It’s that time of year again when home improvement centers begin touting products and claims to make grass greener and lawns more luxurious; the type of lawns that homeowners dream for, even in Arizona. The truth of the matter is, applying top-of-the-line products is almost useless without an effective water sprinkling system.
Dragging a hose back and forth across any size lawn gets old pretty fast, so why not make your life easier by installing sprinklers? The DIY process of installing a sprinkler system really isn’t that difficult. Depending on your DIY work experience, the job could take up to two weekends, or 16-20 hours to complete, so plan accordingly.
Installing Sprinklers: First Things First
Residents are required by the City of Phoenix to pull a permit in order to install an in-ground sprinkler system. Unfortunately, the permit form cannot be accessed online. You must appear in person to fill out a residential permit application, and to present two copies of your plans, (even though you will keep one of the copies). That’s the rule.
Additionally, before beginning to dig, it is imperative that you know where electric cables or gas lines are buried. Contact the utility companies and request they flag those spots in your yard.
Installing Sprinklers: Configure a Plan
Most manufacturers will help you map out a yard plan diagram. In many cases those plans will include a template on which you may sketch out pipe placement. The manufacturer will also include a list of each item you will need for installing the sprinkler system, down to the connectors you need to purchase.
Water pressure plays a significant role for precise targeting and ground saturation. Most sprinkler systems require 10 to 13 gallons of water per minute (gpm), and 30 to 35 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure.
Sprinkler heads pop-up when the water is released and then disappear from sight when the automatic sprinkler system turns off. Check with your water utility company to determine water pressure, or you may measure it yourself.
Installing Sprinklers: Furrows
You must tap into your home’s water source, which means locating the main pipe and accessing the water line. Tap into the main service line or take an easier route by connecting to an existing outdoor spigot, if there is one.
Dig shallow ditches with a spade (hard way) or rent a gas-powered machine called a trencher. Keep the furrow depth between 6 and 12 inches. Prior to digging, and with your drawing plan in hand mark out trench locations. Use wooden flags, plastic stakes, or even white spray paint to outline where you will dig.
Installing Sprinklers: Connecting
This is where the job becomes interesting and perhaps a bit more challenging. If you find it is too challenging for your DIY work experience or you do not have enough time, then by all means, call in a professional plumber.
Forging ahead will require you to:
- Cut into the main water line
- Splice in a tee (using PVC cement and primer)
- Glue in a 90-degree PVC elbow onto PVC adapter (male)
- Thread the adapter into the existing tee of the main water line.
- If the main water line is copper, you will solder on a copper tee
Installing Sprinklers: Valves and Lay Pipe
You should have previously dug a trench from the main water line to the installation spot for the sprinkler’s valve box. At the end of this trench, dig out a hole that is more than a foot deep (about 18 inches) and at least two to three feet long.
Allow for the lid of the box to fit flush with the grass. Before placing in the valve box, line the hole with two inches of gravel. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and steps for gluing the manifold, attaching zone valves. Place the manifold in the box.
One end of the valve manifold assembly will be attached to the main water supply line. Attach PVC pipe to the open end and continue pipe placement along the trench, using tee connectors when necessary. Flush water through the pipes to get rid of any debris, and then install sprinkler heads. Keep the heads level with topsoil. Fill in the trenches, covering pipes.
Installing Sprinklers: Timer
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions very closely. Install the controller by connecting wires to timer terminals accordingly.
At each step involving pipe installation turn the water on to test whether it’s flowing as it should be. A final tip may be to have a friend or professional to stand by and give help when needed. Still need a Gilbert plumber? Ask Johnny D today!