How to Overcome Common Irrigation Challenges
By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | September 18, 2016
As hoteliers, you rely on your irrigation systems to help protect the investment you've made on your property's landscape. It is critical for the overall health and appearance of your landscape that the irrigation system is properly installed, operated, and maintained. Otherwise, your system is at risk of wasting water and damaging your property.
Scheduling a technician to perform routine maintenance checks can ensure early detection of a problem, increase the efficiency of your irrigation system, and conserve water. Here are three common challenges grounds managers often face with their irrigation system, and how technicians overcome them.
There is a Problem With the Controller
The controller essentially tells the irrigation system when to turn on and off, and how long to stay on. Because the controller acts as the central nervous system of the irrigation system, a technician typically starts by examining the controller when diagnosing a problem. Before the technician inspects the system to see if there are any problems, he or she will first determine whether the controller is still on and functioning. If it's working properly, the issue could be something as routine as a programming error. This can cause a number of malfunctions, including the irrigation zones running for too short a period of time or too long. To fix this, the technician will go into the system and confirm that the start and end times are correct – and double check the a.m. and p.m. settings (a common mix-up that can cause major issues). They will also take the opportunity to delete any older set times that are no longer needed.
Another issue that can affect the controller is a power surge, as it can cause the system to either freeze or fail completely. If this happens, the technician will need to reset the system. He or she will do this by simply unplugging the controller for 2-3 minutes and then plugging it in again. If the system has a backup battery, it will have to be unplugged as well. After resetting, the technician will check the system to see if it has reverted back to its default settings. It this is the case, it will have to be reprogrammed to the desired start and stop times. In the event the controller has been damaged by the power surge it will likely need to be replaced.
There is a Leak
If your irrigation system has a leak, it's likely related to either valves, pipes, or joints. Valves can leak, or "weep", if there is a failure with the solenoid. Solenoids can fail due to age, if there is too much heat, or if they are compromised by debris. Damaged pipes or joints, on the other hand, are usually a result of invasive tree roots, freezing and thawing, a shovel or mower, or simply from wear and tear over time. There are a few visible warning signs of a leaky pipe or broken joint, including flooded turf or areas that are much greener than other areas. Sometimes, however, the leak is so far underground that the only way to detect the problem is to start digging. This can be disruptive to your guests' stay, be expensive to fix, and cause a mess while the problem is being addressed.
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