Even though the Willamette Valley has no shortage of rain, a properly working sprinkler system can make a pretty big difference for keeping you and your garden happy. And, if you're going to invest in a quality system, you want to make sure it lasts as long as possible. But, how long should you expect things to be in tip-top shape? What can you do to keep your system running smoothly? We'll break it down for you here...
On average, the typical sprinkler system lasts about 20 years. However, the components, taken separately, may need attention much sooner than that. For instance, good quality heads will last 10 to 15 years whereas inexpensive heads will only give you 2 to 3 years of service. Depending on water quality, your nozzles may need to be replaced every few years. Another component you may need to replace regularly are the wires, often due to improper installation and corrosion. Valves will give you 10 to 15 years of service, while controllers just 5 to 10 years.
The pipes in your sprinkler system, however, are the most durable component and will last the longest, since they are shielded from direct sun damage and other external factors; you can expect them to last for up to 40 years before you’d need to replace them.
So, if you start thinking about how old your home is and when the last time any of the above items have been replaced, you might be due for a new system (or at least new parts).
If age isn't a concern, there could be other factors that lead to irrigation failures including previous repairs, proximity to trees, rodent activity, vandalism, and the quality of the irrigation water (reclaimed water, well water, etc.). But perhaps nothing affects the lifespan of your irrigation system more than the quality of installation and components.
An irrigation installation starts with the design and is carried through to the setup of each sprinkler head, the installation of the water pipe, the location of the control valves, and the mounting of the control timer and rain sensor. Even a brand new sprinkler system may need repairs if pipe fittings were not primed and/or glued correctly, if wires were not spliced correctly, or if lines were not sufficiently flushed with water.
Environmental elements and factors such as excessive shade and sunlight, low water pressure, or poor drainage can influence your lawn sprinkler design and installation and should be taken into consideration during the irrigation system design phase.
Maintenance Is Key to Prolonging Your Sprinkler System’s Lifespan
Deciding to install or replace a sprinkler system in your yard is a big decision, but it’s not just an install-and-forget type of situation. There are things you have to do to make sure it continues to operate efficiently. Failing to maintain your irrigation system can result in high water bills and shorter life expectancy of the entire system or its parts. Both of these can end up costing you much more than performing regular maintenance.
For this time of year, a spring checkup is a good preventative measure to make sure everything is in proper working order. The first thing you need to do in the spring is the start-up procedure. A thorough checkup of your whole system should verify that none of the heads or pipes broke during winter, that all parts are still functioning, and all zones are performing under normal parameters.
Check to make sure you’re getting a good overlap on all your sprinkler heads and you don’t have areas that are being blocked by large trees or bushes. Also, ensure that the zones are overlapping so that you get a consistent color across your lawn. At this time, it’s important to turn your water valve on slowly to avoid water hammer – a pressure surge caused by a rapidly opening of the valve and creating air pressure that may lead to bursts in the pipes or fittings.
Although many maintenance tasks can be mastered by most homeowners, it’s always safer to have your system routinely checked and maintained by a professional contractor. The team at Graham Landscape & Design can work with you to design and install an irrigation system, develop a maintenance plan, as well as perform any necessary repairs. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today. 541-729-8029
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