Cleaning Your Sprinkler System

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Every year, you should plan on cleaning your sprinkler system at least one time to clear out any debris and dirt that may have accumulated in the system when your sprinklers have not been used for an extended period of time.

When to Clean

In areas where sprinkler systems are turned off during cold winter months, sprinkler systems should be cleaned in the early to mid spring before being turned back on for regular use. Over the period of the winter, it is possible for dirt and debris to accumulate in the sprinkler lines or to foul the sprinkler heads, making them spray incorrectly. 

Also, it is possible for sprinkler heads to be broken or damaged over the winter months, particularly in cold weather areas where freezes and thaws happen with some regularity.

Another time to clear and clean the sprinkler system is after a large storm, especially if it is a storm that had a great deal of muddy run-off or flooding.  In this case, your sprinkler lines may be filled with mud and soil debris that has to be cleaned out before your system can begin to work correctly again.

Cleaning Process

Before you begin the process of cleaning out your sprinkler system, it is a good idea to have a few spare sprinkler heads on hand in case you need to replace broken or damaged heads in the process.

Step 1

At your first station, turn on the valve and let the sprinklers run for a few moments.  Let the water run long enough to completely fill the lines attached to that station.

Step 2

As the water is running, check to see if there are any sprinkler heads that are clogged or are not spraying correctly.

Step 3

Turn off the water. Wait to see which sprinkler is the last to stop running. This is the lowest point in the line.
Remove the sprayer from this particular sprinkler head.

Step 4

Turn the water back on and allow it to stay on long enough to flush out any stones or debris from the system line.

Step 5

Turn the water back off and remove all of the sprinkler heads from that line  Turn the water back on to flush out soil, small pebbles and other debris from the line and risers.

Step 6

Replace the sprinkler heads one at a time, starting at the highest point.

Step 7

Repeat all of the above steps with each of the stations, one at a time.  It is a good idea to do check each line or station separately in order to maintain strong water pressure needed to clear the pipes.

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