A sprinkler irrigation system can be incredibly beneficial in maintaining a beautiful landscape and minimizing waste from manual watering. Whether you already have one installed or you're considering a purchase, you need to learn a little about water pressure and how it can affect your home and irrigation system. If it runs too low or too high, you're going to have problems down the road. Here are the best ways to make sure your sprinkler system has the right water pressure during the watering season.
Measure Your Water Pressure
It's important to start with a basic reading of your home's water pressure so that you know what you're dealing with. This is particularly true if you're getting ready to install your new sprinkler system. Knowing what your home's water pressure is will let you know if you need to make adjustments.
To get a measurement, turn off any running water in your home. This includes everything, even dishwashers and washing machines. Make sure you don't have any toilet leaks or dripping faucets that could skew your reading.
Next, attach a water pressure gauge to the outdoor faucet where you normally attach a garden hose. Turn the water all the way on and take several readings throughout the day. If you have more than one outdoor hose attachment, take readings at all the locations. The reason for measuring the pressure at various times throughout the day is that your pressure will vary, depending on usage in the local area. In other words, when lots of other residents are using water, there will likely be a drop in pressure. Normal readings run between 40-70 psi (pounds per square inch). When calculating the overall water pressure, you're going to look at the lowest reading. This number will determine how many sprinkler heads you can use in your system and whether or not you'll need a regulator or a pump.
Pressure Too High
If the water pressure in your home is too high (greater than 100 psi), it could damage your pipes, your appliances inside the home, and your sprinkler system. Before taking a water pressure measurement, you may be clued in that the water pressure is too high when your sprinklers spray out a mist or fog instead of a nice, steady stream of water.
To fix this problem, simply buy and install a water pressure regulator. This sort of system will decrease the pressure right where the water comes out. Install the regulator right beyond the main shut-off valve for the sprinkler system. Also make sure the regulator is adjustable so you can change the downstream pressure in the future if needed.
Pressure Too low
If the water pressure in your home is less than 40 psi, you're not going to get good use out of a sprinkler system. Water may dribble out, but you certainly won't get a good, hard spray. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem, whether you have city water or own a well.
An irrigation pump is something that can be installed to increase the water pressure to your sprinkler system, helping it run more efficiently and preventing the water pressure in your entire home from dropping even further every time the sprinkler runs.
The great thing with irrigation pumps is you will benefit from them when washing your car or boat as well as hosing down lawn furniture or farm equipment. There are several different types of pumps, and they include but are not limited to the following:
- Surface Centrifugal. Most common; installed above-ground; must be primed with water; runs on electricity or fuel.
- Submersible. Installed under water; highly efficient; no need for priming; low maintenance; fairly quiet; ideal for wells; runs on electricity only.
- Turbine. A type of under-water centrifugal pump; highly efficient; good for large pump applications; fairly quiet; good for wells; electricity or fuel powered.
- Propeller. Portable; doesn't need to be primed; cannot generate suction so must be installed at the surface of the water level; runs on electricity or fuel.
Before deciding what kind of pump you need or determining if a regulator is indicated for your sprinkler system, consult with an irrigation professional who can help you make the right choice.