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Thread: HOW TO PROPERLY Turn on your Sprinkler System

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member greenbaypackersfan's Avatar
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    Default HOW TO PROPERLY Turn on your Sprinkler System

    Hi folks,
    I moved into a house with existing sprinkler system. It has 6 zones and the house is roughly 5 years old. I believe the owner have the system installed when the house was first built, and last year when we bought the house, the system had already been turned on (we bought the house in August.)

    I had a company to winterized the system for me. Now it is Spring, I plan on turned the system on fairly soon but want your advice first before I turn it on myself. I noticed the pipes outside where the sprinkler system sits has 2 screws hat is perpendicular. Do I need to turn that on horizontal before I turn the main valve on in my basement? Or it is ok to not touch that?

    I want to properly turn on the system and prevent any blow outs of the sprinkler heads or the pipes. I am new to this so a step by step instruction is greatly appreciated!

    I find this site very helpful and any insight will be carefully learned

    thanks

    JH

  2. #2
    Irrigation Contractor Fireguy97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenbaypackersfan View Post
    I noticed the pipes outside where the sprinkler system sits has 2 screws hat is perpendicular. Do I need to turn that on horizontal before I turn the main valve on in my basement? Or it is ok to not touch that?
    Can you post pictures? I've been a full time Irrigation Contractor for eight years now, and am not totally sure about what you are talking about. Is this on the incoming water supply to the irrigation system or valve box? (green box in the ground)? Are the 'screws' shut-offs? If they are, and if they have handle, this is called a ball valve. The ball valve handle is on the same plane as the shut off. If the handle is perpendicular to the pipe, the valve is off. Turn that valve off before you turn the basement water on.

    If the basement has a seperate shut-off then I normally keep the ball valves at a 45 degree point when I complete my fall blow-jobs (1/2 way between open and closed). These can freeze and split if they're left fully open or fully closed because water is trapped behind the ball when it's fully open or fully closed.

    Always turn ball valves open and closed very slowly. Turning fast will cause a water hammer and could cause damage to pipes, fittings, and devices.

    Start by turning the water on inside your home and work out to the irrigation system. Open valves very slowly to let the pipes fill up with water. Normally I have one sprinkler (zone) valve open (manualy) at this point to relieve pressure and to vent air in the system. When each zone fills with water and is running for a few minutes I check the pattern and flow of each head. It's important to re-set the heads (if needed) at this point and make sure that they are verticle, clear of turf overgrowth, and set to the proper height.

    Open the next zone valve manually, again slowly to fill the line with water and displace the air. Then close the previous zone valve. Continue checking and re-setting heads as needed, and follow the steps of open next valve before you close the previous valve. I do this to keep any water hammer pressure down to a minimum.

    Get your backflow assembly tested.

    If you do have a Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB) type of backflow assembly, you will have to open the first shut-off very quickly to seat the head. This is the only time that you open ball valves quickly. When you do this mak sure that the second shut-off is still closed.

    A PVB is the same type backflow assembly as in the previous thread asking about "water pours out from sprinkler turn on".

    If I didn't answer your question because I went on about the wrong "screws", please let me know.

    Mick
    Last edited by Fireguy97; 04-07-2010 at 10:36 AM.

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    DIY Junior Member greenbaypackersfan's Avatar
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    Hi Mick,
    Thanks for the speedy reply, based on your comments on the reply, I have a few additional question I'd like to ask you

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireguy97 View Post
    Can you post pictures? I've been a full time Irrigation Contractor for eight years now, and am not totally sure about what you are talking about. Is this on the incoming water supply to the irrigation system or valve box? (green box in the ground)? Are the 'screws' shut-offs? If they are, and if they have handle, this is called a ball valve. The ball valve handle is on the same plane as the shut off. If the handle is perpendicular to the pipe, the valve is off. Turn that valve off before you turn the basement water on. Mick
    I am at work and cannot post a picture, however I found a similar type of pipes online as mine at home located on the outside.
    http://media.rd.com/dynamic/98/03/89...lerFix_006.jpg However, in the link shown, mine has a round dot next to the valve and is currently set at vertical (think flat head screw that is currently on "I" position. Should that be on "__" position to be turned on?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireguy97 View Post
    Always turn ball valves open and closed very slowly. Turning fast will cause a water hammer and could cause damage to pipes, fittings, and devices.Mick
    thanks, I will keep that in mind

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireguy97 View Post
    Start by turning the water on inside your home and work out to the irrigation system. Open valves very slowly to let the pipes fill up with water. Normally I have one sprinkler (zone) valve open (manualy) at this point to relieve pressure and to vent air in the system. When each zone fills with water and is running for a few minutes I check the pattern and flow of each head. It's important to re-set the heads (if needed) at this point and make sure that they are verticle, clear of turf overgrowth, and set to the proper height.
    Open the next zone valve manually, again slowly to fill the line with water and displace the air. Then close the previous zone valve. Continue checking and re-setting heads as needed, and follow the steps of open next valve before you close the previous valve. I do this to keep any water hammer pressure down to a minimum.
    Mick
    Will I need to turn the screws shown on the picture on first from the pictured I provided above, then the MAIN sprinkler valve located in my basement? Or do I need to turn the valve on the basement first then the screws outside the house? The one in the basement looks like this http://www.fournierirrigation.com/images/shutoff.jpg except mine is in blue color instead of yellow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireguy97 View Post
    Always turn ball valves open and closed very slowly. Turning fast will cause a water hammer and could cause damage to pipes, fittings, and devices.Mick
    thanks, I will keep that in mind

    Oh! Could I let the CONTROLLER run thru each zone and check for leak or broken sprinkler heads or do I need to do it manually? I have no idea how to MANUALLY turn on each zone without using the CONTROLLER, perhaps you could guide me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireguy97 View Post
    If you do have a Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB) type of backflow assembly, you will have to open the first shut-off very quickly to seat the head. This is the only time that you open ball valves quickly. When you do this mak sure that the second shut-off is still closed.

    A PVB is the same type backflow assembly as in the previous thread asking about "water pours out from sprinkler turn on".

    If I didn't answer your question because I went on about the wrong "screws", please let me know.

    Mick
    When you're referring to the shut-off valve or BALL VALVE, are you referring to this? (see picture below)

    http://media.rd.com/dynamic/98/03/89...lerFix_006.jpg

    ^ I have 2 screws that is currently set on vertical, and I saw on youtube that someone posted you had to turn it to horizontal to turn it on. In the winter, turn it to vertical to close then pump the water out.....

    I believe the control box is in the ground... so I do need to dig that up to turn it on?

  4. #4
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The valve handles will be "parallel" to the piping when they are on, which means that one will usually be horizontal and the other vertical. The order you turn the valves on is immaterial, as is the speed you do it. We cannot tell EVERYTHING they might have done to winterize it so cannot tell you if all you have to do is turn on any valves which were closed.

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    Irrigation Contractor Fireguy97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenbaypackersfan View Post
    I am at work and cannot post a picture, however I found a similar type of pipes online as mine at home located on the outside.
    http://media.rd.com/dynamic/98/03/89...lerFix_006.jpg However, in the link shown, mine has a round dot next to the valve and is currently set at vertical (think flat head screw that is currently on "I" position. Should that be on "__" position to be turned on?

    Yes, those are ball valves. They are on your pressure vacuum breaker, your backflow assembly. When these valves are on your PVB they are called shut offs Shut off no.1 is the bottom one, shut off no.2 is the top one. The valve (shut off) at the bottom is on, and 'parrallel to the pipe. The valve on the top, is being turned on.

    Don't forget to have your backflow preventer tested. It has to be tested by a certified backflow assembly tester every year. Most municipalities want them tested when the system is started up for the year.




    Will I need to turn the screws shown on the picture on first from the pictured I provided above, then the MAIN sprinkler valve located in my basement? Or do I need to turn the valve on the basement first then the screws outside the house? The one in the basement looks like this http://www.fournierirrigation.com/images/shutoff.jpg except mine is in blue color instead of yellow.

    Turn both valves off, then turn MAIN sprinkler valve located in your basement on. After that is done, turn shut off no.1 on. This is the time that you want to turn the bottom valve on fast to seat the backflow valve. It might spit a little water while seating, that is ok. If it spits more than a little water, or is 'leaking', (normally from the top), you will have to try to seat it again. After it's seated turn shut-off no.2 on to the irrigation system.



    Oh! Could I let the CONTROLLER run thru each zone and check for leak or broken sprinkler heads or do I need to do it manually? I have no idea how to MANUALLY turn on each zone without using the CONTROLLER, perhaps you could guide me?

    You can let the controller run thru each zone if you don't know how to do it manually, but I prefer to do it manually to let the water into the lines slowly. If water enters the lines too fast you can risk having a water hammer and broken or cracked pipe or fittings. It doesn't normally happen, but be awar that it can happen.


    When you're referring to the shut-off valve or BALL VALVE, are you referring to this? (see picture below)

    http://media.rd.com/dynamic/98/03/89...lerFix_006.jpg

    ^ I have 2 screws that is currently set on vertical, and I saw on youtube that someone posted you had to turn it to horizontal to turn it on. In the winter, turn it to vertical to close then pump the water out.....

    Yes that is what I was refering to, just don't think of horizontal or vertical. The handle has to be in the same direction of the pipe to be 'on', perpendicular to the pipe to be off.

    I believe the control box is in the ground... so I do need to dig that up to turn it on?
    You would only have to get into the control box (valve box) to turn the irrigation valves on manually.

    Good luck, let us know how you do.

    Mick

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    DIY Junior Member greenbaypackersfan's Avatar
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    About an hour ago, I went with Fireguy97's Step-by-step on how to turn on the Sprinkler System and it went almost perfect! The PVB was working fine and had some water coming out initially when I turned No1 and No2 on, but soon the PVB stop having water coming out. I went through each zone at 3 minute each and all sprinkler heads came up with no problem. However, I noticed something and wasn't sure if it's a big deal or not.

    I noticed ONE of the 2 tiny screw-like knob next to the PVB and pipes (outside) was leaking tiny bit of water. Please see the link below on what I was referring to
    http://www.greentouchirrigation.com/...er_System.html
    In that link, scroll down to "ADDITONAL STEP" section and look at the figure #1, I believe that's called PVB test cocks. It has some type of screw in minus sign and is facing vertical direction (on both PVB test cocks.)

    The bottom one is leaking a tiny bit of water next to the screw (on my system.. it has a rubber cover on it.) If you look at the figure in that link, it's the white cap almost next to #1 circle of the far left side.
    Is that a problem with tiny water coming out? I noticed if I pull the rubber part a bit, more water is coming out. Perhaps it's the rubber that's bad?

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    DIY Junior Member greenbaypackersfan's Avatar
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    ah... seems like after doing a bit of online research. I realized my PVB Test Cocks are on the CLOSED position (vertical), they say to open it before Winterizing and keeping it at 45 degree angle when winterizing complete. Now it's spring, do I keep the PVB Test cocks closed or open when the system is running?

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    DIY Junior Member greenbaypackersfan's Avatar
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    Is it me or the guy in this video is turning the PVB test cocks incorrectly.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7Nr_w-9NSA
    In the link provided above, you see the guy left the first PVB Test Cock #1 in the CLOSED position "I" (on the right side, water pipe coming from the basement) and he left the PVB Test Cock #2 in the "-'' position or ON.... then he goes downstairs to turn the MAIN VALVE on.
    I am baffled as to how to position the PVB Test cocks. I know the valves outside needs to flow with the pipe direction (that I got it down.) but what about the PVB test cocks?????
    My sprinkler system is running fine now with both PVB Test Cocks in the CLOSED position. I noticed No 1 (on the right side, water pipe supplied from the MAIN VALVE coming from the basement) has a slight leak but the PVB Test #2 is fine....

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    Irrigation Contractor Fireguy97's Avatar
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    You might want to turn the leaking test just a touch to stop the leak. The rubber cover is just a dust cover.
    Glad that everything worked out.

    Mick

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