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No experience -- Can I add a head for my cust?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by eruuska, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. eruuska

    eruuska LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 454

    Background: I mainly do lawn maintenance and light landscaping.

    I've got a good customer who has an existing irrigation system (Rainbird), but he needs to have 1 more head installed. I don't have any experience in irrigation, but it's something I'd like to know about. I'm reasonably experienced with PVC and understand the mechanics of it, but I've never had any hands-on experience with irrigation equipment.

    Is this something a reasonably handy guy can do?

    Should I just either sub it out or direct him to an irrigation contracter?

    Inquiring minds want to know.... :waving:
  2. scagwildcat

    scagwildcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from nw. ct.
    Messages: 507

    if you dont know much about his system, and hes a good paying client, i wouldnt , think about it this way, if you put a head across his yard and then the pressure of the line is not enough what do you do, tell him i know that i dug up your yard and i messed your system up , but i didnt know what i was doing!!! dont lose a good client.... get info on it first.... just my 2 cents... dont take it as an insult pls... just trying to help ........
  3. eruuska

    eruuska LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 454

    Hey Scag,

    No offense taken! I want to do what's best for the client, because he throws me a lot of work, he pays well, and is easy to please.

    Just to make sure I understand what you're saying though.....

    Are you saying that if I educate myself properly that I could handle this? I downloaded the Rainbird Irrigation Design Manual off their site, and plan to spend lots of time reading it. He's not in a hurry, and he knows I don't know anything (yet) about irrigation, but will be educating myself about it.

    What do you think?
  4. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    From a strictly non-professional view, if you can do basic home plumbing, you can do the mechanical side of the job. However, the much bigger issue here is deciding if it is feasible to add a head. If you really need to add a head, that means the system wasn't designed right in the first place. If so, what else is screwed up?

    Start by evaluating the water pressure while the zone is operating and of the system in general. The Rainbird pamphlet you have downloaded will tell you how to measure the entire water system. A Rainbird pressure gauge can be had at Lowe's for less than 8 bucks. Hook it up to the faucet closest to the water meter and check the pressure. This is the static pressure of the system. Open a valve somewhere else in the system and check it again. This is the working pressure of the system (the pressure with a valve open). If the static and working pressure are close, that is a good thing. Now close the second valve, go back to the valve closest to the meter, remove the pressure gauge and time how long it takes to fill a 5 gallon bucket. This will tell you how many GPM the system can deliver . I would also test the pressure with the zone you want to add to turned on and the pressure gauge closest to the meter. If there is a huge difference between the working pressure and the pressure when the zone is operating, hand your good customer off to an irrigation expert.

    If the difference is just a few PSI and you can determine what type heads are in the system, you can look up their specs and see if that zone can handle adding another head. If it can, take a close look at that Rainbird guide and compare the design of your customer's layout to how it should have been done. Maybe he needs more than he thinks.
  5. SprinklerGuy

    SprinklerGuy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    Maybe this is just semantics...but when people tell other folks to check their gpm by seeing how long it takes a 5 gallon bucket to fill from a hose bibb that really won't give you much more than 5-7 gallons per minute....what good is that?

    Most hosebibbs are 1/2 copper and the actual orifice is even smaller after it goes through the bibb right?

    Has anyone actually gotten 15-18 gallons per minute from a hose bibb? If we all judged our gpm by the hosebibb this way, wouldn't all systems be OverBuilt?

  6. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    Remember back in grade school when you asked and the teacher said "yes you CAN, but no you MAY not". She was preparing you for this question. I'm sure you CAN. Like some point out here, this isn't rocke science. The question is SHOULD you? and do you know enough to answer that question. Adding one extra head is rarely detrimental, BUT in the cases where it would be, your taking a very big risk. Yes, operating pressure vs static pressure are great indicators, but around here, my favorite saying is "superman is on vacation, x-ray vision isn't an option, I THINK it will go like this but keep your check book open.........." AS far as GPM, open a zone and time the meter. Add a jumper wire and open two zones and time the meter. Use that pressure guage and open first one and then two zones at once. BUT, even if you have the AVAILABLE gpm and adequate psi, did they install 1" main? what size lateral are you taping? On the systems we did when I was in TX, adding a head because someone "changed their mind" might be a challenge. We used 1/2" pvc for the last head and then sized the pipe back to the valves. If that area they didn't want to water then but want to water now is fed by 1/2" pipe, then adding a head means upsizing the lateral too.
    This is an extreme case and somewhat of an extreme answer. I'm not trying to tell you which way to decide, but before you decide, try to find out for sure what your getting into. Calling an experienced tech and watching him fix it might be your best answer.
  7. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    See why I said it was a "non-professional point of view"? ;)

    I live in the country and supply my system from the well. To a large extent, I was parroting the advice given by Rainbird, Hunter, and Toro in their DIY guides. For me, the closest valve to my well is a freeze proof hydrant literally at the well cap. I got 20 gpm from it. There is some terrible plumbing in our house, and I am reasonably confident that you are right about what I would get if I measured my hose bibb. On the other hand, what's your idea of a better starting point? If you have a 1/2" line with a crusty old sillcock and you get 10 or 15 gpm, can't you assume that is a minimum to work with? Can't it only get better? I was kind of trying to encourage the guy to bring in someone else or learn enough about supplying an irrigation system to keep from making a big mistake by just tapping into the system with no idea whether or not he had sufficient water pressure and supply to add another head.

    It sounds to me like he might have much bigger problems. Why does the guy want to add 1 head? If he is adding new area, chances are 1 head isn't going to do it. If he has an area that isn't getting proper coverage, I would suspect the rest of the system is poorly designed.

    Probably one of those %&*@ homeowner installs. :waving:
  8. SprinklerGuy

    SprinklerGuy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    Ok Ok..sorry I brought it up......you made my point for me actually.

    If you have a crusty old sillcock and you get 10-12 gpm from it....in my mind you cannot get that much water out of a GOOD sillcock let alone a CRUSTY one! See what I mean? You can only push so many gpm through a hosebibb.....awwwww forget it!
  9. eruuska

    eruuska LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 454

    Let me give you a little info on the customer.

    I don't think it was a customer-install. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy to take on a large project like this by himself. We're talking about a 22k sq ft lawn.

    The area that needs the head was for some reason left out of the original picture. Why? I don't know. It's not that it's getting inadequate coverage. There's NO coverage. The grass is dead (Indiana=drought this summer!), the only vegetation there is the occasional drought-resistant weed.

    His system is supplied by a dedicated well that is fed by a 60 psi pump. I have no idea what his gpm is, I'll be checking that, as well as the pressure, at a later date.

    BTW, I really appreciate all the input here. It'll help me make my final decision.
  10. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    By no means am I an expert, but you may be able to get the coverage by renozzeling or utilizing different spray heads rather than digging up a yard. We just had a 9 zone system installed in an area wher we had not previously had irrigation...On a roof top. Feed line was 3 stories down in a Mechanical room. It was fed by 1.5" copper Necked down to 1.25 for a flow meter, then back up to 1.5 until it got to the actual turf. Needless to say after 40+ foot rise plus about 200' of run of copper pipe we had dry areas.....The contractor claimed thet theyhad good presure. But thet had good pressure at the back flow, not at the irrigated site. They ended up comming back and installed a booster pump No problems now...

    Gettingto know and getting tight with a good irrigation contractor is a good way to help him and help yourself. if an irrigation guy does an install, meybe they'll need a landscpape to fix up and reinstall turf after teh fact....Good contact are hard to come by...

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