Rain Bird Maxi Paw Sprinkler Won't Rotate? (Possible Causes & Fixes)

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall
Sprinkler systems enhance homeowner’s lives each and every day. In fact, sprinkler systems, such as the Rain Bird Maxi Paw system, allow people to water their grass or flowers when asleep or at work. But, every now and then, the Rain Bird may not work as intended. The problem is often due to a faulty head, so follow along as we explore simple solutions.

Automatic irrigation and sprinkler systems are extremely convenient, but like most things, they can develop issues over time. A common problem is that the sprinkler head won’t rotate. If this happens, you should repair it immediately to prevent future complications.

If your Rain Bird Maxi Paw doesn’t rotate, you most likely have an issue with the sprinkler head. The sprinkler head could be filled with debris, have water pressure issues, or the trip point may be malfunctioning.

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What Is a Rain Bird Maxi Paw?

A Rain Bird Maxi Paw is an impact sprinkler system. When operating normally, the sprinkler head begins at one side of its arc and then widens to your specifications. It may rotate 90 degrees or 180 degrees.

As it rotates through the angle of its arc, it forcefully releases water. It then stops at the other side and returns along the same path. You typically place sprinklers between 8 and 65 feet apart.

Types of Sprinkler Heads

Traditionally, sprinkler heads are grouped into two types based on their method of distributing the water. There are spray-type sprinklers and rotor-type sprinklers. However, there’s now a combination of the two known as rotary nozzle and rotator sprinklers.

Spray Sprinkler Head

Spray head sprinklers, or fixed spray heads, are small heads that spray water in a fan-shape, similar to a shower nozzle. These sprinklers typically use interchangeable nozzles that determine the pattern, like half-circle or full-circle, and the radius of the water reach. These spray heads are spaced up to 18 feet apart.

The water spray is limited because of the distance between the sprinkler heads. These sprinklers need between 20 and 30 PSI of water pressure to operate properly.

Rotor Sprinkler Head

Rotor describes the various sprinklers that operate by rotating streams of water back and forth. An impact rotor sprinkler, or rainbird, is most common when referring to this type of sprinkler. Rotor heads move back and forth, firing bursts of water.

You can space rotors 8 to 65 feet apart. Traditional rotors with spacing over 20 feet apart require more water pressure. If you want to space rotors 35 feet apart, you need 35 PSI of pressure at the sprinkler head.

Rotary Nozzle and Rotator Sprinkler Heads

These new types of miniature rotors have become extremely popular in recent years. They are often called rotary nozzles or rotator nozzles and classified as spray heads by most manufacturers.

They have a small rotor that is the same size as a standard nozzle of a spray-type sprinkler. Because of their size, they can fit onto smaller and less expensive spray head pop-up bodies. They are more efficient than traditional spray heads because they produce less mist that evaporates before reaching the ground.

These sprinkler heads are often used in place of standard spray heads by water conservation agencies. They typically can be placed between 15 and 35 feet apart, but it depends on the model.

Reasons Why Your Rain Bird Sprinkler Won’t Rotate

Most people recognize the characteristic back and forth motion of impact head sprinklers.

If your Rain Bird Sprinkler won’t rotate, here are the possible reasons why.

Problems with Water Pressure

If the water pressure is too low or too high, your sprinkler head could become jammed. If the water pressure lowers below an acceptable limit, the sprinkler may get stuck at one side of the arc. It may also prevent the sprinkler from moving at all.

If the water pressure is too high, the sprinkler can stop or jam. When the sprinkler moves through the cycle too quickly, it’s a sign the pressure may be too high.

Turn the pressure down, then check all lines for leaks. Check the sprinkler heads with a pressure gauge; the ideal pressure should be around 50 PSI.

Debris Build Up

If too much debris builds up in the sprinkler head, it can cause blocking and jamming of the rotary function. Debris can come from outside of the sprinkler head or from water deposit buildup. Remove the sprinkler head, gently dislodge the debris with your fingers, and then wash the head in vinegar and water.

Trip Point Issues

Impact sprinklers use trip points located at both the left and right sides of the sprinkler. When the head reaches one side of the other, a trip point activates, letting the head know to reverse direction. If the trip points are improperly set, or a spring is damaged, the mechanism will not function correctly.

How to Troubleshoot a Rain Bird Sprinkler

A Rain Bird Sprinkler is supposed to cover the entire yard without overlapping sprays that could lead to overwatering. If you notice that your Rain Bird system isn’t spraying in the right area, you should troubleshoot it.

Step 1: Align the Trip Points

First, align the trip points so that the sprinkler knows when to stop when it rotates left and right. If the sprinkler head is water too far or not far enough, you may need to reset the left trip point. The left trip point is where the sprinkler starts each rotation.

First, pull up the turret and rotate it to the left trip point. If it doesn’t turn easily, you can try rotating it right first. If that doesn’t work, remove the cap, pull the assembly out of the case, set the left trip point, and reinsert.

Step 2: Adjust the Arc

If you reset the left trip point and still don’t get the desired arc, try to adjust it. Once you’ve aligned the trip point, you should be able to adjust the arc and radius using a flathead screwdriver. Hold the assembly to the far left point, then use the screwdriver to add or remove the arc.

Turn the screwdriver clockwise to increase the arc and counterclockwise to reduce it. This sets the right trip point where the sprinkler stops and turns in the other direction.

Step 3: Adjust the Nozzles

Rain Bird’s design helps eliminate runoff problems, but sometimes you may have to adjust the nozzles. To adjust the flow from the nozzles, turn off the water and use a flat-head screwdriver. Use the screwdriver to turn the head’s flow shutoff slot 180 degrees clockwise.

When you’re ready to turn the nozzle back on, rotate it counterclockwise 180 degrees.

Step 4: Replace Damaged Sprinkler Heads

If you notice damage to the sprinkler heads, you should replace them. Consider stainless steel sprinkler heads to eliminate any future damage if you have a high-traffic yard.

How to Adjust Sprinkler Head Direction

Pop-up sprinkler nozzles come in a variety of fan widths. If you want to change the direction of the fan, it is a simple task.

Follow the steps below to adjust the sprinkler head direction.

Step 1: Turn off the Water and Disable the Timer

Turn off the water to your sprinkler and disable the timer so that the water doesn’t come on while working.

Step 2: Raise the Sprinkler Head

Using pliers, grasp the elevated metal head in the middle of the nozzle and pull the sprinkler up. Lock the pliers around the base of the sprinkler and keep it raised while you’re working on it.

Step 3: Rotate the Nozzle to the Right

Rotate the nozzle until the mark on the nozzle head is at the limit of the area you want to be watered. On some nozzles that have a fixed spray pattern, there may be two marks. Move the nozzle so that the mark denoting the spray pattern’s right side is at the limit point.

Step 4: Turn the Nozzle Counterclockwise

If there is only one mark, hold the sprinkler base and turn the nozzle counterclockwise. Stop when the mark is at the left-hand limit of the area you want to spray.

Step 5: Release the Sprinkler

Release the pliers and let the sprinkler drop.

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Related Questions

What is the proper way to maintain a sprinkler system?

To properly maintain your sprinkler system, you should take a look at it at least twice a season. At the beginning of the season, check the irrigation system. Check on it again in the middle of the season. If you can, try to give the irrigation system a quick check-up every month. Look at the controller to ensure it’s plugged in and functional. You can also correct any date or time issues and replace the backup battery when necessary. Ensure that you connect the wires and sensors and alter the schedule for the current needs of the season. You should alter the schedule depending upon your landscape, as well. During your check-up, make sure to turn on each individual sprinkler zone separately to check for system damage.

What is the average cost to install a sprinkler system?

If you decide to add a sprinkler system to your yard, you can expect to pay about $2,500 for the system. At the lower end, the system will cost $500. On the higher end, the system will cost $4,600. Many factors go into the cost, including system installation, permits, and hiring a contractor. You also have the option to take on the project by yourself. However, if you do decide to do it by yourself, you should have experience in plumbing and electricity.

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Stacy Randall
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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