Sprinkler heads not popping up. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Discussion in 'Irrigation / Sprinkler Forum' started by hugh71158, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. hugh71158

    hugh71158 New Member

    Aug 7, 2020
    Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA.
    Hi all,

    my first post. :)

    So a freeze split open my pressure vacuum (I think that's it's name) and the system was dormant for three years. I decided to get it going again, and fitted new parts.

    A couple of heads have been changed due to obvious mower damage, but all in all it's coming along. Eight zones are doing as they should. One of the two remaining doesn't shut off, though it's a little weird - a couple of heads retract, but three others keep going. I have to turn off the water to stop it, and it runs again when the water is turned back on. Solenoid maybe?

    But my main issue is shown in the vide at the link below.

    You may have trouble with my embarrassed video mumbling, so here's the thing.

    There are 4 heads on this zone, two are the originals and work fine. The other 2 weren't working and I replaced them with new heads yesterday. And they don't work either!

    I found a leak in the pipe and repaired it, thinking that would solve things. It didn't.

    I don't know if these heads are numbers 1 and 2 in the run, or 3 and 4.

    Is there anything I can try to pinpoint the issue?

    Thanks in advance! (VIDEO LINK BELOW)


  2. HudsonDIY

    HudsonDIY Member

    Jun 19, 2019
    Hudson, Florida USA
    What you've written is a little confusing since there are 5 heads in the video.

    The list of "could be's" is long.

    #1 Head 3, 4 and 5 could be plugged with trash. Did you flush the line "before" installing the new heads? If there was garbage in the line (which is highly likely with a leak repair) and you installed a new head they are now plugged with garbage.

    #2 There could be an obstruction or leak in the line between head 2 and 3 although the first two heads seems to be working too well for there to be a substantial leak.

    If it were me I would remove all the heads, turn the line on and flush it out well. You could test the heads on a known working zone to be sure they are free of obstructions or make yourself a fitting to connect the head to a garden hose. I've made one of these for myself to test heads, that way you can be sure they operate properly.

    Once you are sure all the heads are clean and flow and all the lines where the heads connect flow freely you can reassemble everything and you should be golden.
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  4. hugh71158

    hugh71158 New Member

    Aug 7, 2020
    Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA.
    View attachment 65015


    thanks for the response.

    I made it a little confusing - there are only 4 heads. What is in position 3 in the video isn't a head, I was just noting that this was where a leak was repaired.

    Yes, I was thinking about adding a pipe to each location to test water flow through the pipe (without getting more stuff falling into an open connection) Connecting the heads to another zone will work well, I changed a couple so everything is already loosened up.

    Heads 1 & 2 working well, and no sign of any water rising from the ground on the way to head 3 is what has confused me. The two new heads performed immediately in the way that the ones I took off did, making me think that I didn't introduce anything new in the way of blockages. But maybe.

    My zone that isn't switching off - I had to literally dig up the cover to the valve box, and everything is completely covered with earth (see pic). That may be stopping the solenoid from operating. It's a mess. I'll have to take out the earth very carefully, and perhaps create an area with pebbles surrounding the box, or pavers, or whatever.

    I wanted to ask one other thing. I had a leak somewhere else, and repaired it. But there seems to be a VERY small seepage. Like not even a drip, just a small weep. I started to cover it over, then stopped to monitor it a little more, you can see from the pic there is a little moisture present, that's after 2 days.

    Would you dig it up and start over for a weep, or is it to insignificant to be an issue?

    Thanks a lot, I truly appreciate it.


    IMG_9714.jpg IMG_9715.jpg
  5. HudsonDIY

    HudsonDIY Member

    Jun 19, 2019
    Hudson, Florida USA
    We are going in a lot of different directions here.

    Finding the valves covered in earth is extremely common. They are usually below grade and mother nature has a habit of filling in any hole below grade. The valves are made to operate in those kind of conditions. I'd be more inclined to think the solenoid is defective or the diaphragm in the valve has broken. The solenoid should be easy to check. You can remove one from a working zone and swap it with the one that doesn't work properly.

    As far as the weep goes that depends on your level of OCD and frustration. A small leak often turns into a bigger one.

    I re-watched the video and I see what you mean about the one area not being a head. There's definitely something going on between head 2 and 3. You say the other eight zones are working as they should so I have to assume water pressure is good enough to drive four rotor heads. I really think you need to get that third head off and turn the zone on to see what kind of flow you have there. Like you said you could get a long riser and attach in place of the head so as the pipe doesn't back fill with trash. The flow should shoot a good six feet or more into the air.
  6. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Oct 28, 2009
    Orlando, Florida
    Maybe just to iterate HudsonDIY comments.

    First I would dig all around the valve boxes and remove them, dig out all the first to expose the valve, reassemble for a clean installation. You'll need to look after it to see if water sits in it and doesn't drain. You do not want the water to freeze around the valve. If it doesn't drain then put dirt back into the box.

    There is definitely a plugged up pipe. Usually a small stone will get into the pipe, hit an obstruction, like an elbow, and any dirt that got into the pipe with a stone or pebble plugs up as mud. I also have seen mold growth inside long unused pipes that will plug up things.

    The picture of the polypipe barb nibble fitting, notice how small it is compared to the pipe itself. Open that up, check and flush the lines. You may have to remove all of the three sprinklers not getting water and flush them out. If still no good, with a garden hose back flush the line from the sprinkler connection. If you have a compressor better yet.
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