View Full Version : We've all had these before

Dirty Water
04-07-2006, 10:28 PM
Did a service call today, customer had a system installed by a rival company one year ago.

Wanted some hydrants installed, and for us to fix many problems with poor coverage...or so it seemed.

When I got there, the fun began.

I wasn't able to fire half the zones from the timer ($59 Home Depot Orbit Timer), so I had to find the valves (all in 6" round boxes, no manifolds) around the yard and fix numerious wiring problems before I got that working.

Once the zones were coming on, I discovered a cracked male adapter on one valve (valve box was resting on it), so I repaired that. I had to find the shutoff to do this, when I found it, it was simply a PVC ball valve, no backflow at all :dizzy:

Fired it up, it was a drip zone, fixed 6 breaks in the drip tubing.

I had to move a bunch of heads in the backyard, all of them were set too low, and in odd places. Got decent coverage after a hour or so.

Found a real winner on one, Hunter PGP, set too low and it wasn't retracting...When I looked closer I discovered that the nozzle was installed upside down and the two ears where keeping it from closing...And this company considers themself professionals

The real fun began when I got the front yard. One zone had about 10 rotors on it and 5 sprayheads...Matched Precipitation anyone? The odd thing is that the sprayheads should have been rotors given their location.

There were numerous breaks that I had to repair before I could get an idea of how bad the pressure situation was.

I started replacing the sprayheads and discovered that they didn't bother to use swing joints on the front yard....:dizzy:

The sprayheads were all the HD orbit sprays except for one, which was a ancient brass rainbird popup...No clue why that was in there.

The next zone over was supposed to water a roughly 60'x80' area. They accomplished this by using about 25 sprayheads....Of course, none of them did anything but pop up 1" and pee out. I'm coming back on monday to rework that zone into a rotor zone.

The only other thing to note is that I found 4 different types of glues on the fittings (yellow, black, Dark blue and light blue)...but the homeowner said that they haven't had anyone else there.

Weird...and frusterating. I hate having to be the bearer of bad news to home owners on how much they got ripped and what its going to cost to fix it.

Dirty Water
04-07-2006, 10:36 PM
Something else to note:

I found Rainbird 5000's, Hunter PGP's, K-rain 8000's and Orbits installed in this yard.

Jason Rose
04-07-2006, 10:41 PM
WOW, sounds like a nightmare! About like what a guy I know was installing... He has NO CLUE about how to install a system other than he had one in his own lawn and would work on it. I tried to get him to buy professional grade parts but he insisted on saving a few bucks and going to home cheapo for everything. I felt sorry for the people he was working for as in a couple three years they were going to have to spend big bucks having heads and valves replaced.

I started replacing the sprayheads and discovered that they didn't bother to use swing joints on the front yard....

Just curious, why does any home irrigation system NEED swing joints? I have NEVER seen them used around here ever. Only thing that some guys do is sometimes they will use funny pipe to go from the mainline to the head. First time I was ever introduced to one was on a golf course and those were 1 1/4" and 1 1/2" heads with huge equipment running over them. You will find nothing other than cut off risers used around here, older systems will have galvininized risers (which suck to remove).

Dirty Water
04-07-2006, 10:47 PM
Any commercial mower will rip a head right off a cut off riser.

Swing joints are the future, seems like your area is stuck in the past.

Jason Rose
04-07-2006, 10:54 PM
Any commercial mower will rip a head right off a cut off riser.

Swing joints are the future, seems like your area is stuck in the past.

Huh? I mow over thousands of heads installed on risers every week, never rip one off or out of the ground... Unless they are 2 or 3 inches too high and I forget about them and catch it with the deck. All risers are NOT equal though.

The irrigation supplier I frequnet keeps some of the 1/2" and 3/4" swing joints in stock now, but they are al configured to screw onto the mainline with the threaded fitting facing to the side, not up. Makes to sence to me, as there's no way to install them without a huge and deep hole. I bought a few a year or so ago and thought they were pretty clever until I discovered the problems with the installation of them.

04-07-2006, 11:21 PM
I agree...the entire state of Arizona is installed on close poly risers....and I think most of the heads are still in the ground after the mow crew gets done ;)..the only systems w/ swing joints were the ones we installed....well, not the only ones, but not many guys were spending the extra 2 bucks per head to do it like we were.

I prefer funny pipe myself....

Flow Control
04-08-2006, 12:02 AM
The company does not really sound like competition to me. That is why I wish there were some standards besides city code on backflows.

Dirty Water
04-08-2006, 12:50 AM
I should clarify that by swing joint I mean one that I made myself out of funny pipe, not that premanufactured ones.

I use a MPT x Barb fitting on the tee, (90 degree fitting if the heads are going right on the line, or a straight fitting if they are going out from it slightly) and then a marlex Streel El with a 90 Degree MPT X barb on the head. Using two fittings at the head gives you two axis's of movement, which lets you tilt the head any direction without twisting the funny pipe.

04-08-2006, 02:08 AM
I'm gonna turn my bud on to this site..I worked for him in florida over the winter he just got his contractors lic. and is out on his own "GPM Irrigation" Naples FL...the way we installed everything was pvc thin wall to head location, to a service "T" or "90" slip by thread, screw in a barbed by thread "90" take a little over a foot of funny pipe attach it make a loop with the funny under the head put another barbed by thread "90" for the head back fill it....for repairs and as u guys know the funny pipe gives a little better than pvc or risers, rotars and pop-ups..my bud is a total irrigation geek smart as heck I was very impressed...hes doing a "green-roof" project at "Bonita Bay Golf Com" they want to irrigate the roof with recycled rain water gathered from a gutter system in a huge tank on a poored slab at ground level...he has to devise a way to pump it up 35ft and get good coverage, they have 7 inches of soil up there and will have it covered with plants. I guess the plant life is supposed to insulate the interior of the building to save energy and be more efficient...
cya fellas

Flow Control
04-08-2006, 02:13 AM
Unless there are multiple GPM irrigation companies in Florida I may have seen one of his trucks in the Fall. I was driving cross state and remember seeing a GPM Irrigation truck and thinking that was a good name that I have never seen before.

Green Sweep
04-08-2006, 09:34 AM
Service calls like that, though frustrating, bring a smile to my face. You get what you pay for just like any other business. Go with the cheapest roofing estimate & wonder why you have shingles in your yard a year later? I've actually done service work like that on jobs that we bid on the initial installation! The trunkslammer was so much cheaper, we didn't have a chance. When all was said & done, between what the homeowner paid the trunkslammer & what he paid us to do it right, he spent more money than our initial bid. Hopefully, people learn from their mistakes.


04-08-2006, 02:04 PM
When I run into a system thats that bad as far as quality of installation and coverage , I simply explain to the customer that it would be cheaper in the long run to install a new one . I simply ask them if they want to pay service rates for 2 days and we MAY get the system to cover or do they want to pay a set price for a system that WILL cover with a 2 year warranty .

04-08-2006, 04:33 PM
If you had to fix 6 breaks in the dripline..then the whole drip needs replacing.

04-08-2006, 04:44 PM
If you had to fix 6 breaks in the dripline..then the whole drip needs replacing.

What?? Why??

04-08-2006, 05:38 PM
This is just something I have found to be true......
a Sheshovel drip irrigation trueism if you will.
6 breaks=line is weak..deteriorating or generally thrashed for some other reason be it human or animal.

04-08-2006, 06:44 PM
LOL.....What if the drip line is 500 feet long?

Another "replacer" vs "Repair technician".....

Do you also replace an entire valve if you can't troubleshoot the problem?

What about the timer? Replace that if you can't figure things out?

Those 6 breaks could have been freeze damage in low spots....could have been animal damage....could have been many things.

Don't throw out the car because the battery is dead....sheesh.

04-08-2006, 07:23 PM
Oh common..dripline is cheap and sso are the parts..I have ALWAYS found that with a line in that condition..YES replacement IS better for my customer than trying to run down and replace and patch and fix especially in a 500' line.I did not say it is necessary all the time.But in a situation that Dirty Water is talking about..if these guys were screwed up with their sprinkler system you bet they screwed up the drip too.You bet..Replace..less problems you will have to continue to patch and attempt to correct oin a system that was bad from the start.And NO I am not the type of person who replaces timers and valves because I cannot diagnose the problem...those problems are basic and their are limited things that can be wrong with them.With Drip there are soo many things you can dig up that's wrong you get to a point where it is more productive to replace it rather than play little fixit games with it..

04-08-2006, 08:52 PM
Yes dripline and parts are cheap..but labor isn't.

What if the client doesn't want to spend 1000 bucks to replace all the drip? Then what....refuse to repair it?

Truth of the matter is that more than likely the drip line is fine.....the install of the drip line was probably fine..a monkey could do it.....and the breaks were fixed and all is fine.

So DirtyWater saves the day and saves the client some money....shovelgirl quotes big dollars to replace the tubing, alienates a client, and doesn't get the work.

Your opinions are welcome....BUT...until you have walked in our shoes, meaning irrigation repairs for a living without any other ancillary offerings such as what you do for your main living....don't just assume replacing is the answer. Perhaps if it is a 50 foot run of tubing you might be on to something...but an extensive drip system with more than 50 plants or so...and you are way off base recommending the replacement of all the tubing without knowing anything else about the job. That client has gone through enough pain and suffering don't you think?


BTW....I still say your truck is cute....

04-09-2006, 12:01 AM
Well let's put it this way..when I probably don't get called in tell the dripline is 7 to 10 years old or older anyway.And it is past the point of no return..this is how I see them up here.People don't call tell real bad problems start happining and when I see them they
are in very bad shape..usually have been left exposed to the elements,aanimaals and pets have bitten holes all thru them,they are kinked or split or
have had the emmitors blown off all over.You may see new lines that need repair..I do not

04-09-2006, 12:08 AM
Did a service call today, customer had a system installed by a rival company one year ago.

Did you read the thread? Or do you just look for ways to insert your two cents? Are you in a competition with Hayes for most posts in a year?


04-09-2006, 12:30 AM
Yep....I agree......some days it feels like I'm reading someone's blog......


04-09-2006, 12:48 AM
She makes a valid point. If the entire system is trash, many times it is in the customer's best interest to perform a total replacement. Otherwise the drip zone may continue to nickle & dime the customer for years to come. However, maybe that is the price the customer pays for choosing an idiot to install the system in the first place. Bottom line is educate your customer and let them make the decision.

04-09-2006, 12:50 AM
please don't encourage her...the system wasn't trashed...I hate generalities......sheesh.

04-09-2006, 12:57 AM
The first post didn't make it sound like a well-oiled machine!

04-09-2006, 01:55 AM
I agree... 6 leaks in a drip system does not warrant replacing the entire drip line unless it was only about 10' long. That customer had already been taken for a ride and sure didn't need another bill shoved at him for "unnecessary repairs" because someone doesn't care enough to fix something that can be easily fixed. (Your front tire has a leak, but instead of fixing the leak we are going to have to change all four tires on your vehicle and also the spare.) It is not that difficult to cut a piece of drip line and put on a coupler or two. And putting a layer of mulch on the drip tubing will help protect it from the elements.

As Tony said, there are too damn many parts changers and not near enough troubleshooters in the irrigation industry. Look at the ads in the trade magazines - irrigation service repair tech wanted - 1 yr experience. Kinda makes ya wonder doesn't it?

04-09-2006, 02:06 AM
I knew the voices of reason would arrive eventually...where is HBFoxx when you need him....

Thanks Jer ;)

04-09-2006, 02:16 AM
There are no "repair Technician up here at all..In this area..if you don't diversify you are dead in the water..Now if you will stop taking every word I say so literally you will hear what I am saying to you.Your situations are different.But for the many years there were only two people who installed drip at all besides the homeowners.One was a Landscaper
the other did mainly lawn and garden maint and small installs.
I could go to a job 5 years after the landscaper had put in a new landscape with a drip system..and the drip had been installed so close to the plant or tree..that the root balls of almost every plant and tree had completely engulfed and buried the dripline over them.
Squeezed them so tight they cut off any flow in the line at all.That is after 5 years..in order to repair a system like that..you had to find the line on each side of ever plant...cut it of on both sides and couple in a new piece and punch in new emitters.
I attempted a few repairs on these and found it much less labor and just a bit more dripline to simply run a new line and place it where it would do the plant material the most good .
I am sure this has not been your situation..So I assure you I do not rip off my clients because of lack of knowledge and if they would like a "Irrigation Repair Tech" to do their repairs..they sure have that option...
but they would have to charge them 90 min windshield time every call+ labor and materials as well..so whatever they decide is fine with me,they find it less expensive to use me..
My drip installations are installed to last and take into consideration growth of the plant material as well.

04-09-2006, 11:11 AM
Hey Sheshovel, don't take that lying down! http://img122.imageshack.us/img122/3967/sheshovelavatarfallen1gm.gif

There are too many flavors of drip to make easy generalities. If the drip mainline is simple thinwall laid atop the soil, there is a real point at looking at replacement versus patching, especially if the existing line seems like it is deteriorating, and will keep needing repairs. You'd make a comparison for T&M and then choose.

I recall some difficult repairs made to some deeply buried poly pipe, of an odd sort that would break every year. In the end, replacement was the economical choice.

Dirty Water
04-09-2006, 02:19 PM
FWIW, the drips work fine sheshovel, The fact that I did the repair and not someone else meant you didn't get a bunch of dirt in the lines. The emmiters weren't clogged, and everyone is happy.

It was installed stupidly though. One distribution line on the top of the planting bed (.700 tubing) with miles of 1/4" tubing coming off, running across the bed and stopped with a emitter at each plant...two for each plant.

We try to run weave .700 tubing close enough that we can punch a ring of 1/4" x 6" spaced emitter tubing around the plant for equal watering, or punch in two emmiters. (not those shrubbler crap that Shovel raves about, netafim pressure compensating emmiters that actually drip a metered amount of water).

04-09-2006, 02:34 PM
Shrubblers are great! I especially love when someone installs them on every single plant in the entire yard! Yes!!! Did I mention I LOVE shrubblers...they are so cute the way they spray.....;)

Dirty Water
04-09-2006, 02:45 PM
I first noticed a shrubbler after I stepped on it and broke it.

Not a fan.

04-09-2006, 02:56 PM
Speaking of the 'step on it and break it' aspect of some drip, what kind of service life is being seen from drip systems done with individual emitters being tapped into a .700 line, with distribution tubing leading to an above-ground drip fitting with a 'bug cap' - I don't often see the 'suggested' six inches of mulch being laid over the drip tubing (according to a Rainbird guide) so I wonder how little cover one can get away with, before such a system becomes 'fragile'?

Dirty Water
04-09-2006, 03:01 PM
The only things I see break from traffic are Drip Microsprays and things like
shrubblers and other wimpy "emmiters".
In my other post I said Netafim, I meant to say Agrifim

We use a lot of 1/4"x6" emitter tubing by Agrifim, It will only break if you wack it with a shovel, like all drip.

The emmiters we use are Agifim (PC PLUS) and Netafim...both are similar as, these don't break either:


04-09-2006, 05:00 PM
That's just not true I see the top of those smaller ones in your pic fall off or deteriorate and break
all the time..I don't install Drip like that pic above either....If you do...well then GOOD LUCK.Sprinkler guy..go back too your sprinkler installations you know not of what you speak..and you may dream of kissing my rosy red behind too.Shrubblers are not crap...maybe the ones you have looked at..are
maybe the one that Dirty crushed with his boot was,
but I have had NO problems with them..havent had to have"Repair Technitions"called in to fix my systems.Tell you what Sprinklerguy if you ever plan to come-up this way..I'll take you with me and show you how a good system is installed..and I will show some old drip work around here and teach you how to tell if a system needs replacing
N/Charge to you K?Fair?In the mean time your opinion of my work is a mute point.

04-09-2006, 06:17 PM
Is it really rosy? :) http://img454.imageshack.us/img454/6204/sheshovelavatarfallenrosy2gn.gif

The diagram above is like what Rainbird shows in their Xerigation book, excepting that Rainbird always diagrams it laid on bare soil, followed by heavy mulching. I assume it's the mulching more than the equipment that reduces/eliminates breakage. I'd favor that sort of install, on the basis of being able to actually view the dripping, and know the irrigation is functioning.

Rainbird also has more heavily-constructed multi-emitter housings, allowing one to dispense with the thinwall pipe, and gain some durability on the drip install.

Most of what I encounter on service is buried Netafim emitter tubing. You know it stops working when the plants die.

04-09-2006, 06:22 PM
WETTBOOTS!!!You took her pants off..you naughty man!Yes it is rosy just like in your pic..yes I cover with mulch.

04-10-2006, 09:58 AM
The photos of the shrubbler pattern looks a lot like the Rainbird adjustable stream microsprays. No reason they couldn't perform reliably. It seems to me that nearly every drip install I see falls short of the textbook diagrams, if only for too little mulch coverage. Also, the use of fitration and pressure regulation comes into play. The use of 1/4 inch emitter tubing would be subject to problems if the thinwall connection point (the weak point of all this drip stuff) took a hit. Of the two connections shown above, I'd favor the uncover emitter, so that nothing on the surface could affect the flow.

Wet Yet
04-10-2006, 09:52 PM
Sounds like a "side job" done the same way that Johnny Cash put together his '41-'42-'43-'44.... automobile. I ran across one recently very similar to the one your writing about. Actually had the company's logo sticker on the controller, the company the culprits admittedly worked for full time. EVERYTHING was various and used material. The homeowner thought he was getting a deal. It's taken 2 visits to accomplish decent coverage, figuring out why water hammer was rattling the walls in his house, installing and permitting the correct backflow for his county,and I could still spend 2 days revamping this nightmare.
My billing has been substantial compared to the installation cost. I've tried to help the guy out and he is appreciative.

The interesting part is that I'm familiar with the competitor and he truly doesn't care if they do the side work. Even allows them to use the trencher occassionaly.
Go figure. I'm a service guy so it keeps me in business but it's too bad for the homeowner.

Wet Yet
04-10-2006, 09:54 PM
Posted reply to the wrong thread.


Wet Yet

04-10-2006, 10:09 PM
Was wondering what you were talking about????????

04-10-2006, 11:24 PM
back to install vs. repair to frustrate Tony some more....

I went through a lot of Rainbird valves this week so yesterday I only had one left in my truck (my mistake)

I had one lady who had two diaphrams go bad but I could only gut one. It looked easy enough to dig up and replace the one valve but ended taking over an hour because of MULTIPLE murphy laws... I cut her a deal because I felt bad that it took me way longer than it should have.

also... when you replace the guts of a valve do you charge for a whole valve?

I buy extra solenoids but not other extra repair parts... but if you don't charge for the whole valve you are going to have a bunch of leftover nonmatching parts.

04-11-2006, 12:44 AM
Are you in a competition with Hayes for most posts in a year?

Don't bring ME into this conversation please. If you're going to kick butt or get yours kicked then do it on your own dime.