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How would you handle this?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by JimLewis, Oct 21, 2004.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    We did an irrigation system install 2 weeks ago. Job went great. Clients loved us and our work. Everything was groovy - like usual.

    Yesterday, I get a call from the homeowner. He says, "We have a small problem....Apparently, ever since you installed our irrigation system...whenever the irrigation system comes on, our neighbors' pipes start making a lot of noise - rattling and such. The water company installed a device that is supposed to help control that. But it hasn't worked. So we need you to fix the problem."

    My response, "Ummm.. Ok. So what you're referring to is 'water hammer'. I assume the water company installed a 'water hammer arrestor'. Water hammer is related to having too much water pressure going through their pipes. It's nothing that our company created or had anything to do with......."

    He responds, "Well, the water company told me that we share the same line or something so what you did to our line effects their water as well."

    My response, "I think you misunderstood. You guys don't share a mainline with your neighbors. But the entire neighborhood shares the same 'supply line'. And you share some of the water pressure in that supply line."

    He's a computer geek, so I coninued...."It's sort of like a Cable Modem. Your bandwidth goes down a little as more of your neighbors start using it. In the same sense, whe you use your water, their static water pressure decreases a little."

    He indicated that he understood that analogy but continued with, "Ok. But they didn't have it before you installed our irrigation system, so you need get this fixed this somehow."

    My response, "Well, you need to understand that it's not an irrigation contractor's responsibility to fix problems that were already present at neighboring properties. I understand they weren't seeing this effect as much before, but that still doesn't mean we caused it. The problem was always there - waiting to happen. It's a design flaw in their piping. There should probably be a pressure reducer installed or something. But that's not our responsibility."

    He continued, "Well, we just don't want to cause any problems. So if you could check into it and let us know what you can do...."

    I agreed that I'd look into it more. I think I'll call their water company and discuss it with them as well.

    Am I out of line here? I can't see any reason at all how we can be held responsible for this. But at the same time, we survive off of referrals. And these people love us. They've already referred 2 other people to us. I hate to lose them. I also would hate for them to take this any further if I didn't agreee to help (e.g. file a complaint with the contractors board, BBB, etc.)

    Finally, do you guys know of any device I could install in my client's line that would slow the delivery of water into their system - so as to minimize the water hammer the neighbors are experiencing?
  2. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,036

    when you say delivery of water do you mean flow, pressure or both?

    if you want to control the flow, I've found in some border line situations where there's just a little bit of water hammer that turning the flow control on the valve to where there's about half as much water going through solves the problem.

    I also found this on the rainbird site.


    The sound you are hearing is called waterhammer. This is something you will want to correct, as it can cause damage to your pipes and equipment over a period of time. If the water velocity in your pipes is too high, the valves may be slamming shut, causing the waterhammer. If you have flow control valves, turn them down to help to lessen the problem. Another way to alleviate this problem is to purchase a waterhammer suppressor at you local plumbing supply house and install it yourself. Using a larger supply line from the water source to the valves also helps reduce waterhammer. Another reason is if your sprinkler heads do not have check valves or the seal-o-matic (SAM) feature and are draining water out of the heads on the lowest point in the line. When the valve opens and sends water down this pipe, the water hits the air and crashes into fittings causing waterhammer.

    hope this helps.
  3. Green Care

    Green Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 530

    I don't think you were out of line you handle things pretty good there,don't want to mess up those referrals.
  4. Rotor-Man

    Rotor-Man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 126

    Referrals are the "Bread & Butter" of my business also, but these is quite a bit out of line in my opinion!! They expect you to fix the neighbor's water system problems when you have never done anything to their water mainline servicing the home? Who's to say the neighbor on the other side of them or across the street says the same thing!! The city, township, or whoever, is responsible for this , and surely should not come out of your pocket! That's a little bit to much to ask in my opinion!!
  5. DGI

    DGI LawnSite Member
    from SE Mich
    Messages: 173

    Just curious, how far are the homes set off of the easement? Could it be that there is one line coming off from the main which splits to the homes? I've seen this plenty of times.
  6. Dirt Daddy

    Dirt Daddy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    The whole situation sounds a bit strange, but try this to see if it is your system that is causing the problem. Take a couple of pressure gauges and hook one up to the neighbors hose bib and the other to your customers hose bib. Turn on and off all stations that you installed at your customers house. Have someone watching the gauges while all of this is going on to watch for spikes in the pressure. This will help you diagnose the water hammer problem if that is what it is.
    The problem is not pressure when referring to water hammer but water velocity. You may have over designed some of the sprinkler systems with regard to the quantity of water they require to run compared to the amount available at the water sourse (the water meter). Most home systems where the water meter is 5/8" to 3/4" should be designed not to exceed 10-12gpm or 50 psi. If you are over those limits, you may want to rethink your design parameters by using fewer heads per valve and more valves per system.
    If you find it is your fault, fix the problem, eat the expense, and learn the lesson. The right thing to do is always the right thing to do!
  7. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,752

    Is there a master valve on your system ? if not , add one with flow control , if so change the master valve to a valve with flow control. Run thru all the zones and adjust the flow contorol down to as low as you can go with the system still operating properly . Another solution, a small expantion tank ( looks like a real small well tank) and install it just before the backflow ( I have put them on the drain down before the backflow ) I have had a similar problem and this worked.
  8. activelandscaping

    activelandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 241

    Don't, you don't want to place yourself in the middle of this. The answer is:

    " I understand your concern but it sounds like he has a plumbing problem.
    All our systems are installed according to code and Mfg. specifications, we install dozens of systems using the same specs. and don't have any problem with neighborhood plumbing. I'm sure you can understand that in order to install a good sprinkler system at a fair price, we can't afford to solve unrelated plumbing issues.
    It is possible that they didn't open his street valve all the way, you might advise him to call the city and have them check it. If the street valve isn't the problem then it must be his plumbing, but it really doesn't have anything to do with our work. He really needs to contact the people that installed His system. If you have any problems with your system, please be sure to give us a call and we'll be right out. Take care now and have a great summer ".

    The fact is You are Not responsible for his neighbors plumbing, so don't let him make you responsible.
    BTW, how do you know the neighbor hasn't had this problem all along, saw you doing the install, and figured he could get a free fix?

  9. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    How about a very similar analogy? Joe Homeowner lives a block away from KXL’s radio towers. He bought an intercom system – made in China – and after hooking it up immediately began to hear music coming out of the intercom’s speakers.

    Calling up KXL he demands that they do something to fix this problem that they obviously are causing. Legally, it surely isn’t KXL’s problem, but they probably would give the homeowner a filter to install on his intercom just to try to help the situation.

    Dirt Daddy has a very interesting suggestion about taking the pressure reading at the neighbors home. I’d want to see first hand what is going on.

    Come to think of it Jim... I think your install is affecting the water table here in Bend!
  10. Rebel7695

    Rebel7695 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    I wouldn't offer any ideas or offer any kind of fix. by doing this it might be taken as an admission of fault. Its kind of like getting rearended and jumping out and saying "i'm sorry", this can be taken as if you were at fault. ActiveLandscaping has the best response. You might want to give your lawyer a call and see what he says you should and shouldn't say. Get what i am saying??

    My 2 cents..

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