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Thread: sprinkler systems

  1. #1

    sprinkler systems

    Can I please get some advice on what I need to know to get started with a sprinkler system? I have never installed sprinklers or owned a home that had in-ground sprinklers. Where I live yards are small and people don't usually have them, but I am building a new deck and installing new backyard sod, so I figured there is no time like present to do it. My yard consists of one piece of grass about 15 feet by 30 feet and another about 20 feet by 15 feet. There is a large tree in the middle that I will have to work around. I would also like to add a hose bib on the other side of the fence against the alley where I have some vegetable boxes and fruit trees. I'd like to have this part of the sprinkler system but not on a timer just so I can easily blow the water out in winter. My point is that it is not going to need to be a big system. I am going to hire someone to do the trenching and most if not all of the in-ground work because that is work for someone younger and fitter than I am, but I'd like to try to save some money if I an by doing some of the plumbing work myself. I can solder pipes and generally do basic homeowner plumbing.

    At this point is that I want to understand my options for connecting to my household plumbing. I know that coming off the meter before going into the house is ideal, but that is going to be impossible. There are just too many obstacles. My house is over a hundred years old so the plumbing is an amalgam of various types from different generations of upgrades, but is generally in good repair and mostly from the past few decades. I would like to mount the box in a spot on the side of the house where I can easily tie into a run of galvanized that is a pretty straight shot from the service entrance. I will have to drill through about ten inches of masonry to get the water outside. If I go this route can I just put a T in the galvanized, a shutoff valve, then go through the brick and install the anti-siphon valve directly on the outside of the house before feeding it into the box where the controllers will be?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    There's a lot to cover here, so the best place to start would be Google & youtube. The sprinkler equipment manufacturers have some very good resources to help you out with planning construction of the system. You can get the parts at a home center, but I found that shopping online makes it a lot easier to get exactly what you want and which brand you prefer.

    I think it's well worth the effort to install a sprinkler system. It will get the water just where you want it, when it's needed, and you'll end up using less water. Not to mention the convenience

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    Does it freeze in your part of the world? In the USA most sprinkler stuff is glued pvc pipes. Does your water have much debris in it? like sand that can clog nozzles.
    Bill D

  4. #4
    My part of the world is USA (by transplant). I am in the mountain west and it definitely freezes, so I need to be able to blow out lines. It is city water and it generally very high quality. I've never had problems with debris of any kind.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    I recommend using the black polyethylene pipe rather than PVC for areas where it freezes. It has better freeze resistance than PVC.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Pratt View Post
    I recommend using the black polyethylene pipe rather than PVC for areas where it freezes. It has better freeze resistance than PVC.
    OK thanks. So do I connect the anti-siphon to the galvanized coming out of the house and then connect the plastic pipe to the anti-siphon, or is the plastic just downstream of the valves?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Around here, almost all residential underground irrigation is black polyethylene. In 45 years, the only problems I have had with pipes involve roots crushing and splitting the pipe or with fittings. I have a lot of grade on my property so I do not blow out my pipes. I do drain my pump and valves. I pump from a lake, but many others in the sub are on the local municipal system. Whether you are on a well or a municipal/city water system you need a backflow preventer, not just a check valve to keep your house water safe. I would not rely on a simple anti-siphon valve like you would with just a hose. You may need a permit for that. My experience is that the published spray radius for a sprinkler head is seldom correct, it is usually less. First step is to draw up your property to scale so you can start the design of the system. Don't cheap out on the size or pressure rating of your pipe. Stronger and bigger is always better, or you may find you have inadequate pressure out at the end of the system. If you have multiple zones with electric valves, I suggest the Orbit WiFi timer that you can control from your phone. It works great for turning the system on and off while you adjust or fix heads. https://www.amazon.com/Orbit-57946-6...-1-spons&psc=1
    NOW you tell me...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Lewiston, Idaho
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    First, as recommended, go to the major sprinkler companies and youtube where you can get some recommendations.

    The best free advice I got when I installed my system myself 30+ years ago was Don't put in automatic drains, rather install a "T" where you can hook an air compressor each fall and blow each circuit out at the end of the irrigation season". I did, others didn't. I have never had a problem with a frozen line.
    Ken

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Wayland, MA
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    First thing to do is probably check with your local authorities to see what can be permitted, and then find out whether you can use it when you need to. Lots of towns around us will no longer issue permits for automatic sprinkler systems, and even if you can have one installed institute bans on using them that typically run July-September. This is in the soggy east, I can only imagine water is a scarcer resource out west.

    I've put in drip systems to critical garden beds, which are an order of magnitude more efficient than broad spraying. Read up on xeriscape landscaping for plants that get by with little added water.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    many folks put spray heads right next to the sidewalk and wonder why so much water is wasted on the concrete. I keep mine back about 12 inches from the concrete. I bury a soaker hose about 3 inches deep roughly 6 inches from the edge of the concrete. No overspray onto the pavement or cars. And it can be run during non water times since no one can tell if it is running.

  11. #11
    I can't find anything in the local codes prohibiting in-ground sprinklers. I did find an ordinance saying that electronic timers are mandatory, which seems odd. I believe it will save water because with the old sprinklers on the hose I could never get it positioned just right and ended up watering the deck, the side of the house, the fence, the chicken coop, etc.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    SE Michigan
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    I’d also recommend considering dedicated lawn vs. flower bed zones. It’s nice to be able to set watering days/times differently for lawn vs plants.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    I’d also recommend considering dedicated lawn vs. flower bed zones. It’s nice to be able to set watering days/times differently for lawn vs plants.
    We don't really have "flower beds" to speak of. We have the lawn in the backyard for the dogs, then a small vegetable garden, and everything else is low-water perennials. I don't water those frequently enough to justify the hassle and expense of sprinklers. There is not anywhere on our entire property I cannot reach with a 25 foot hose.

    I got one bid and these guys were, how would you say, idiots. When I showed them the 100+ year old mulberry tree roots they would have to dig under he said "We'll just bring in a chain saw and cut them". That was all I needed to hear.

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Systems are piped either with vinyl or pvc. I prefer vinyl because it's a little flexible. less prone to bursting.

    Most systems are supplied from the yard with the valves in the front yard near your water meter. Mine was supplied from my basement. That was both good and bad. I put in extra plumbing so I could connect my shop compressor to blow it out for the winter. I had a pressure gauge on the air line. When I turned on a zone and then opened the air valve, the pressure went up. Then it would slowly fall as air leaked past the water. I would blow it a couple of times. Never had a line burst.

    Something you may not have given thought to. I hunted far and wide to get a controller with a remote. Just push a couple of buttons to turn on a zone.

    -- It was worth it's weight in gold when I had to work on the system. I always had to replace a head or two in the spring. Put the head in, turn the zone on to see if it's aimed right.
    -- I had a big compressor in the basement and used it to blow out the system for winter. the remote was really handy for that.
    -- If I had ever had major work done, it would have been handy to leave the remote out for the technician. I wouldn't have had to be home. Of course there's a little thingy on the valves that can activate a zone too. but the remote exercises the controller too.

    Note that the pros will bring out a huge compressor to blow out your lines. Those are the gas powered things on trailers. My little 26 gallon compressor couldn't do that but it seemed to be ok. Like I said, watch the pressure gauge and repeat the blowout procedure until you don't see a spike in pressure. That indicates that there is plenty of air space in the pipe.
    Last edited by Roger Feeley; 05-20-2019 at 5:37 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Scottsdale, Arizona
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    The most popular systems are polyethylene (LDPE), and Rigid PVC. LDPE is flexible so fairly tight curves are workable. Rigid PVC requires elbows etc. to change direction. LDPE is less expensive to install, but is not as durable as PVC. The quote for our development was X for LDPE, and 2X for Rigid PVC. The life expectancy of LDPE was 3-5 years, and 20-40 years for Rigid PVC.

    The durability of LDPE is dependent on whether it is made from "100 hour", or "1000 hour" raw material. The problem is that a consumer cannot tell the difference. If you go with LDPE make sure it is a known brand name. Do not price buy LDPE. Rigid PVC is brittle below freezing temperatures, but is not likely to be exposed to any kind of impact if it is buried at the recommended 6-8 inches.

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