How To Fix A Sprinkler Head In 7 Steps

Broken sprinkler head

If you’re like most people, you probably take your lawn’s sprinkler system for granted. But what if one day, one of your sprinkler heads doesn’t work?

Not many people know how to maintain a sprinkler system to keep it working, and accidents also happen. If it’s a major issue, you may need to enlist a professional for an irrigation repair.

But if it’s a minor issue like a faulty sprinkler head, rather than hoping a professional can come to the rescue, you can try fixing it yourself. Whether you have a broken sprinkler head or one that’s just not performing up to par, fixing it is a relatively easy do-it-yourself job.

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to fix a sprinkler head in 7 easy steps.

How To Fix A Sprinkler Head In 7 Steps

1. Find The Correct Replacement Sprinkler Head

Sprinkler head in ground

You’ve found a leaking or broken head in your lawn sprinkler system, and you’re ready to replace it. But with all the different types of sprinkler heads on the market, how do you know which one is the right replacement for your system?

Here’s a quick guide to help you find the correct replacement sprinkler head.

Brand And Model: Take a look at the label on your existing sprinkler head. This should tell you the brand and model number of the head. If it doesn’t, you can usually find this information stamped on the side of the head.

Although you don’t have to get the same brand and model type when you are replacing a sprinkler head, you do have to match the specifications. Matching the brand and model number is an easy way to do this to ensure a successful how to fix a sprinkler head project.

Type Of Sprinkler Head: You’ll also want to identify the type of sprinkler head you have. The most common types are pop-up and impact heads. Pop-up sprinkler heads can be either stationary, rotor-driven, or gear-driven.

Other Specifications: Once you’ve determined the type of head you need, you’ll need to further narrow down your search by considering specifications such as flow rate, spraying pattern, and spraying distance.

Flow rate is typically given in GPM (gallons-per-minute), although some manufacturers use IPH (inches-per-hour).

The most important factor for this step in how to fix a sprinkler head is to make sure that the specifications of the replacement sprinkler head match the old one. With a little research, you should be able to find a replacement sprinkler head that will fit your system!

2. Dig A Hole Around The Broken Sprinkler Head

Digging a hole around a broken sprinkler

Now that you’ve found the appropriate sprinkler head replacement, it’s time to start the process of removing the old broken one.

Turn Off The Water: This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s critically important to make sure there is no water pressure going to the system before you start taking things apart. The last thing you want is for water to start spraying everywhere when you’re in the middle of repairing something!

Dig The Hole: The next step in this part of how to fix a sprinkler head is to dig a hole around the broken sprinkler head. Be sure to start at least 6 inches away from the head. Make the hole wide enough and deep enough to accommodate the new head.

Save The Sod: We recommend using a garden trowel to cut a 6-inch diameter circle of sod from around the sprinkler head. Set the piece of sod aside so you can replant it after you have completed your repair.

Locate The Water Line: Carefully dig down around the old sprinkler head until you have located the water line. We recommend storing any soil you dig up in this step of how to fix a sprinkler head in a bucket or on a tarp. This way, you can refill the hole after your repair.

3. Unscrew And Remove The Old Sprinkler Head

How to fix a sprinkler head

The sprinkler head is attached to the water line with a short piece of pipe called a riser. Removing the old sprinkler head from the riser can be tricky, as they are usually screwed on very tightly.

*You may want to use this reference for the parts of an irrigation system

Unscrew The Sprinkler Head: First, try unscrewing it by hand. If this doesn’t work, use a pair of pliers. Grip the head firmly and turn it counterclockwise.

Once it’s loose, pull it off and dispose of it.

Inspect The Riser: With the sprinkler head removed, you can also use this step in how to fix a sprinkler head to inspect the condition of the riser. To inspect the riser, unscrew it from the water line and look for cracks or breaks in the plastic.

Replace Or Reinstall The Riser: If you see any damage, replace the riser before proceeding. You can purchase a new riser at most hardware stores. Simply follow the instructions on the package to install it properly.

If the riser is undamaged, simply screw it back into place. However, you may need to reapply some new thread seal tape (typically called plumber’s tape or Teflon tape) to ensure a tight fit.

4. Flush The Water Line

One of the most important steps in a how to fix a sprinkler head project is to flush the water line. This will remove any dirt or debris that may have gotten into the line when the old sprinkler head was removed.

To do this, simply turn on the water at the main valve and allow it to run for a minute or two. If you prefer, you can also attach a PVC pipe or piece of hose to direct the water to a different part of your yard. This can keep the area around your excavation from getting too soggy.

After running the water for a couple of minutes, turn off the valve and check the line for any leaks. Once you have confirmed that the line is leak-free, you can proceed to the next part of how to fix a sprinkler head.

5. Install A New Sprinkler Head

Installing a new sprinkler

Now that you’ve flushed the water line, it’s time to install your new sprinkler head.

Hand-Tighten First: Take your new sprinkler head and hand-tighten it onto the riser pipe until it is snug.

Use Pliers Next: Now, give it an extra quarter-turn with a set of pliers to ensure a tight seal. 

6. Test The New Sprinkler Head

Now that you’ve attached your new sprinkler head, it’s time to give it a test run before you backfill your hole.

Turn On The Water Supply: Test the sprinkler head by turning on the water supply and checking for leaks. This step for how to fix a sprinkler head makes sure everything is working properly.

Is It Still Leaking? If the sprinkler head is leaking, you may need to reapply the seal tape to the connection between the head and the riser. You may also need to tighten the sprinkler head further.

Is It Still Clogged? If the sprinkler head is clogged, you may need to flush your water line again.

If the sprinkler head is working properly, then congratulations! You have successfully completed the replacement part of how to fix a sprinkler head.

7. Backfill The Hole Around The Sprinkler Head

Backfill With Soil: Once you have confirmed that the new sprinkler head is working correctly, use a garden trowel to backfill the hole around the sprinkler with the soil you initially dug out. Gently tamp the soil down with your hands or the trowel.

Replace The Sod: Take the circle of sod that you initially cut out and replant it around the new sprinkler head. Be sure to generously water the sod to help the grass reestablish itself.

Simmons Landscape & Irrigation Can Help With Your Irrigation Maintenance Needs

Thank you for reading our blog post on how to fix a sprinkler head. We hope that you found it helpful and informative. Without a functioning sprinkler head, your lawn will begin to suffer, so it’s important to know how to fix them when they break.

If you need further assistance or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team would be more than happy to help you out. So what are you waiting for? Give us a call or fill out our contact form today!