How To Repair A Sprinkler Head

Replacing a sprinkler head broken by a lawnmower is easy to do. Sometimes the pipe leading to the sprinkler head also needs to be repaired.

So you just ran over a sprinkler head and you've bruised your toe from kicking the wheels on the lawnmower. Never fear! Replacing a sprinkler head is not too difficult - although it's safe to assume that you will get wet in the process of replacing it.

The first thing you need to do is locate the broken head. More than likely, you did not discover that the head was broken until you turned the water on and that particular head looked like a geyser had just been formed in your front yard.

To save water and time, find someone to help you. This person only needs to stand at the timer switch for the sprinkler system. Their job is to turn the water on, and then turn it off once you've located the damaged head and the place that it came from (that geyser in your front lawn).

Have your friend turn the water on while you locate the sprinkler head and where it came from. Once you have found where the head came from, use a stake or some sort of marker so that you know where the sprinkler head is supposed to go. Trim the grass around the sprinkler head and be careful not to get dirt or clippings into the waterline.

Take the broken sprinkler head to your local hardware or home improvement store and find one that looks like it. Asking the person working in the hardware department to help you is perfectly ok. Come home and screw the new sprinkler head onto the pipe where the old sprinkler head once was. Most sprinkler heads simply screw on and off. If yours does not screw on and off, then you will need to read the section on fixing cracked or broken PVC pipe, to see how to replace your sprinkler head.

Have your friend turn the sprinkler system on once more to ensure that the sprinkler is working properly. It is very easy to get dirt or clippings into the line. If this happens, you will not get the right amount of pressure into the sprinkler and it will not be functioning properly. Turn the sprinkler system off and flush the line. To flush the line, take the head off of the sprinkler and let water flow through, hopefully taking the dirt or grass with it. You might need to remove a different head than the one you replaced, as the dirt and or grass can get pushed down the water pipe, beyond the broken head.

You will also want to examine the PVC* pipe that the sprinkler head is attached to, so as to ensure that it did not get cracked when the mower blade struck the sprinkler head. To do this you will need to carefully dig out the dirt from around the sprinkler head. This will expose the PVC pipe that it is attached to. Check the pipe for breaks or cracks. If you find a break or crack you will need to replace that section of PVC pipe.

To replace the section of broken or cracked pipe, you will need to use a hacksaw to saw off that section just below the break or crack. Go back to the hardware or home improvement store and get a section of PVC pipe long enough to replace the broken section, along with a coupler and an end piece that is both threaded and the correct size for your sprinkler head. You will also need to purchase some PVC cleaner and some PVC cement.

Remove any burrs left on the PVC pipe, from when you cut the pipe. This can be done with some sandpaper. Clean off the dirt on the end of the old pipe, using the PVC cleaner, you will also want to clean off the new section of PVC pipe. The PVC cleaner is typically purple, so you can tell if you missed any spots. Swab the outside of the broken PVC pipe with PVC cement, you will want to coat a one-inch section of pipe. Swab the inside of the coupler, just one side of the coupler, then place the swabbed section of the coupler onto the swabbed section of the pipe. The coupler should cover at least one inch of the old pipe. Swab PVC cement onto the inside of the coupler and onto the outside of a one-inch section of the new pipe, and push the new pipe into the coupler. Now swab the other end of the new PVC pipe, and the inside of the screw adaptor and push them together. Wait at least 5 minutes before screwing on the new sprinkler head. Read the directions on the can of PVC cement to see how long you need to wait before you can run water through the line to test the new sprinkler head. Once you have successfully tested the new sprinkler head, and removed any debris that might have gotten inside the water line - bury the exposed PVC pipe.

*PVC stands for - polyvinyl chloride, which is the chemical compound that the pipe is made out of. PVC pipe is white with blue lettering on it typically telling the diameter of the pipe.

© High Speed Ventures 2011