How To Cap Off A Sprinkler Head (In A Few Easy Steps)

Patricia Oelze
by Patricia Oelze

Sometimes you just do not need all those sprinkler heads in a specific area. Or maybe they are too close together and are overwatering your lawn in one spot. It could be an area that you just do not have anything to water. So, in this case, it’d be a great idea to cap off the sprinkler head, but how do you do that/

In order to cap off the sprinkler head, you will need to have the necessary tools. Once you have the right tools, you will need to turn off the water, find the end of the line, and then dig the dirt away from the head you want to cap off. After that, you will need to remove the head, install the cap, and make sure it’s working before replacing the sprinkler head.

While you are working on the sprinkler system, make sure there are no leaks or other issues. A leaky sprinkler head or pipe can cost you hundreds of gallons of water per day. And that means it may be costing you hundreds of dollars per year. In this article, we will you through the steps necessary to install a cap to your sprinkler head.

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Start With The Right Tools

The first thing you need to do is find a cap that is compatible with your sprinkler system. Many systems have caps or plugs with them, and you should still have them lying around somewhere. However, if you cannot find it or do not have one, you can buy one at a hardware store.

You may also need pliers if the sprinkler head is hard to get off. Also, have some Teflon tape to apply to the threads to create a good seal. You do not want to have a leak. Teflon tape is the same thing as plumber’s tape, in case you were not sure.

Step 1: Turn Off The Water

Do not forget to turn the water off before beginning. You do not want to be working on the line when the sprinkler kicks on. The shutoff for your sprinkler system should be located on the side of your house near your main water shutoff. Make sure it’s all the way in the off position before continuing the process.

Step 2: Find The End Of The Line

You need to know where the dead-end is, so you do not cap off the last one in the line. If you cap off the end of the line, it leaves the water nowhere to go, so that the water pressure will suffer.

Another reason you do not want to cap off the dead-end is that it can freeze. The water left in that space that is capped off has no place to go, and during the winter, it may freeze and break the line. What you can do is dry the hose and then wrap some red plumbers tape around it s that you remember that’s the dead end. Or mark it however you want.

Step 3: Dig Away The Dirt

Use a small garden trowel or shovel to dig the dirt away from the sprinkler head you want to cap off. Dig about one to two inches of space around the sprinkler head so you can get to it.

Leave the dirt to the side so you can easily pack it back into place when you are done. However, make sure you do not let any of the dirt get into the system after you remove the sprinkler head. It would be a good idea to have a bucket you can put the dirt in so that you can keep it separated from the sprinkler head. Also, you can easily dump it back into place rather than scrape it.

Step 4: Remove The Sprinkler Head

Removing the sprinkler head is not difficult. You should be able to take it off by hand. But if it is too tight, you may need to get a pair of pliers to remove it instead. Just be careful not to break it.

If you spot you need to cap off is at the end of the line, you can fix that problem too. Use PVC cutters to cut the line just past the sprinkler head at the end. Leave space for the cap to go onto the end of the pipe.

Clean the pipe with PVC primer and wait for it to dry. After it is dry, use PVC cement on the end of the line and inside of the cap. Twist the cap on the end of the line quickly before the adhesive has time to dry.

Step 5: Install The Cap

Before installing, clean the threads of the riser and apply Teflon tape. Wrap it around about two or three times. This helps make a good seal, so your cap does not leak. To install the cap, just tighten it on nice and snug. You do not need to use the pliers to tighten it.

However, you don’t want to overly-tighten it; otherwise, this will end up cracking the cap. Make sure it’s snug enough to where it’s on there good and tight, but you shouldn’t use pliers to make it tighter. Using your hand is perfectly acceptable for the tightness the cap needs to be.

Step 6: Test The Seal

You will need to make sure the cap is sealed, so it does not leak or let dirt into the lines. Turn on the sprinkler for a few minutes to make sure no water comes out at all. Then turn the water back off while you replace the dirt over the sprinkler head. Don’t forget to turn the water to the sprinkler back on when you are finished. Otherwise, the sprinkler is not going to work.

Other Sprinkler Head Issues

What if you have a leaky sprinkler head or pipe? Or what if one or more of your sprinkler heads is not spraying out water? You could even have a sprinkler head that does not pop up anymore. Your lawnmower may have damaged one of them. There are easy solutions to these problems too.

  • Leaking Lines

It should not be hard to find the leak since the dirt around the area will be wet. If you find a wet spot in your lawn where there is no sprinkler head, you probably have a leak.

Dig up the area carefully, making sure not to damage the line further. Figure out where the leak is and cover it with Teflon tape or sealer. If the leak is bad, you may have to cut the line and replace it.

  • Clogged Sprinkler Heads

If one of your sprinkler heads is not shooting water out anymore, you will need to dig it up and clean it out or replace it. Typically, it is just a matter of washing off some dirt or unpacking it. Take the head off and rinse it off before replacing it on the riser.

  • Broken Sprinkler Head

A broken sprinkler head is easy to fix. The tricky part may be finding the right sprinkler head to buy. You need to know the manufacturer of the sprinkler system to get the right one.

You also need to look at the nozzle to make sure you get the right size for that too. If the head is too damaged, dig up one of your other sprinkler heads to get the information from.

Then just go to the hardware store and get a new head. Take the old one with you if you are not sure of the manufacturer. The hardware associates should be able to help you find what you need.

Replacing the head is simple, but make sure you wrap the threads with Teflon tape first so it will not leak. You do not want to have to dig it back up again in a few weeks to fix the leak.

  • Kinked lines

If you run your lines underground, you may want to dig them up to check them as well. Sometimes the lines are kinked because the sprinkler system lines have been buried too deep in the ground. The soil’s weight ends up kinking the hose, making it impossible for the water to get through.

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Routine Maintenance Is Important

Just like any other product, you should always do routine maintenance to keep it working correctly. Every six months or so, check along the entire line for leaks or blockages. You do not have to dig it up to prevent it.

Just walk along the sprinkler line after it has just run and look for puddles or areas that are drier than others. You should also take some time to walk along with your system while running so you can see how it is working.

If any of the sprinkler heads is shooting in the wrong direction or has a weak spray, you need to check that one out. Shut off the water, dig around the head, and check for clogs or leaks. Preventive maintenance can save you money in the long run.

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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