Are Sprinkler Heads Interchangeable? (Yes! Here's How To Do It)

Patricia Oelze
by Patricia Oelze

If one of your sprinkler heads is not working anymore or you just need the sprinkler pattern to change, you may be considering changing the head. But can you switch them with a different style sprinkler head or even a different brand? Before you go and buy the wrong thing, make sure you know what you need.

Yes, in most cases, you can change your sprinkler head with a different style or brand. You just have to be sure the threading type is the same. Some have female threads while others have male threads. As long as the threads match up, you can get whichever one you like.

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Reasons for a New Sprinkler Head

There are many reasons to change your sprinkler head. It does not have to be broken. Some of the other reasons you may need a new sprinkler head include:


Some leakage between the sprinkler riser and the cap is normal during the rising process. However, if there is an extreme amount of blow-by or if it keeps leaking after the sprinkler head is all the way extended, you should replace it. But first, try pulling it up with your hand and hold it there. If that does not work, go ahead and get a new one.

Not High Enough

If your sprinkler heads are not high enough, they cannot get water out to the surrounding grass and plants. This means some plants are not getting water while others are getting flooded. Get a new sprinkler head and make sure it is set at the right level to get to the areas it is supposed to cover.

The Rotator is Not Rotating Anymore

If you have rotator sprinkler heads that have stopped rotating, you should check to see if they have good water pressure. It may also be that it is clogged with dirt. If cleaning does not work, you should get a new one.

Changing Your Landscaping

If you are changing your landscaping, you may not need the type of sprinkler heads that are in the area you are changing. For example, if you are starting a new garden in an area where there was just grass before, you may need to change to a type of head that will accommodate your garden. There are two types of sprinkler heads.

Sprinkler Head TypeWhat It Is Used For
Spray HeadsThis type is a fixed spray that shoots out a steady spray of water over a certain area like a shower nozzle.
Rotor HeadsRotor heads shoot water out in a rotating pattern. It may shoot out short bursts of water while turning back and forth or send streams of water out while rotating around the landscape.

How to Change Your Sprinkler Head

If you know you need to change the sprinkler head, make sure you have the correct type of sprinkler head you need before you start. Check the threads so you know it will fit the one you need. Then turn the water and power off to the sprinkler system.

Step One: Getting to the Sprinkler Head Assembly

Use a trowel or serrated knife to cut a circle around the sprinkler about eight inches around and two inches deep. Try to only cut the layer of grass and not the dirt so you can replace it later.

Important: Do not cut too deep or you could accidentally cut the tubing running to the sprinkler head.

Step Two: Removing the Top Layer

Using your trowel or even a spatula, pry up the grass and try to keep it in one piece. The fewer pieces you have, the easier it will be to put it back when you are done. Set the piece of turf to the side for later.

Step Three: Digging Up the Sprinkler Head Body

Use your trowel to carefully scoop the dirt around the sprinkler head. While you dig, place the dirt in a pile next to the hole so you can push it back in afterward. Keep digging until you see the water supply pipe.

Step Four: Taking Out the Old One

Turn the sprinkler head counterclockwise to remove it from the riser. Leave the riser in place. If the riser comes out with the head, just unscrew it and screw it back onto the waterline. Flush the water line to remove any dirt that may have gotten inside.

Tip: Cover the waterline with a cloth to keep the dirt out of it while you are working.

Step Five: Wrap it Up

Wrap Teflon tape around the male end of the riser, being sure it is thin and has no wrinkles. This is to help make a tighter connection to prevent leaks.

Step Six: Screwing it On

Turn the sprinkler head clockwise (to the right) to attach it to the riser. Do not use a wrench but make sure it is tightened all the way by hand. Wiggle it to see if it is loose. If so, take it off and rethread it.

Step Seven: Making Your Adjustments

Adjust the nozzle on the sprinkler head to get the spray pattern as you need it. If it is pointing in the wrong direction, turn it a bit. Also, make sure it is set high enough above the grass to spray where it needs to go.

Step Eight: Checking Your Work

You should always check your work before you do anything else. You do not want to have to dig everything back up again if you notice it leaking later. Check for leaks and make sure it sprays where it needs to spray.

Step Nine: Fill It Back Up

If everything is working right, go ahead and fill the hole back in. Carefully replace the turf on top and water it to help the roots get reestablished.

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Related Questions

What if the Sprinkler Head Does Not Work?

If the sprinkler does not work and you have flushed the water line successfully, you probably got a bad head. Take it back to get a new one and try again. If the new one does not work either, you may have trouble in the line somewhere. Call the manufacturer or lawn company.

Why is My Sprinkler Head Running After It Shuts Off?

If the sprinkler head continues to leak water after it goes back in, it may be a bad diaphragm valve. This is not too difficult to fix.

  • Make sure the water and power are shut off
  • Remove the valve box
  • Unscrew and take out the solenoid
  • Use a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the bonnet
  • Take off the steel ring around it
  • Remove the diaphragm valve gasket and spring
  • Put the new diaphragm valve into the solenoid valve
  • Make sure you put everything back together right
  • Do not forget to put the steel ring back on and tighten the screws
  • Put the valve back into the sprinkler
  • Turn the water and power back on and check that it works

Do They Make Extensions for Sprinkler Heads That Are Too Low?

If your sprinkler head is still not coming up high enough, they do sell extensions to make the head pop up higher. Check online or at your local hardware store for a sprinkler head extension. You should find it in the garden section. If not, ask an employee where it is located.

Patricia Oelze
Patricia Oelze

I am a DIYer who loves writing about anything home-related. When I am not writing, you can find me studying for my PhD in Psychology, photographing nature, and swimming at the lake with my grandkids.

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