Troubleshooting Sprinklers

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Your sprinklers represent a big investment. When something goes wrong, paying a professional to diagnose and repair the problem is frustrating and expensive. Try these methods for troubleshooting your sprinkler system with little time, effort, and money.

Check the Power

As with most electrical appliances, when something goes wrong, check the power source. Making sure your sprinkler system is powered up and plugged in is the first thing to do.  If the system is plugged in correctly, but still not working, check the power fuses. These steps are quick and easy to eliminate a simple, potential problem.

Check the Timer

The clock on your sprinklers timer should show the correct time of day. If it doesn't, then it could be that your system is functioning properly, but the timer has it coming on at the wrong time.

Note the Problem Locations

If the problem with your sprinklers is in only one zone of your yard or garden, then you'll want to check the solenoid valve that supplies water to that area. Shut the water off and then check the valve to make sure that it's not blocked. There could be debris that's preventing it from opening. If a sprinkler won't shut off, the valve is probably being held open by debris like a tiny rock. In either case, cleaning out the solenoid valve should remedy the problem.

Gushing Sprinkler Head

If your sprinkler head isn't spraying water so much as gushing it like a geyser, the head is broken. You'll need to replace the head.

Weeping Sprinkler Head

A sprinkler head that doesn't continue to spray when the sprinkler system is off but seems to weep water has a faulty valve. It's probably just worn and not sealing properly. Replacing the valve will solve this problem. It could be that this head is the one in the lowest part and the water is running back to it when the system goes off. Unless it puddles or runs across pavement it shouldn't pose a large problem, but you can have a valve installed to prevent this.


If you discover puddling in your yard in just one spot, then the water line that runs underground is most likely broken and leaking. You don't want to wait on this repair because it can cost you in extra water. Sometimes when a line is broken, water will actually spray up from the ground. Turn off the water, locate the broken pipe and replace it.

Head Not Spraying

If your sprinklers work fine overall but one head doesn't spray properly, you've probably got the most common problem among sprinklers. Fortunately, a clogged sprinkler head is easy to repair. You can take stiff wire and poke through the slits and then test again. When badly clogged, sprinklers should be removed and soaked before cleaning.

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