Irrigation system watering plants along street 1

How to Spot Irrigation Issues Before They Ruin Your Lawn

Tom McCoy Tom McCoy

If you want to elevate your Tampa Bay HOA property into the upper echelon of landscapes, investing in an irrigation system is essential. While the Sunshine State is a haven for lush natural landscapes and is known for its afternoon thunderstorms, it is still subject to inconsistent precipitation and prolonged periods of drought. Sprinkler systems help fill these gaps in rainfall intelligently, allowing your lawn to flourish.

Unfortunately, the same system that can unlock the full potential of your property and give it life in times of drought can also be its downfall. Problems with irrigation can wreak havoc on a landscape, especially if they are left unchecked or permitted to develop over time. That’s why irrigation system maintenance and the sprinkler system troubleshooting is so important.

Irrigation System Maintenance and Troubleshooting - What You Need to Know

Why Your HOA Property Needs an Irrigation System

Your landscape needs proper hydration to survive, let alone thrive. While rainfall and hand watering can work, they are unpredictable, inconsistent, and not exactly precise. When it comes to watering by hand, you also have to consider the inconvenience of the process, the time it takes, and the potential for wasted resources.

Irrigation systems negate these issues, especially if they are of the modern variety. Innovation in irrigation has made it incredibly efficient. Smart irrigation systems can account for changes in the weather, and micro-irrigation can deliver just the right amount of water to exactly where it needs to go. Both of these advances in technology save your HOA community time and money while also conserving water.

While the upfront investment can be a bit daunting, the long-term benefits of opting for an irrigation system are well worth it. Once installed, the primary concern is irrigation system maintenance to ensure that it continues to be an advantageous solution for your HOA property for years to come.

front yard with irrigation system spraying lawn

How to Spot Problems with Irrigation

Like anything, irrigation systems require maintenance. Over time, they can develop issues, experience failure, and suffer from the effects of wear and tear. Just as your lawn must be tended regularly to avoid becoming overgrown and infested with weeds, your irrigation system must be regularly inspected and maintained to operate properly.

While you don’t have to be an irrigation expert–leave that to your local landscaping professionals–familiarizing yourself with common problems with irrigation and how to perform basic sprinkler system troubleshooting can save you from future headaches. Remember, spotting areas of concern early is essential to mitigating their potential impact in the long run.

If left unchecked, even small complications can turn catastrophic. For example, the tiniest of leaks can not only lead to inefficiency in your system, but it can also hit your bank account quite hard–and that’s before you undergo the process of fixing it. The moral of this story is that the quicker you pinpoint a problem, the less likely it is to develop into a serious debacle.

irrigation system watering lawn and flower beds

Your Irrigation System is Leaking

One of the best qualities of irrigation systems is the role they play in intelligently managing a valuable resource–water. An unchecked leak can cost you a significant amount of money. After all, your water bill isn’t cheap!

Troubleshooting irrigation systems that may be leaking involves looking for the symptoms of a leak and then finding the leak itself. The most common signs of a leak include a visual leak coming from a fitting or sprinkler head, a noticeable reduction in water pressure, and areas of the landscape that appear soggy or oversaturated.

Leaks can be caused by a myriad of factors that range from tree roots damaging the pipes to normal wear and tear taking their toll over time. Unless the leak is located at a sprinkler head or other exposed area of the system, repairing it typically involves digging up the damaged pipe and either patching it or replacing the affected fitting or section.

Clogged or Broken Sprinkler Heads

Because the sprinkler heads are one of the few components of your irrigation system that are exposed, they are subject to issues like clogging and breaking. While these are obviously two ends of the spectrum when it comes to severity, both can cause significant issues within your system, making it vital to look for them when engaging in sprinkler system troubleshooting.

Clogged sprinkler heads can occur quite frequently, thanks to dirt and debris. Whether it’s accumulated from multiple storms or buildup from minerals naturally occurring in your water, the result is an inefficient irrigation system. Symptoms of clogged sprinkler heads include uneven coverage of your HOA landscape and reduced water flow from the affected heads.

Damaged sprinkler heads are less common but still something to look out for when troubleshooting irrigation systems. Sometimes, the heads succumb to ordinary wear and tear. Other times, the problem is caused by foot traffic, lawn maintenance equipment, or some other accidental contact with the head. Broken sprinkler heads are an immediate concern, as they can stop working entirely, cause flooding, and waste a tremendous amount of water.

Thankfully, both issues are typically resolved quickly and easily. Cleaning clogged heads involves turning off the sprinkler system, removing the head, and cleaning it with running water, a toothpick, a small brush, or other cleaning instruments. Broken heads are replaced in much the same way, but instead of cleaning them, they are simply replaced with a head that works within your system.

Sprikler irrigation spraying annual flowers around palm

Your Sprinkler System Controller is Malfunctioning

With modern irrigation systems, the controller is the brains of the operation. It controls when the system is active or inactive, allocates the right water level to each zone, ensures consistency, and more. In other words, it’s a serious problem if the controller is malfunctioning, and the entire sprinkler system will suffer as a result.

Because a bad controller can cause multiple problems with irrigation, it can sometimes be tricky to diagnose. The best way to identify the control as the culprit when troubleshooting irrigation systems is to take note of patterns. If the system is operating inconsistently, running off schedule, or over- or under-watering, you might have a controller issue.

Sometimes, this problem is easy to fix–simply check the electrical connections to ensure they are working properly and consider resetting the controller. If these quick fixes don’t do the trick, it may be time to replace the controller.

Inefficiency and Water Waste

If your sprinkler system is not efficiently providing water where it needs to, it could be an issue that irrigation system maintenance can’t solve. Rather than being a failure in the system, it could be the design of the system itself. From the placement of the sprinkler heads to improper water pressure, a host of design flaws could make your irrigation perform below standard.

In situations such as these, working with an expert to assess the design and installation of your irrigation system and then make appropriate adjustments and changes is the best solution. Every landscape is unique, especially when it comes to HOA properties, and tailoring the sprinkler system to the exact needs of yours is a must.

Crew adjusting irrigation controls

When in Doubt, Ask a Professional

Being able to do your own sprinkler system troubleshooting is a valuable skill that can come in handy. Ideally, however, you will work with a professional who can perform the necessary irrigation system maintenance on a regular basis and catch problems before they develop.

Typically, this would include an HOA irrigation inspection that encompasses the details of an HOA's irrigation system–what's working, what's not, and what needs updating. Usually, there are details in these reports that allow the property manager and board members to understand where the system stands, what repairs are needed, and what kind of enhancements could improve the system. 

With over two decades spent serving the Tampa Bay area, Landcrafters has the knowledge and experience to help your HOA property prosper. From irrigation design to preemptive maintenance, Landcrafters can ensure your sprinkler system conserves water while pushing your landscape to its full potential.

Sod beach along ocean being watered with irrigation
If you’d like to learn more, please feel free to contact us or peruse our blog. It’s packed with valuable landscaping insights that we’ve accumulated over the years and are now passing on to you!

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Tom McCoy

Tom McCoy