Sprinkler & Irrigation Repair
Sprinklers/Sprinkler / Irrigation / Sprinkler Repair Contractors
A sprinkler is a device used for the distribution of water from plumbing pipes, by spraying it into the air. There are two types of sprinkler systems. One is an irrigation sprinklers system. The irrigation sprinkler system is for irrigation of lawns or crops. Another type of sprinkler system is fire sprinklers. Fire sprinkler systems are used for fire suppression within buildings and facilities. Many people have irrigation sprinklers installed on their property to add convenience to watering the lawn. Some sprinkler systems can even be put on a schedule to turn on and off as your please, making a beautiful lawn easy and simple.
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Installing a sprinkler or irrigation system for your lawn &/or garden is perhaps one of the few home improvement projects that actually makes your life much easier. Hand watering gardens, flower beds, or lawns-moving a lawn sprinkler attached to the hose every 20 minutes-is not most homeowners' idea of fun.
A sprinkler system automates this entire process while eliminating the concern of whether or not your yard is getting the proper amount of water it needs. Hand watering or using an oscillator, takes more time, wastes water, and leaves areas of your yard either over-watered or under-watered. And, generally speaking, only about 60% of the water you spray at your lawn actually does any good. A properly designed and installed sprinkler system addresses all these concerns.
Basic Sprinkler System Operation
At its most rudimentary level, a sprinkler system consists of a relatively few main components. We'll start with the controller. This is an electronic, computerized unit that is the "brains" behind the sprinkler system. The controller utilizes a timer that tells your system which set of sprinkler heads need to turn on when, and for how long. It is connected to a set of valves that regulate the flow of water into a specific "zone" in your sprinkler system. The valves are tied directly into your water system and act like faucets that turn off and on when told to by the controller.
These valves then feed water into the rest of the sprinkler system, which is typically composed of undersurface pipes that lead to the actual sprinkler heads. The sprinkler heads are normally placed near ground level when not in use, and then pop-up when the water pressure fills the pipes that feed them...so there you have it, the essence of a sprinkler system.
Although there a number of "do-it-yourself" sprinkler system kits on the market, the complexity of a properly designed, installed and maintained system, precludes the ability and expertise of the average homeowner. For instance, how many homeowners would know what the local regulations and specifications are? Are there permits required? Which backflow device is needed for the specific application; PVB, RP or double check? Is PVC or poly pipe called for? How many and what type of valves are needed? What type of rotor heads do you need; stream rotors, gear driven rotors or impact-style rotors, and where do you place them? And what about"spray" or "mist" type heads, drip irrigation, rain sensors, etc. etc.
A qualified, professional contractor will know the answers to these questions and many others. The contractor will also be able analyze everything from your soil conditions to which parts of your yard get the most sun and/or shade. The professional will also consider the slope of your property, the various types of landscaping you have and their water requirements as he plans and designs an efficient system for your home.
Zoning Your Lawn
Irrigation zones are an element of landscape irrigation design that allows your system to target water distribution with precision. The premise behind the landscape irrigation design concept of "irrigation zones" is a simple element of planning the system. Zoning basically ensures that Zone A of your lawn should get X amount of water while Zone B should only receive Y amount, and so on.
Establishing irrigation zones allows your sprinkler system to be programmed accordingly. This ability to discharge more precise amounts of water in a targeted area further promotes water conservation and costs savings.
Sprinkler System Water Conservation Tips
Did you ever dream that you could actually save water through the use of an irrigation system? Perhaps not. But an irrigation system that is properly designed, installed and maintained, will help minimize the amount of water you use, while keeping your lawn and landscape looking good and healthy.
Here a few tips to help you have a lush, green landscape without draining the rivers and your bank account...
1.Don't drown everything
The greatest waste of water comes from applying too much, too often. Much of the water is never absorbed. Instead of watering for a long session, water a few times for shorter periods and take 15-minute breaks between each session. This will allow time for the water to soak in, while minimizing run off. (Especially in the hard clay soil of our area).
2.Watch the clock
Optimum watering hours are from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., when the sun is low winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Midday watering tends to be less efficient due to water loss through evaporation and windy conditions during the day. Watering during evening hours isn't the best idea either. Wet lawns and plant leaves can remain wet overnight-an irresistible invitation for fungus and other diseases to develop and grow. Watering during early morning hours allows everything to dry out throughout the day.
3.Divide by zones
Different plants need different amounts of water. Divide your yard and landscape areas into separate irrigation zones so grass can be watered separately and more frequently than groundcovers, shrubs and trees. Both sprinkler and drip irrigation can be incorporated to achieve more efficient use of water.
4.Water only things that grow
With a subsurface sprinkler system, proper sprinkler head alignment is paramount in order to water only living plants, not sidewalks, driveways or the street. A properly adjusted sprinkler head should spray large droplets of water instead of a fine mist. This will minimize evaporation and wind drift.
When it comes to watering individual trees, flowerbeds, potted containers or other non-grassy areas, consider applying water directly to the roots using low volume drip irrigation. This approach will reduce water waste from evaporation or runoff. It will also prevent unwanted weeds from growing. A basic drip system consists of a series of tubes that have holes at intervals. The location of the open holes is tailored to irrigate specific plants more efficiently. For instance, if you have certain plants spaced at two-foot intervals, the corresponding holes in the drip system will also be spaced at two-foot intervals. Water will be distributed only where the plants are stationed and not in the areas between them.
6.Perform routine inspections
If you're watering at the proper time of day (early morning hours), a problem may occur and not be discovered until it is too late. Periodically examining your sprinklers to make certain everything is in proper working order can save a lot of headaches. A clogged head or a torn line can wreak havoc on your landscape and water bill.
7.Be rain and season smart
Always adjust your sprinkler system as the seasons and the weather change. An easy way to accomplish this is to install a shut-off device in your system that automatically detects rain or moisture. These devices are relatively inexpensive and enable you to take advantage of Mother Nature's watering without having to pay for it.
Approximate Cost of a Sprinkler System
The cost of an automatic sprinkler system depends mainly on two factors-the size of your lawn or yard to be irrigated (ie, how much pipe needs to be laid, how many physical sprinkler heads are needed) and the components you choose to build your system. For a 2500 sq. ft. lawn, you could expect a figure of around $2000-$2500 for an underground sprinkler system.
However, as you go up in size, costs do not increase at the same rate since you have already paid for the plumbing connection to the water system, the controller, etc. So a 5000 sq. ft. lawn might only be $3500. Another ballpark figure to use is $600-$700 per zone (a zone is an area where the sprinklers all operate at one time - due to water pressure and volume issues, normally 5-10 sprinkler heads operate at a time - a zone usually consumes 10-15 gallons of water per minute), so a 5 zone system would run somewhere around $3,000 to $3,500.
If you considered subsurface irrigation even a few years ago, you were probably discouraged by the expense and complexity of the installation. In the past few years, dramatic improvements have been made in both the materials used and installation techniques. These enhancements have reduced the cost significantly.
With subsurface irrigation, the water is applied at a slower rate but for a longer period of time. The slower application rate means that your sprinkler zones can be significantly larger. For example, a medium sized yard might need 8 zones with an above ground system where the subsurface irrigation system might only need 3 or 4 zones. Fewer zones mean fewer control valves, a fewer heads and a less expensive timer. All of these things can add up to significant cost savings.
Choosing a Contractor
Any reputable contractor will provide you with a plan diagram and estimates on cost and time. Be certain to inquire about warranty, types of products used and service/maintenance issues, including winterization. Make sure the contractor can provide references and is insured, bonded and licensed.
It is in everyone's best interest to conserve water whenever possible. Since a subsurface irrigation / sprinkler system can save you from 30 to 70 percent in lawn water usage, it can benefit the environment as well as your bank account. So, if a new or upgraded sprinkler system is in your plans, contact a qualified contractor for more information.
SOURCE: This article originally appeared in Home Improvement Resource Magazine. Home Improvement Resource Magazine is a bi-monthly publication serving the Kansas City Metropolitan area. For more information contact the publisher, R.J. Scott.