How Do You Adjust Rain Bird Sprinkler Heads?

How Do You Adjust Rain Bird Sprinkler Heads

When it’s hot and dry and you haven’t had rain in weeks, it’s important to have working sprinklers. If your grass is turning brown, it’s a good sign that it’s time to water it! To do so effectively, you need to know how to properly adjust your sprinkler heads. 

You can adjust your Rain Bird sprinkler head’s direction, distance, and pattern. To adjust the watering direction, you can rotate the spray head by hand. To adjust the spray distance up to 25%, use a small flathead screwdriver to turn the center screw of the spray head clockwise. To adjust the spray pattern, twist the spray head’s collar left or right. The collar is adjustable from 0 to 360 degrees, but this is only available in certain models. 

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How to Change the Nozzle on Your Rain Bird Sprinkler

You can change the nozzle of your sprinkler in these three easy steps:

Step 1

First, remove the old nozzle from your sprinkler. 

Step 2

Remove the old filter screen and replace it with a new one. 

Step 3

Finally, thread in a new nozzle and turn to the right to tighten. 

How to Troubleshoot Your Sprinkler Head

There are a few common problems you may encounter with your sprinkler heads, but don’t worry! There are a series of easy fixes to get your sprinkler as right as rain. 

  • Your spray head is spraying at a shorter distance than desired —  If the water isn’t reaching as far as you wanted, you may need to clean the filter or the nozzle. If you have a large number of sprinklers in one area, this may be decreasing the power of individual ones. Simply remove a few sprinklers to see if this fixes the problem. If neither solution works, you may need to replace your current sprinkler head with a larger radius model.
  • The sprinkler head is not popping up all the way for use — Simply clean your sprinkler head’s cap. If this doesn’t work, you will need to replace it.
  • Water is not being sprayed in the pattern you want — First, make sure you set it to the correct pattern. If you set it correctly and it still isn’t working, check the nozzle. There may be debris in the nozzle. If that is the case, remove it and flush it to get rid of debris. If that doesn’t do the trick, replace the nozzle.
  • The sprinkler head is dribbling, not spraying — Clean both the nozzle and the screen.
  • Water continues to seep out of the sprinkler after being turned off — The first way to ensure this no longer happens is to install a check valve. It’s also important to check the valve for dirt and debris and clean as needed. 

Types of Sprinkler Heads

There are two broad categories of sprinkler heads: spray heads and rotors. 

Spray Heads

Spray heads spray water in a fan-shape. Most have interchangeable nozzles that provide different spray options that allow you to spray in smaller or wider radii. 

Spray heads also give you the option to spray at different angles, rather than 360 degrees all of the time. Usually spaced only 18 feet apart, spray heads have limited capabilities due to the physics of water spray. 


Rotors rotate the stream of water over the selected area. Most rotors can be separated into impact rotor sprinklers and gear-driven rotors. Impact rotors fire bursts of water as they move back and forth, and are known for being rather loud. 

Gear-driven rotors have streams that move very quietly compared to their counterparts. They can be spaced anywhere from 8 to 65 feet apart. You should note that if you space them over 20 feet, you’ll require more water pressure to keep them functioning properly. 

There is also a mini-rotor gaining popularity known as a rotary/rotator nozzle. These small rotors are about the same size as spray heads. They can fit into the spray head bodies and are thus cheaper than installing larger rotors. 

They are more efficient than spray heads because they produce less mist waste. These models can shoot water anywhere between 15 and 35 feet.

What to Consider When Choosing a Sprinkler Type

  • Water pressure. If yours is less than 40 PSI, you should choose between a spray head and a rotary nozzle.
  • Size of the area. If the space you are watering is long and narrow, look into rotary nozzles. If the area is open and wide, rotors will probably be the best option.
  • Installation. You can take on this as a DIY project and save about $1,500. But, if it’s too daunting of a task, you might want to hire a professional. Just be aware that it’ll be significantly costlier than taking on the project yourself.
  • Cost. If installing rotors, you will need fewer pipes and trenches than needed for spray heads, but rotors cost more upfront. Spray heads require more pipes and trenches but are cheaper. The price ends up being fairly comparable between the two.
  • Whether you want metal or plastic sprinkler heads. Older models were usually made with metal because it was thought to be more durable. Now, most sprinkler heads are made with plastic. It’s a cheaper material but still performs just as well as metal models. 

Sprinkler Types Good for Pairing with Your System

Sometimes just having a rotor or a spray head doesn’t quite do the trick for your lawn. Never fear! You can pair your high-pressure sprinklers with low-pressure options for better irrigation. 

Drip emitters let out small amounts of water directly to plants and root systems. These can be paired with high-pressure sprinkler heads. A separate, pressure-reducing valve should be installed to control the drip emitters so the high pressure doesn’t make them burst. 

Bubblers flood small areas of the lawn and are typically used for shrubs and groundcovers. They can sometimes be used for areas in which a sprinkler would overspray. 

Bubblers aren’t suitable for the irrigation of the entire lawn and should be paired with other sprinklers. Bubblers come in adjustable and non-adjustable types. 

Adjustable bubblers can have varying levels of water released depending on how open the valve is. Non-adjustable bubblers produce a fixed rate of water.

Stream bubblers produce a stream of water that shoots about 2 to 5 feet from the bubbler. They are used to water larger areas and nearby planters.

Microbubblers are low-flow bubblers. Their flow is too low for them to be installed on the same valve circuit as spray heads or rotors. They can be attached to poly drip tubing and used for planters and containers. 

Related Questions

What is the best sprinkler type for my residential home?

For the average-sized residential lawn, spray heads work best. However, if you live in a rural area and have a very large lawn, rotors are the way to go. 

What are the pressure requirements for my sprinkler?

Spray heads and rotary nozzles work best at 30 PSI; above 45 PSI, sprinklers will create more mist waste. You can install a pressure regulator to ensure everything is working properly and increase your sprinkler system’s efficiency. 

Rotors need higher PSI than their counterparts; generally, the higher, the better. They do not work well with anything less than 30 PSI. The way to determine the best pressure level and distance between sprinklers is with a method dubbed Stryker’s Rotor Spacing Rule

What is Stryker’s Rotor Spacing Rule?

This rule basically states that the space between rotors can’t exceed the PSI level at the rotor. This means that if your sprinklers were placed 30 feet apart, they should have at least 30 PSI. Sprinkler websites suggest having about 5 additional PSI to make up for water waste in pipes. 

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Wrapping Up

There are several ways to adjust your Rain Bird sprinkler head. You can adjust the distance, direction, and pattern with just a few easy steps. Troubleshooting your sprinkler head is easy and usually involves cleaning or replacing pieces. 

There are many sprinkler types to choose from that’ll be sure to leave your lawn properly hydrated and looking beautiful! 

Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent’s former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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