When Should I Turn On My Sprinkler System? (Find Out Now!)

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

If one thing is for sure, it’s that the weather is never certain. Just because it’s springtime doesn’t mean that you should start watering your yard. Use this as a guide to determine the best time to turn on your sprinkler system.

Wait to turn on your sprinkler system until after the last freeze. This is typically around the beginning of May, but each region’s climate will vary. If you turn it on too early, water sitting in the pipes can freeze and expand, which will crack the pipe.

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When To Turn On Your Sprinkler System

When to turn on your sprinkler system is highly dependent on the climate in the area you live in. If you live in a colder area, this should be after your last freeze, generally between April-May. If you live in a warmer area, like Florida or Arizona, you may not have to turn your sprinklers off at all.

As a homeowner, you always want to make sure to turn off your sprinkler system during the winter. During the coldest months of the year, your lawn and plants will be dormant, so a sprinkler system isn’t necessary. When spring comes back around you’ll want to turn it back on, but you shouldn’t do this at the first sign of spring.

What Happens If You Turn On The Sprinkler System Early?

If you get a late freeze, or if there’s a cold night or two, the ground will still be very cold. If you turn on your sprinkler system too early in the spring, you run the risk of your backflow preventer freezing. Once the heat of summer warms up the ground, it’s safe to let your sprinkler system run.

If you live in an area where the climate is not consistent, make sure you take precautions with your sprinkler. If you think the temperatures may fall below freezing, you can cover your backflow with an insulated cover. If you don’t have an insulated cover, you can wrap your backflow with towels and cover it with a plastic bag.

Steps To Take When Turning On Your Sprinkler System

It’s important to become familiar with your sprinkler system so you can easily turn it on when spring comes around.

Follow these steps below to safely and efficiently turn your sprinkler system back on.

Step 1: Slowly Turn The Water On

Turning your irrigation system on slowly is very important, especially if it’s been a while since it’s been on. Sprinkler systems experience a phenomenon called “water hammer” if you turn them on too quickly after being off for a long time. This high-pressure surge can cause the sprinkler head to pop off or the fittings to burst.

Step 2: Locate The Shut Off Valves

There are several valves involved in your sprinkler system: the stop valve and waste valve. There are also high-pressure breakers that you can find above the ground. After winter, you will need to turn these back on, so it’s essential to know where they are.

Step 3: Turn On The Valves

Your stop and waste valves should have a meter key to turn them back on. If you notice a slight leak after turning it on, don’t fret, this is typical and should stop soon.

The pressure vacuum breakers have two ball valves on either side of the vacuum breaker valve. Turn each valve slowly (avoiding water hammer), twist about a quarter turn to open. When the valves are perpendicular (horizontal), the water is off, and parallel (vertical) they are on.

Step 4: Check Each Individual Sprinkler Valve

It is important to check both valves and remove the sprinkler head before you turn on the valves. You should also check to see if there are any leaks in the sprinkler lines.

Step 5: Check Each Sprinkler Station And Set The Timer

Each year you should inspect every sprinkler station to make sure there are no damaged links or sprinkler heads. If you want to change the spray patterns for your sprinklers, this is a great time to switch them. After checking valves, turning the water on, and inspecting the stations, you are good to set your watering timer.

Other Common Sprinkler System Issues

Sprinkler systems commonly malfunction and appear to be shot entirely. Unbeknownst to the owner, many of these system failures are simple fixes that you can do in the home.

Water Is Leaking From Multiple Zones

Have you noticed an unusually high water bill after turning your sprinklers back on? This increase could be a sign of a leak in your sprinkler system. This problem is not an issue you should ignore, as a minor leak can quickly turn into an expensive fix.

In order to identify the leaking areas, you should check your sprinkler zones. Each valve controls which zone the water flows to by a diaphragm seal. A diaphragm seal uses a magnetic solenoid that controls the internal vacuum pressure.

If there are constant leaks from specific zones, there are a few possible reasons why. You could have a broken valve diaphragm, a valve block, or an incorrect installation that prevents a complete seal.

Buzzing Pump

If you hear your pump buzzing, seek assistance immediately. This indicates a problem with the relay system, a magnetic switch that turns your sprinkler system on. If your relay system isn’t working, then your sprinkler head isn’t working.

Poor Water Pressure

One simple issue people can misconstrue as a major issue is poor water pressure. Poor water pressure can come from broken pipes, malfunctioning hardware, a poorly designed system, or a pipe blockage. These are the most common causes of poor water pressure and, therefore, lousy lawn coverage.

Clogged Sprinkler Heads

A clogged sprinkler head is a super simple fix and is a common cause of malfunctioning sprinklers. To remedy this issue, you can either clean or replace your sprinkler heads.

Do You Need to Hire a Sprinkler System Contractor?

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Related Questions

What’s the average cost to install a sprinkler system?

The cost of installing a sprinkler system depends entirely on the size of your yard. That said, the  cost to install a system ranges between $500-$4,600, averaging out to $2,429 per yard.

Are sprinkler systems ethical in our current water crisis?

With only 3% of clean water on the earth, watering your lawn has become an ethical issue. Many areas of the country have introduced water restrictions to help conserve what water they do have left. You’d think that lawn care should be the first to go during a water crisis, but nothing is that simple.Some areas of California have exceeded water-saving expectations but now face an entirely different issue: dead soil. The micro-ecosystems that inhabit lawns are now dying off, leaving dead soil, which causes less oxygen, insects, and soil ecology. This is a significant issue in the long run, from floods to famine.Lack of water to soil causes it to compact and allows less water to permeate it. This can cause massive flooding if drought-ridden areas face rainy weather. The most critical and dangerous effect of dead soil is the death of ecosystems. Each living thing has a vitally important role in our survival, even ones we wish we didn’t have (mosquitos, anyone)? If insects go extinct, nitrogen build-up will choke plant life, which inevitably leads to the demise of humanity.

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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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