (timer settings) - it may be as simple as shortening the
- Broken heads
- Stuck zone valves
- Broken main or lateral lines
- Repair or replace parts necessary.
If timer operates but no water comes out:
- Check the main shut-off valves to be sure they are open
- Test the rain sensor and override if necessary.
If you are still having problems, please contact Horizon or your NJ State
licensed irrigation professional.
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When is the best time to winterize my sprinkler system?
The weather conditions each year will determine the best time to winterize
your sprinkler system. Although most of the system is underground and protected
until the ground freezes, external parts like the backflow preventor and
blow-out port can freeze from cold overnight temperatures. You will want to keep
your system running as long as possible if you have new tree or shrub plantings
or have done a fall seeding. The "safe" period in our area runs between October
15 and November 30. You should winterize as soon as you are sure you no longer
need continual watering.
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How do I winterize my sprinkler system?
We do not recommend winterizing your own sprinkler system unless you are
completely familiar with all shut-off valves, backflow device, blow-out ports,
extra lines or faucets, or any other unique features that were installed onto
- You must have an adequate sized compressor - minimum 2hp or 12 cfm
@40ps. is recommended. If your system was properly installed, the design should
be straightforward and easy to winterize.
- Please refer to the diagram, "Backflow Device ."
- Turn off the main sprinkler shut-off valve in basement.
- Connect an air compressor (minimum 2 hp compressor or 12 cfm @ 40ps.
recommended) to the sprinkler blowout port, which is usually just before the
backflow device outside.
- At the sprinkler timer, turn on one zone at a time until only "fog" comes out
of each sprinkler head.
- When finished with all zones, open the bleed ports on the backflow device
momentarily to empty all the water from it.
- Go through the entire system a second time. Turn off and disconnect the
- Close the blow-out port.
- Turn off the timer, but do not unplug it.
- KEEP IN MIND - older systems or those that were not installed according to
proper design standards may have more than one shut off and/or blow-out port. If
you have any doubts about your system, contact Horizon or your local licensed
irrigation professional to avoid costly freeze damage.
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