Lawn sprinkler system operation, planning – 5 videos

#1 Overview of underground sprinklers
I explain sprinkler components and plumbing code requirements. Water flows from the house, to electric valves, to water different areas of the yard, using various patterns of sprinklers.
Of importance in this video is the installation of a drain to prevent the system from freezing. I’m from Michigan, so I have to winterize. The drain is also usually used to blow compressed air to winterize.

#2 Flow of water
An underground sprinkler system, by plumbing code, is required to have a vacuum breaker. It is a check valve that prevents lawn-water in the system from expanding back into the house potable water. I didn’t make the law.
After the check valve, the water goes to a series of plumbing that has an electric valve per zone. A series of these is called a manifold. I demonstrate a cool one in the video.
Each valve controls a zone. The size of the zone is determined by adding up all the sprinkler heads compared to the supply of water. If 4 gallons-per-minute (gpm) is coming through the water meter and you have 1 gpm heads, sometimes 4 of them is too much to run properly. Don’t use too many heads on one zone!
I also show how to operate a zone valve manually without the timer.

#3 Sprinkler installation using funny pipe, swing pipe.
This is soft piping used to swing off a rigid main line to make placing a sprinkler in a remote location easier. Funny pipe is used to replace or relocate sprinkler heads that are taller or shorter than the one being replaced.
Repairing a leak in a sprinkler system requires some tricks to prevent kinking the main line. I use male and female pipe adapters to make a union to prevent kinking the line. If the break in the main line is more than an inch or two, I use 2 female adapters and a PVC nipple to make long couplings.

#4 Big heads, different sprays and where to use them
I discuss Rainbird sprinkler heads and old style Maxi-Paws. Rainbird gear and rotor heads are fixed to the left of their rotation. Hunter, another popular head in our area, is fixed to the right hand of their rotation.
When sprinkler heads don’t have enough water available to pop-up and spray the distance, you can reduce the size of the nozzles. Be careful you don’t use too many heads on one zone; it is very hard to re-engineer a system once it’s buried.

#5 Mist heads, uses, and watering patterns
Sprinkler mist heads are pop-ups that spring out of the ground with an assortment of heads. Use the area to determine what pattern the head should have. Mist head patters come in narrow strips, quarter circles, half circles and variable adjustable heads. There are many to choose from if your supplier carries them all.
Once the pattern is determined, chose which height of the body you’ll use. The taller the head, the further it comes out of the ground and goes over tall grass. The 2 inch and 3 inch heads are too short for my liking. Extra tall heads, 12 inches, work well to get over ground cover in a flower bead.
Risers made out of PVC or copper can be of any length. These are used often to spray over bushes or gardens.