Home Lawn Water Sprinkler Irrigation System Problems








Question: I need some troubleshooting solutions for a home sprinkler system. I bought a house 3 months ago. There are supposed to be sprinklers for the backyard. The outside of the garage has a sprinkler control box for the sprinklers. The control box appears to be fairly new and it has 6 zones. Near the box there are 6 control valves that turn the water on and off. I cannot find a sprinkler head anywhere in the yard. I turned on all 6 of the zones and nothing happens. I am confused. Where are the sprinklers? Maybe it connects to a water drip system? Another kind of sprinkler system that does not use the traditional sprinkler heads? Please assist!

Troubleshooting A Home Water Sprinkler Irrigation SystemTroubleshooting A Home Water Sprinkler Irrigation System

Answer: If the water is FOR SURE ON and nothing is happening, there may be on and off switch valves on each sprinkler head. There may also be other water ON/OFF valves located on the outside of the house that are not turned on.








Remember that sometimes you need to check for a main water valve to the complete irrigation system. In the winter it is turned off to prevent damage from a burst or frozen pipe. Also, newer sprinkler heads are popup type and may not be easily visible if the grass is high. The sprinkler heads are most likely parallel with the ground so seeing them may be difficult until turned on and water is running through them.

common shut off valves for home irrigation systemCommon shut off valves for home irrigation system

There is also probably a back-flow preventer. There could be a shut-off valve on the inside of the house or garage before it goes outside to the backflow preventer. So check everywhere for water valves of all types to be sure they are on and or in the correct position.

home sprinkler parts identification diagramHome sprinkler parts identification diagram

If you hear the water flowing at the main control box, it is possible you have an underground leak. If you hear no water flow, then there is no water going to the controller. You will need to trace the water pipes back until you locate where a valve is turned off.

Common Home Irrigation Sprinkler DiagramCommon Home Irrigation Sprinkler Diagram

Try this… Turn on the water to all zones. Turn on all the valves and walk around the yard to see if you can detect any water flow. Do you hear water flowing? They may be underground types of irrigation drippers but most likely not. See if you can hear or see any water anywhere in the yard. If you find nothing in the first 10 minutes, leave everything on for an hour and then go back out to the yard and check if you see any water forming in the yard.









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common home sprinkler headCommon home pop up sprinkler head

If you just barely moved into your new house, is it possible that the lawn is so overgrown that you can’t find the pop up sprinkler heads?

As a last resort, if you just do not see the sprinkler heads, carefully dig around the valves to see where the pipes go to and come in from.

Possibly there is another shut off valve close to the meter? Sometimes an irrigation system has two sets of valves. One main shut off valve near the meter and one at each set of valves. This gives the homeowner the option to turn off one set of valves or the whole complete system.

irrigation controller for home sprinklersIrrigation controller for home sprinklers









Here is one other way to find out what is going on with your irrigation system… Turn on just one zone. Check the water meter to see if water is flowing. You should hear it going at the valves. Do you not? If you hear water moving, walk in the yard and listen for water, the heads are probably buried as they might not have been used for some time.

If you know of other ways to troubleshoot a problem water irrigation system for a home, please leave a comment below to assist others with the same issue.



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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Lily August 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm

I’m always struggling with knowing how to maintain my irrigation system, so I’m glad that you’ve covered some troubleshooting tips here. I’m not sure if I have a back-flow preventer, but I’ll be sure to look into that! Hopefully I get this figured out!

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