sprinkler system project

Discussion in 'Irrigation / Sprinkler Forum' started by v1rtu0s1ty, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. v1rtu0s1ty

    v1rtu0s1ty DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    176
    Location:
    Chicago IL
    Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum. I am very willing to learn. I would like to put a sprinkler system for my lawn. Right now, there is no sod yet. So hopefully, I will be able to put one before the start putting sod. I have seen how sprinkler system works but have no idea which parts are best, what pipes are good, zoning, etc. Can someone please help me on what I need to purchase, how many heads and what type of head is reliable. Also, how many new pipes should I add to the 1" supply in my basement for my lawn? Also is there any calculator that can help me how many heads, and distance of each heads? Since I haven't done this kind of project, I'm sure I have missed many questions that I might not be aware of.

    Oh, do you have diagrams that I can look at? That would be awesome!

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Neil
  2. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,053
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Start with the basics. Most of the big sprinkler companies, like Toro and Rainbird, have some design info on their web sites. Some will even design your system for you if you submit a detailed plot of your yard.

    The process starts with mapping out your property carefully, and measuring your water pressure and flow rate (in gallons/minute). You can buy a water pressure gauge that screws on to a hose bib for $10 at HD. You measure GPM by timing how long it takes to fill a gallon bucket. Again, all of this info can be found at sprinkler companies' web sites, or in books you can find at home centers.

    No one on this site can tell you how many heads to buy; the question about changing your water supply in the basement will depend on the answers to the pressure and GPM measurements mentioned above.
  3. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    One bit of advice:

    Plan your beds and other landscaping as much as possible first. Consider running one zone as a drip zone close to the perimeter of the home where you're likely to have mulch beds/plants. It's the most efficient means of watering. Doesn't work well for a lawn.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,237
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    piping

    EVERY pipe you add to your incoming pipe in the basement for your irrigation system has to have a vacuum breaker, and not the $9.95 Champion that HD sells. So your system will normally only have one connection to the house piping and then ALL the zones will be connected to the outlet of the vacuum breaker. EVERYTHING about the system has to be engineered, not guessed at, so having an irrigation company design the layout would be the best for you. The connection to the house piping is very critical to avoid health safety issues so be sure to do it exactly right.
  5. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    City Water or Well

    Are you supplied by city water or a well?

    If you are on a well, you must design the system so that your well and pump will supply the water. The biggest irrigation problem we see on this forum is that the well is inadequate or that the pump and tank are mismatched to the irrigation system so that the pump cycles too frequently.
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,395
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    There are several holes you can fall into. Pipe sizes, location, backflow prevention, gpm, and sprinkle types are just some of the things that have to be properly considered. You would be well advised to have your system professionally designed. This is frequently a free service provided by supply houses on the condition you buy all of the materials from them. You need a scale drawing of your property and details of the water source. There is far more involved than just hooking a bunch of PVC pipe together and connecting it to your water supply.
  7. v1rtu0s1ty

    v1rtu0s1ty DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    176
    Location:
    Chicago IL
    I'm going to measure it this weekend. I hope it doesn't rain. Is it reliable to measure the water pressure/flow in one of the faucet outside my house? The reason I'm asking is because, looking at the pipe in the basement for that faucet, it's only 1/2" copper. Does water pressure/flow change between a 1/2" and 1" pipe? Does the water pressure gauge that HD sells reliable?
  8. v1rtu0s1ty

    v1rtu0s1ty DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    176
    Location:
    Chicago IL
    Thanks for the heads-up.
  9. v1rtu0s1ty

    v1rtu0s1ty DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    176
    Location:
    Chicago IL
    Just curious, can you please send me a link where I can see it on a website on how it looks like?
  10. v1rtu0s1ty

    v1rtu0s1ty DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    176
    Location:
    Chicago IL
    It is city.
  11. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,395
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Static water pressure can be measured anywhere on the system. However, pressure is only one aspect of the equation. The size of the supply (meter or pump) dictates the volume you can get out. Pressure enters into to this, but a very small pipe under high pressure will only deliver a relatively small volume of water where as a large diameter pipe can deliver mega amounts under low pressure. Another factor that has to be considered is friction loss, typically designers start from the control valve with a fairly large diameter pipe and progressively reduce this as the distance increases. This may not be rocket science, but don't kid yourself, there is a great deal of science involved in properly designing an irrigation system. While I seldom find reason to disagree with HJ's advice, I must take exception to his statement that all zones have to have an individual vacuum breaker. This would work, but the most common way to avoid cross contamination is with a single backflow preventor which is install shortly after the irrigation is divided from the main line. Again I would stress, get this designed by the pros. It's FREE, and it will be done right. BTW, the right time to install an underground system is before the sod is laid.
  12. v1rtu0s1ty

    v1rtu0s1ty DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    176
    Location:
    Chicago IL
    Since I'm in Illinois just about 40 miles of Chicago, can you please recommend a website where I can submit the dimension of the ground in order for me to get a FREE design? Also, how deep should pipes be in the ground?

    Thanks.
  13. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Google {irrigation system design} and you'll find a few thousand such sites. I'd glance at them and pick the friendliest. You could winnow them out at the search results page by looking for a known name in the link (e.g., toro, hunter, etc.).
  14. v1rtu0s1ty

    v1rtu0s1ty DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    176
    Location:
    Chicago IL
  15. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,395
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Find a irrigation supply company in your area and take you drawings and specs in to them. You don't need to do this online.
  16. v1rtu0s1ty

    v1rtu0s1ty DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    176
    Location:
    Chicago IL
    I will do that sir. I will find the dimensions of my house and where it is located in the lot, like how far it is from the borders, and so on. So far, I have 158'x80' lot. I will also draw this to a graphing paper where each square is like 1'x1' or 3'x3' or whatever the graphing paper can accomodate. :D
  17. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,395
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    You'll want to include buildings, shrubs, flower beds, trees, sidewalks, driveway etc.. Also note the location and size of the water meter, static water pressure, size of main water line. Your grid map is an excellent choice.
  18. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,237
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    While I seldom find reason to disagree with HJ's advice, I must take exception to his statement that all zones have to have an individual vacuum breaker. This would work, but the most common way to avoid cross contamination is with a single backflow preventor which is install shortly after the irrigation is divided from the main line.

    You wouldn't this time either if you had read the comment properly. He had indicated that he was going to make multiple connections to his supply line. I therefore said that EVERY connection he made relative to the irrigation system would need an approved vacuum breaker, BUT that one connection with a vacuum breaker would normally suffice. Probably the only real reason to use two would be if there were two independent systems that would be better served by separate connections because they were widely separated and making two connections would be easier than running a new pipe that far.
  19. v1rtu0s1ty

    v1rtu0s1ty DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    176
    Location:
    Chicago IL
    hi everyone,

    I spoke to my officemate this morning. Is it true that in winter, you have to take out all the water from your sprinkler system?

    By the way, I finished measuring my house and lawn. Is it bad if I'm off by 1 foot? I will finalize the drawing tomorrow. Can you please recommend me what gauge to buy so I can measure the PSI from one of the faucets outside?

    Thanks,

    Ronneil
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2006
  20. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,395
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    No, you don't have to empty the pipes in the winter, Mother Nature will do it for you. Seriously, yes, the pipes have to be emptied in the fall. They make automatic drains that open when the water is turned off. This means every time you irrigate, the pipes will drain. Problem is, I don't trust them and if you don't have a drain in every low spot, you have the potential of a broken pipe. The best way to winterize the sprinkler system is to have it blown out with air. Yard services do this for a fee. In my area, it's around $50. I have a modest size compressor in my shop and can blow out my own lines, but most people have to hire it done. As far as a pressure gauge is concerned, most any hardware store will have them. They cost around $10 and can be fitted with a hose connection so it can be screwed onto any hose bib. They can also be plumbed into the line. It doesn't matter where in your system the gauge is applied, the pressure will be the same. You're scale drawing does not have to be as accurate as a professional survey. It should be pretty close, but a few inches or a foot plus or minus won't make any significant difference.
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