Irrigation Catch Can Test
Does Your System Measure Up?
Record Sheet For Conducting a Catch-Can Test (PDF version)
Use this record sheet to conduct a simple catch-can test and find out how much water your sprinkler system applies. This will help you determine if you need to alter the system or make time clock adjustments to prevent over- or underwatering your landscape.
Step1: Place the containers randomly underneath the spray pattern of one zone. You will need to repeat these steps in each zone.
Step 2: Turn on the sprinklers in that zone for 15 minutes.
Step 3: Turn off the sprinklers and measure the depth of the water you collected in each container.
Step 4: Record the amount of water (in inches) that you collected for each container.
1_____ 2_____ 3_____ 4_____ 5_____ 6_____ 7_____ 8_____ 9_____ 10_____
11_____ 12_____ 13_____ 14_____ 15_____ 16_____ 17_____ 18_____ 20_____
Total of All Containers in Inches ___________
Step 5: Compare each container's water content to determine if the amount is the same between them. If any discrepancies exist, changes will need to be made to sprinklers or piping so that the water is applied uniformly in the zone. Alterations need to be finished prior to continuing.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Step 6: Add all container measurements together and divide by the number of containers to obtain the average depth of the containers in that zone.
________________________ ÷ _______________________ = _____________________
Total of all containers ÷ number of containers used = zone's average water depth in inches
Step 7: Multiply the zone's average water depth by four to obtain the zone's hourly rate of application.
____________________ X 4 = __________________
Zone's average water depth X 4 = zone's hourly application rate in inches per hour
Step 8: Determine if you are overwatering or underwatering within the zone. Most plants and lawns require only ½" to ¾" of water when plants show signs of stress. Using the zone's hourly application rate, consult the guide below to determine how long it will take to apply ¾" of water.
Step 9: adjust your sprinkler system timer to deliver the appropriate amount of water for the zone.
Step 10: Repeat for each zone. The catch-can test should be repeated any time the sprinkler system experiences changes, such as the addition of sprinklers, valve replacement, or water source change.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide step-by-step instruction on sprinkler system repairs and design issues, but created to be a checklist for homeowners desiring to know more about efficient sprinkler system management. Equipment operation manuals should be consulted for proper use and repair instructions. Many manufacturers provide the manuals electronically on their website. It is suggested that the assistance of a professional licensed irrigation contractor be sought for those tasks beyond the knowledge and abilities of the homeowner. Persons involved in the creation, production, or delivery of this information shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages (including property damages, damages for loss of business profits, business interruption, etc.) arising out of the use of this information, or any omission or inaccuracy of any information.
* Adapted from a publication created by Christine Claus, St. Petersburg Water Resources Department, and Dr. Joan Bradshaw, University of Florida IFAS, with funding provided by the Pinellas-Anclote River basin Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
(page last reviewed: 11/22/13)