Hitting Sprinkler heads ....

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by KLMlawn, Aug 18, 2002.

  1. KLMlawn

    KLMlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 443

    OK, here is another issue that I am sure everyone has had to deal with at one time or another.
    Have this customer for two seasons, always pays, never really had any problems, till two weeks ago. After mowing, I was going around with the weed whip and saw I must have chopped a head off one of the sprinklers. I spoke with the customer and told him that I didn't see it and it must not have recessed all the way that morning, but unfortunately if they don't go down all the way and accidently get cut, it really isn't my fault and that he should contact his normal sprinkler guy to replace the head.
    He said that this season has been the worst he has ever had with having sprinkler head not working or being damaged and that it must be the way I am mowing or my machines. I told him the truth, he is about the only customer I have that seems to be having a problem ( has had to replace two other heads so far this year and both were reinstalled about an inch higher than the previously existing grade) and that he will need to have the heads lowered. Either I can do that or he can have someone else do it but in order to avoid any issues with mowing and trimming, the heads ALL have to be installed at or slightly below grade.
    This week I showed up and he had every head on his property with a stake next to it and wants me to mow around each of them and then go back and weed whip around them ... I told him that is that is what he wanted it would take more time and he would ahve to give me a few more dollars for the time and inconvenience ... he flatly refused, claiming he has "had a thousand landscapers mow his lawn over the years and that I am the first one to cause problems with his sprinkler heads".
    It is my opinion that if a customer has an "underground" sprinkler system, that unless the system is opperating, that all head in the lawn areas should be "underground"!!! If they are not installed at or slightly below grade or if they don't go back down all the way after that zone finishes, I really can't be held responsible. The customer hasa few options to get the real problem remedied ... pay me to lower them, pay his sprinkler guy to do the same, do it himself, or keep paying to have the heads replaced .... anyway you look at it there is time and money involved.
    How many of you have had similar situations and what have you done to solve this dillema?
     
  2. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,183

    Although I agree with you that everything should work perfectly......it never does!

    I have many yards that I have to walk and push the heads down.........why I don't know. Is it the spring? Do they need some WD-40 sprayed on them? I do it to avoid the issue you are in now. Once you know where they are it takes only a minute or two to push them down and no more worries. It doesn't sound like your going to win this battle so either give in or give it up.....I dang sure wouldn't be mowing around them and trimming after!
     
  3. KLMlawn

    KLMlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 443

    Well, I did suggest to him to lubricate the heads and that occasionally a small bit of dirt, sand or small roots get stuck and prevent them from going back down. To clarify, there have only been 3 heads needing replacement this season, and for the most part none of them appear to be sticking up when I come to mow, I do have a couple of other customers that have heads that stay all the way up in the air and of course I stop and step them back down, I certainly do not mow over and break them maliciously or on purpose. He also has a mix of head, some older Toro, Orbit, one Hunter, and some newer "Home Depot" Toro heads, which are junk. I told him he should have all of them changed to Hunter or at least Orbits, they are the best on the market right now and are easy to install and adjust. But NO GO ....
     
  4. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Posts: 1,540

    Not that this will solve the screwy sprinkler head situation, but...

    ...if the client said "I have had a thousand landscapers mow my lawn over the years..yada yada" I would have to wonder why that is.

    Why would this client go through a "thousand landscapers" especially if you are the only one in a thousand that has damaged his mis-matched sprinkler heads? :confused:

    And if you are the only LCO, out of a thousand, that has ever damaged his sprinkler heads then why does he have 4 different types of heads already in the lawn? :confused: :confused:
     
  5. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    Yep, me too. I wonder why that is?
     
  6. captdevo

    captdevo LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 932

    after 2 seasons, seems you'd know where the sprinkler heads were at by now!

    doesn't the sprinkler system...irrigation...... keep you working?

    i think i'd be more careful..........
     
  7. Brickman

    Brickman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,249

    First off if you break it then you fix it. Or pay to fix it. That is how I always did. Only after a few years I started fixing them my self. Carry a few $2 heads in the truck and no body even knows about it. It is not worth the fight of trying to claim that they weren't working properly and so you are not responsible. MANY times I would just fix some thing, even if it wasn't my fault, just to save the headache and hassle of dealing with the customer. As long as it was small peanuts. I always had a few parts with me, and would take care of the problem when there to mow.

    Second the last couple years I was in biz I did a ton of sprinkler repairs. And as was mentioned before it was probably grass or SAND that is holding the head from going the whole way down.

    Third, no matter whos fault it is the head got broken, there is no way that I would mow around and then go back and trim around EVERY head!!!!!!! So either he quits that or dump him. Sounds like he has tons of practice finding a new LCO.
     
  8. Alan Bechard

    Alan Bechard LawnSite Member
    Posts: 175

    We pretty much fix whatever we get accused of breaking. There are a couple of rules though and these are what we try and follow.

    If it is questionable, I will fix it, or, if after I look at it and I can see that it is plausible that we hit, threw, broke, mowed over it then we default to it is our responsiblitiy.

    I do not "pay" to have things fixed by someone else, that I did not get a chance to look at and either fix myself or to get someone of my choice to fix. An example, we mowed over a sprinkler head (we probably did) and the customer called somebody in to fix it without contacting us and sent us a bill for $400 for a sprinkler head. We aint paying that one!

    The guy calls me two weeks after he said we broke his side window in his car, he has had the window replaced, all the glass was still in the floorboard, The car was parked with the broken window away from us when they mowed (the customer said) When I asked how the rock hit the the drivers window on the far side he had no explanation, when I asked how the rock, and glass ended up inside the car when we were mowing on the other side he had no answer, all he had was a bill from the glass repair place that he said we needed to pay. Aint paying that one either.

    Customer called and said we broke the hose bib sticking out of their house, Hose is attatched to the thing and pulled tight, bib not screwed to the wall and bent over and leaking under the house, we do mow up against that area and had just mowed, It probably was not our fault but crawled up under the house and changed it out $15 or so and a done deal.

    Al B
     
  9. TurfGuyTX

    TurfGuyTX LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Posts: 648

    I also don't understand why after two seasons, you don't know where the sprinkler heads are located. I do know accidents unfortunately happen. Is this customer under contract? Our customers with contracts know that we are not responsible for damage for a faulty sprinkler. One that is above grade or doesn't retract falls into this category. We also carry an assortment of heads for the occasional need. I'll change one that is obviously not our fault if it means a better looking lawn. A few minutes will do wonder for customer satifaction. Good luck.
     
  10. KLMlawn

    KLMlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 443

    Yes, I do know where most of the sprinkler heads are, and most of the sprinkler heads are noth the problem, just a couple in the front and one in the back that seem to have ongoing troubles. He is also claiming that my tires are forcing the heads down and either cracking them and causing them not to pop back up, not just chopping the head off one.
    Honestly, I can understand many of your opinions that for the sake of the lawn, customer satifaction, and overall good will, to replace the damaged head would be best. The problem with that is, with this particular customer, I feel from his demeanor and attitude, that if you give him an inch he will want a mile. If I give in and replace this head, by the end of next season, I will have installed a completely new sprinkler system for him for free.
     

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