Solutions To Common Sprinkler Problems

Solutions To Common Sprinkler Problems

If any of these activities are beyond your capabilities, you may need to hire a professional, licensed irrigation contractor for assistance in maintaining your system. Assistance in finding a contractor is available from the Florida Irrigation Society in their publication Know Your Irrigation Contractor (PDF) or from the EPA WaterSense Program.

Sprinkler being blocked by a plant or other object

  • Keep the plant pruned back to prevent blockage. Check regularly.
  • Add an extension or riser on the PVC piping under the sprinkler so it is above the obstruction. Although popular, this option is many times inefficient. It throws water higher into the air where it will be affected by evaporation and wind.
  • Relocate the sprinkler in front of the obstruction. If necessary, adjust or replace the nozzle so that all plants are watered
  • If in a plant bed, replace sprinklers with microirrigation devices that can be moved as plants grow. Microirrigation is not permitted on lawn grass
  • Determine whether the plants can survive without the sprinkler.

Sprinkler being blocked by lawn grass

  • Replace sprinkler with a model that pops up higher.
  • Add an extension between the PVC pipe and the sprinkler, ensuring that the top of the sprinkler remains just above soil level to avoid breakage when mowing.
  • Clean out grass around the sprinkler and install a concrete "donut" around the sprinkler.

Water is squirting out around the sprinkler head

  • Check sprinkler head, piping and fittings under the sprinkler for leaks.
  • Check rubber or plastic seal inside the top of the sprinkler for debris and wear; replace with recommended seal if it is damaged or worn.
  • Spray nozzles and rotor heads may need cleaning
  • Replacement of sprinkler may be needed

Time clock is not operating

  • Make sure it is plugged into a working outlet and switched to "on" or "automatic".
  • Make sure that the backup battery is not corroded or low on charge.
  • Has it rained recently? Perhaps the rain sensor is interrupting clock operation. This is normal until the cork disc dries out.

Rotor sprinkler does not rotate correctly

  • Check to ensure the sprinkler or the piping below it is not clogged. Clean sprinkler by soaking.
  • Check if there is adequate pressure in the zone to operate this type of sprinkler. Another nozzle with a lower flow rate may need to be installed.
  • The sprinkler may be broken. Replace it with the same type as others on the same zone.
  • If the head is at the end of the main water supply line for your system, there may not be enough pressure to operate the sprinkler properly. The head should be capped, or a new zone should be installed. 

Spray head sprinkler not putting out any water

  • Check to ensure the sprinkler, nozzle, filters or piping are not clogged. Clean parts by soaking.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide step-by-step instruction on sprinkler system repairs and design issues.  It was 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.