Maintenance & Repair

Maintenance Musts Regular Maintenance Checks Improve Irrigation System Performance and Provide Upgrade Opportunities By Lynette Von Minden

Whether they’re installed in a residential backyard, a park or a corporate campus, irrigation systems take a beating. And, just one malfunctioning spray or rotor can negatively affect system performance and water usage over time. According to Jeremy Mansell, senior technical trainer with Rain Bird International, Inc. — Service Division, an irrigation system can be compared with any mechanical system that requires regular maintenance.

“I used to be an irrigation contractor, and when my customers were reluctant to discuss a maintenance plan, I compared their systems to a vehicle that needs an oil change,” Mansell says. “Everyone understands it from that perspective. If you want any mechanical system to function as efficiently as possible, it has to be properly maintained.”

Change Is good

While “routine” maintenance such as checking heads and other components for damage is certainly important, reviewing the landscape for any changes is also imperative. As any experienced contractor knows, property owners often don’t realize the impact that adding new garden sheds, fences, hardscapes, trees or planting beds can have on an irrigation system’s overall design.

“When you’re on a maintenance call, keep your eyes open for any changes that property owners may have made to the landscape since your last visit,” Mansell says. “Rotors that are now inefficiently irrigating a flower bed instead of turf, sprays that are blocked by a new tree or ornamental grass or significant overspray on a new patio — each of those situations can potentially waste water and negatively affect system performance.”

Upgrade Potential

Maintenance checks also give contractors the ideal opportunity to review systems and suggest upgrades that can improve performance, use less water and provide their customers with greater convenience.

“If there’s any room in a customer’s budget for a single upgrade, I’d suggest pressure-regulating sprays and rotors,” Mansell says. “Water pressure variations have a huge impact on water flow rates, precipitation rates and distribution uniformity. Heads with in-stem pressure regulation cost relatively little, but they can have a big impact on performance and efficiency.”

Weather-based smart controllers for the entire system and low-volume drip irrigation for planting beds can also be wise upgrades. Smart controllers re-evaluate and adjust their own schedules for a tremendous impact on water savings. Drip irrigation offers more targeted watering by delivering moisture at or near plant root zones. Both offer property owners greater convenience, with the controller handling scheduling on its own and drip irrigation eliminating the need to hand water beds.

On slopes or clay soils, it can make sense to swap out spray nozzles for rotary nozzles that apply water more slowly, allowing it to be absorbed instead of running off. In small or oddly shaped areas, installing high-efficiency variable arc nozzles can also save water.

Photo Credit: Rain Bird 24 Irrigation TODAY | October 2016

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