There are many small service issues you can take care of yourself or stop gaps you can do that allow you to continue to utilize your system until you can get a qualified technician on site. Here are some of the most common questions:
What time of day should I water?
Ideally you should water in the early morning hours. Your lawn will get the most out of the water you put down if your watering cycle is completed near sunrise. Watering in the evenings, particularly when the humidity is high, greatly increases the chance of your yard developing fungus.
How much time should I water on each zone?
Over watering is often a bigger problem than underwatering. Typically, the mist zones need to run half as much time as the big (rotor) zones (for example set 10 minutes per zone on the mist heads if you have 20 minutes per zone on the rotors), depending on nozzle size, soil and weather conditions. On average drip zones water 9/10 of a gallon of water per plant, per hour. Be very cautious of overwatering with your drip irrigation they should be run a short amount of time — approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
I have a clogged mist head- How do I clean it?
If your mist head is spraying in an abnormal pattern it is likely clogged. With the zone running, pull up the stem of the mist head. Have someone else turn the water off. Still holding the stem, remove the nozzle, which is the top inch of the stem. Remove the screen inside and rinse it with water, it is often helpful to flush the whole head out by turning on the water with the nozzle off and screen removed. Replace screen and nozzle and allow head to retract.
The system has a broken head – Can I still water?
Yes, you can. Watering on the zone with the broken head will waste water, but you can shut off that zone and allow the rest of the system to water until a service technician can replace the head. Simply turn the time on the zone with the broken head to 0 minutes.
The controller is “Off”, but the system is still running!
If the controller is turned to the “off” position and your sprinkler is still operating, a valve on the system has failed. You need to turn the water off to the system and contact the office for a service appointment.. You can do this at the backflow device outside the house or at the sprinkler shut-off valve in your basement. If this is the first time your sprinkler has run for the season it may just have debris in the valve. Often turning the water off then back on will flush the debris. Try that before you call for service. It may also just be that the knob is not fully clicked into the OFF position. Wiggle the button or click away and back to see if that engages the off button.
The controller is operating, but the sprinkler is not –
When your clock is counting down, but no water is coming out the heads, there are a couple things that could be happening. First: check to ensure the water is ON to the system. Be sure it is turned on in the basement and both valve handles on the backflow device are open as well (going with the pipe). Check the valve boxes to be sure the drain valves are closed. If the water is on everywhere, you likely have a wiring problem and need to set up a service appointment.
My controller is not functioning
Typically this indicates there is some sort of electrical problem (wiring, fuse, etc.) Check to ensure the outlet the controller is plugged into is operational. Try another electronic device in the outlet or try the controller in another outlet. If the outlet is a GFI plug, check the reset button. Newer controllers have computer components that may need to be rebooted after a power surge. Unplug for 10 minutes to reset. If none of these restore operation, you will need to set up a service appointment. If you have a controller more than 10 years old, it is likely time for an replacement.
My controller says “PWR OFF” or No AC
This error message indicates an electrical problem (wiring, fuse, etc.) The controller battery is operational, but it is not receiving power from the AC plug. Check to ensure the outlet the controller is plugged into is operational. Try another electronic device in the outlet or try the controller in another plug. If the outlet is a GFI plug, check the reset button. If this doesn’t restore operation, you will need to set up a service appointment. If the plug itself is not putting out power, you will need to contact an electrician.
The backflow device on the side of my house is leaking
A couple of things could be going on here. If your sprinkler was winterized late in the season or improperly, the interior of your device may be broken. However, check the following: Did you turn the bleed screws so the slots are going the opposite direction as the pipe? If you have just started your sprinkler you may have turned the water on too quickly to allow the disc inside the backflow device to seal. Turn off the upper ball valve (the downstream one) then turn the water on in the basement SLOWLY. It is not unusual for the backflow to leak a little when you are first turning the water back on. If the bleed screws are turned and the resealing attempt does not work please contact the office for service.
We had a power surge, now my controller is watering at odd times
Your controller can get a little confused with an abrupt change in power. Unplug your controller, open the face and remove the back-up battery (if applicable). Allow the controller unit to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Replace the battery and plug the controller in. The controller time and watering times will need to be reset. The controller will automatically default to 10 minutes a zone, 3 days a week. If you have had a lightning strike very near or at your residence/office, and this doesn’t reset your controller, it will likely need to be replaced. *If you have an ESP Modular controller there is a RESET button located behind the face. Press and hold the reset button for three seconds. Close the face and reprogram your controller.
One head is leaking all the time
This issue is likely the valve for that zone and not actually the head. If this is the first time your sprinkler has run for the season it may just have debris in the valve. Turning the water off then back on can flush the debris. Try that before you call for service. This is a very common problem early in the season. If flushing the valve doesn’t do the trick, the diaphragm may need either cleaned or replaced entirely.
Adjusting Rain Bird 5004 Rotor?
Our most commonly used rotor for both commercial and residential applications. Most of the adjustments on this head can be done right from the top with a simple flat head screwdriver. Full instructions are available from Rain Bird :
5004 Rotor Instructions
Adjusting Rain Bird 1800 Mist Heads
The Rain Bird 1800 mist head is used in smaller grassy areas and in flowerbeds and shrubs. Full instructions are available from Rain Bird : 1804 Spray Head Instructions
Adjusting Rain Bird 3500 Rotor
The Rain Bird 3500 Series Rotor is a short range rotor that can water up to 360 degrees. Full instructions are available from the manufacturer:
3500 Rotor Instructions
Adjusting the Maxi-Paw Impact Rotor
This big guy has been around forever. The Maxi-Paw is best known for its distinctive Ch-Ch-Ch sound when in operation. Most often the Maxi is misbehaving because it is full of debris. Cleaning out any leaves, rocks and dirt from the interior casing will eliminate this issue. On of the drawbacks of the Maxi is that is does require a special tool for service and it is a little more complex. Full instructions are available here:
The T-Bird Rotor
The predecessor to the 5004 Rotor. This one is no longer available to purchase but there are still many in use. Replacement parts are no longer available, but if yours is working and needs some tweaks, follow this link:
Adjusting your T-Bird
If your controller was installed in the last 5 years this is likely what you have. There are two models with the same name. The newer one is WiFi compatible, the older is not. There is a clear WiFi symbol that says “LNK READY” on the front of the newer models.
This WiFi compatible controller comes set in specific numbers of zones rather than being expandable. The TM comes in 2, 4, 8, 6 & 12 zone models. The basics of operation are the same.
The Si controllers came zone specific, so your model will be 4Si, 6Si or 8si. The operation is pretty much the same across models.
ESP-Mi Modular Controller
There are a lot of these still in use. The Mi controller is easily identified by the magenta and blue interface. If your buttons are sticky and you are getting frequent malfunctions, it is time to think of upgrading. T
ESP-MI MODULAR MANUAL
ESP-LX Modular Controller
This controller is frequently used in commercial settings due to the complexity of programming available. This controller has been discontinued by Rain Bird.
ESP-LX MODULAR MANUAL
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