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howardfine

join:2002-08-09
Saint Louis, MO

Sprinkler systems too much trouble?

My wife says she doesn't want to put an in-ground sprinkler system at our new house because they're more trouble than they're worth. That they always break down and you have to pay $150 to have someone come out every year to start them up and another $150 to shut them down in the winter. When it comes to these things, she's usually full of it so is there any truth to what she said?


chamberc
Premium
join:2008-08-05
Irving, TX
said by howardfine:

My wife says she doesn't want to put an in-ground sprinkler system at our new house because they're more trouble than they're worth. That they always break down and you have to pay $150 to have someone come out every year to start them up and another $150 to shut them down in the winter. When it comes to these things, she's usually full of it so is there any truth to what she said?

They're zero pressure, so why would you have to do anything more than turn them off in the winter?

I've had one for more than 2 decades and have had very few problems. Perhaps replace a few heads along the way, but they're less than $3!


Msradell
P.E.
Premium
join:2008-12-25
Louisville, KY

1 recommendation

reply to howardfine
They really don't require much maintenance and problems are very few. Your wife is correct that in a colder climate, you have to drain the system in the fall to prevent freezing. This is very simple and easy to do yourself, especially when the system is designed correctly. Even if you have to pay someone, the cost is less than half of what you wife estimates.


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to howardfine
In freezing zones, it's important to properly winterize the system...

If it's winterized properly in the fall, no need to do anything but turn the water on, and plug the controller back in, in the spring.

I have no idea what costs would be in your area, but $150 is about double what I'd pay to get my lines blown out in the fall (they use a large air compressor to blow water out of the lines...) and no start-up in the spring, I open the supply valve and plug in the controller myself...

nyrrule27

join:2007-12-06
Howell, NJ
reply to howardfine
i have 8 zones and a booster pump. its the best $2800 i spent. cost me $80 to open and $80 to close the system

bkjohnson
Premium
join:2002-05-22
Birmingham, AL
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to howardfine
I tend to agree with your wife. The house I live in now has one that is a few years old, and it is a maintenance headache. In fact, I've discontinued use of it. The situation might be different if I had installed it myself. I you do install one, I highly recommend that you make a detailed map of the installation and maybe take pictures as it is being put in. Also be sure to keep detailed records of the parts and valves used. Some other things to think about are being sure that there is an easily reachable manual valve shutoff valve and that sprinkler heads, valves, etc. are not placed too close to streets, driveways, etc. where cars might park on them. Whoever put my system in did not do that.

HarryH3
Premium
join:2005-02-21
kudos:3
reply to howardfine
Check out this thread: »Lawn Sprinklers


BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
reply to howardfine
Think it depends on how the job is done; I installed my own 4 or 5 years ago, 6 zones, never had any problems.


howardfine

join:2002-08-09
Saint Louis, MO
reply to HarryH3
Thanks for the link. With that, and the fact that a landscaper just told me it would cost $4-5K to cover my lawn, I'm not going to do it.


leibold
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-09
Sunnyvale, CA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
reply to howardfine
With a quality install they will work fine for many years. I installed mine myself (with a buddy for that extra pair of hands) and made sure to get quality components. That increase in materials cost pays itself back in less maintenance over the years. For example for PVC pipe use Schedule 40 (thick walled) instead of Class 125 (very fragile, but popular because of its low cost).

Besides the already mentioned "blow out" of any remaining water at the end of the season it is also possible to install drain valves (manual or automatic) at the low points in the system.

Regardless of your choice, properly planning the layout of your sprinkler pipes (and there slopes!) can make winterizing easier (ideally there is only a single low spot in each zone).
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nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·Charter
·voip.ms
·surpasshosting
reply to howardfine
They are a PITA. I had one at my last house. There was always something breaking or broken.
I don't even bother to water the "grass" at this house. I've got better things to waste my money on.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.


PoloDude
Premium,VIP
join:2006-03-29
Northport, NY
kudos:3
reply to howardfine
I have a 5 zone system. 21 (?) heads. I have had to replace a few heads and fix the main controller cable. The system is about 10 years old. Normal cost is just having the lines blown out in the fall. About $60.
So much better with a system than dragging around hoses.
--
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djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO
reply to howardfine
I couldn't tell you about winterizing as we don't do that here, but I love my sprinkler system. If you're even slightly handy they're easy to maintain. Replacement parts are cheap. Tweaking it for optimal irrigation can be fun.

Problems have been pretty rare for me. I keep a few extra parts around and I can usually fix just about anything in a few minutes. It's either a clog (no water) or something broken which results in a geyser .

Before having one I feared them, they seemed like they would require a lot of expertise. It's all pretty simple stuff. I probably wouldn't like it much if I didn't take the time to figure out how to adjust it myself.
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BillRoland
Premium
join:2001-01-21
Ocala, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
reply to leibold
said by leibold:

For example for PVC pipe use Schedule 40 (thick walled) instead of Class 125 (very fragile, but popular because of its low cost).

Bingo. That's exactly what I did. Can't cheap out on the pipe.

tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2
reply to howardfine
Is it easier for to her to water manually or easier for her to have you water manually?

I installed my own system. I used the thicker piping. I installed drains in the system I put in but the back yard does not have drains to my knowledge (it might). I use a small compressor to blow them out. It's really no where near the same as having it professionally done but it does blow a little water out so I figure it can't hurt. I've never had the pipe crack from freezing. I did just break a head and the riser a couple of days ago when mowing but this was because I installed the head too high up. If a system is installed correctly it's very little maintenance.

GusHerb94

join:2011-11-04
Chicago, IL
kudos:1
reply to howardfine
I installed a sprinkler system myself in the front yard when we ripped out all the rock and installed grass and a garden behind it against the house. The trick to having a reliable sprinkler system for years to come is all in the quality of the install! (Like just about any kind of system)

I used poly pipe and double clamped each fitting (even though our water pressure is a mere 45 PSI) The poly pipe is a little more freeze resistant then PVC. I blow the system out with an air compressor every fall (what the professionals do)

Anyway it's been 5 years and I haven't had to perform a single bit of maintenance besides clearing a couple clogged sprayheads every once in awhile! The rotors average lifespan is about 5-10 years and ours are starting to show their age though, so I will be planning a project to swap those out sometime. Perhaps I'll use RainBird this time!

Another thing to note, micro irrigation systems (for flower beds, gardens, etc) are usually pretty high maintenance. The flower bed area has one and I do have to perform yearly repairs on it, but I keep spare parts around for it. This year someone stepped on one of the distributor heads and broke it though, so I'll be having to replace that (It was probably me hahaha)

hurfy
Premium
join:2002-08-06
Spokane, WA
Reviews:
·Cutting Edge Com..
reply to howardfine
Next time i will only have heads in the corners on raised posts or something similar. We inherited a system with a dozen pop-up heads in the middle of the grass :/ They break too easy.

Flush for winter should be only $80 or so, I open/close the valves required to start back up. hmm, that reminds me....

AnonEEMouse

join:2013-02-27

1 recommendation

reply to howardfine
I installed my own and have no problem with it. It's all about the quality of the sprinklers, pipe used and a good installation.

I had a shallow well drilled because I did not want to use house water for three reasons, its expensive and not enough water pressure or water flow from a 3/4 inch meter (no reclaimed here). If you have reclaimed, its even easier.

I only have 3 zones for a large corner lot. 1 zone is popup sprays, the other two are large rotor zones. I used only commercial grade Toro sprinklers, not the consumer crap you get at HD/Lowes.

They key is getting the pipe deep enough that the sprinklers don't stick out above the grass at all and using flexible risers so you don't snap heads off when you are mowing or chop them up. Other than that, I really have no problem with the system, I've always been perplexed at how some people have so many problems.

I spent I think 1,200 on the system, plus $500 for having 6 shallow well points drilled and plumbed (I supplied the pump).

It's certainly something that can be done DIY if you plan it out, research and have the time to do it. I did it because I have no patience for watering with a hose and if you don't water here in Florida, you get a dead yard.

And I second that post about micro-irrigation, its a waste of time and money, I tried that before I put in my system in and it was a friggin nightmare. The heads would fly off if you touched them wrong, even with a filter they would get dirt in them and spray funky, or not water a bush enough and it would wilt while all the others were fine... just a complete nightmare.

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
reply to howardfine
I just started my system today and, as usual, I will have to service one head. It's usually service one or two on startup and another one sometime during the year. All in all, MUCH easier than screwing around with the hose day after day.


ilikeme
I live in a van down by the river.
Premium
join:2002-08-27
Sugar Land, TX
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Vonage
reply to howardfine
Here in Texas I have systems at my house in the Dallas area and my parents house in Houston. Both are extremely low maintenance. All I have had to do is occasionally replace a broken head due to it being damaged or clogged. That process takes less than 30 minutes, with digging the hole included.


ilikeme
I live in a van down by the river.
Premium
join:2002-08-27
Sugar Land, TX
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Vonage
reply to howardfine
said by howardfine:

Thanks for the link. With that, and the fact that a landscaper just told me it would cost $4-5K to cover my lawn, I'm not going to do it.

That seems awfully high unless you have an extremely large yard (like an acre.) Around here for an average size front and backyard combined it usually runs around $1500-2000, $3k if it is a larger yard. I would recommend getting a few quotes.
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mityfowl
Premium
join:2000-11-06
Dallas, TX
reply to howardfine
Different areas have different needs.

Here in Dallas we almost have to have a sprinkler system if you want things nice.

It would me an ass whip moving hoses in July and Aug.


howardfine

join:2002-08-09
Saint Louis, MO

1 recommendation

reply to ilikeme
We have at least a half acre. I'm fine with grass going dormant in the hot summer months.


stevek1949
We're not in Kansas anymore
Premium
join:2002-11-13
Virginia Beach, VA
reply to howardfine
I just added a female quick coupler for my air compressor, a couple of ball valves to isolate the pump, and used my air compressor to blow the lines out every winter. It cost about $20.00 to get the fittings and valves, about an hour to install and 10 minutes to winterize the entire system. Has been working for 20 years!

Occasional replacement of heads for less than a $1.00 each. No hoses to haul, buy, or store!

jsouth
Jsouth

join:2000-12-12
Wichita, KS
reply to howardfine
Can't forget about any costs from the municipal water dept. Unless you are on well water you could need an inspection each time it is turned on for the season and a backflow prevention checkup every 5 years.


Msradell
P.E.
Premium
join:2008-12-25
Louisville, KY
said by jsouth:

Can't forget about any costs from the municipal water dept. Unless you are on well water you could need an inspection each time it is turned on for the season and a backflow prevention checkup every 5 years.

Maybe that's the case in Wichita, but it's certainly not the case everywhere. I've lived 3 different places with sprinklers connected to municipal water and have never had to have any inspections past the 1 done at installation. I've also never had to have the backflow preventer rechecked. Maybe that's the case in some places, but certainly not all of them!


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
Click for full size
Click for full size
Look at Line M for testing requirements


Msradell
P.E.
Premium
join:2008-12-25
Louisville, KY
said by Jack_in_VA:

Look at Line M for testing requirements

? Your point is? In the 1st place, there is no indication where that document came from (other than Chesterfield County), so it doesn't mean much. Even if it was documented, who published it, it doesn't state how it is to be checked or who should do it. The standard above ground backflow preventers can easily be checked visually for operation and when it fails, it fails catastrophically. In very few areas is there an associated annual cost with backflow preventer inspections!

There's definitely no national standard of any kind for use, installation or inspection of backflip preventers.

robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
Just had a double check valve assembly tested which is installed on an Austin watering system. The test guy said that the city only requires certification at time of install. He recommends that they be tested every 3 to 5 years for piece of mind. Test cost $50.

Restaurants -- different story. They need a separate one on every device -- coffee maker, tea maker, soda fountain, etc. Was told that many restaurants have 7 or more and they each need to be certified every year.

Inspector is licensed by the state and the certifications are filed with both the state and city.

Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
reply to howardfine
if you are in city water also be prepared for an increased water bill just to have a green lawn.

I would say let it go dormant in periods of minimal rain. conserves fresh water that way.

Also even those on a well I think can be subject to city water use restrictions regarding irrigation.
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