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The Earth is the Lord's, and everything in it.

(Psalm 24)

Home arrow How Do I? arrow Maintenance of Your Irrigation System
Maintenance of Your Irrigation System

irrigation-main.jpg 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? PDF Print E-mail

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? PDF Print E-mail

If your sprinkler system was installed properly, turning it on in the spring is relatively easy.

Please refer to the diagram, "Backflow Device."


  1. Be sure the manual drain valve is closed. This valve is usually located below or before the backflow device outside your house.
  2. 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.
  3. Check the main line, valves, and backflow device for any sign of leakage. Repair breaks as needed.
  4. 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.
  5. Cut and clean any excess lawn or plant growth away from the sprinkler heads that would inhibit proper operation of the sprinkler head.
  6. 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 equipment.
  7. Be sure your sprinkler heads are at least an inch away from walks or curbing to insure that edgers do not hit them.
  8. 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 tools.
  9. 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.
  10. 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. Contact Horizon for service or your local NJ State licensed irrigation professional.

irrigation-hands.jpg 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? PDF Print E-mail

irrigation-rotaryhead.jpgChoose the brand rotary head you wish to adjust.

Hunter Ultra I20
Nelson 5500, 6000, 7000, & 7500 Series
RainBird T-Bird
RainBird 5000 Plus
Toro Super 600
Toro Super 700
Weathermatic Turbo 3

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Troubleshooting Instructions PDF Print E-mail

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 necessary.

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 if necessary.
  • Reassemble the valve, replace the cover and test by working the zone at the timer.
  • 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 watering time.
  • 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? PDF Print E-mail

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? PDF Print E-mail

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 your system.

  • 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 compressor.
  • 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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