Understanding the Mysteries of Irrigation Valves
Ever found yourself staring at a patch of dry grass, wondering why your sprinkler system isn’t doing its job?
Or perhaps you’ve been puzzled by the array of valve options available for your sprinkler system?
In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of irrigation valve repair, especially in the Toledo, OH, and Northwest Ohio area.
By the end, you’ll not only understand the difference between manual and automatic valves but also know which one is right for you when it comes time for your next irrigation repair.
Let’s embark on this educational journey and ensure your lawn remains the envy of the neighborhood.
Difference Between Manual and Automatic Valves
A manual valve for a sprinkler system is a type of valve that requires human intervention to operate, meaning it needs to be physically opened or closed by turning a handle, knob, or wheel.
Unlike automatic valves, which can be activated electronically or through a timer, manual valves rely on manual effort to regulate the flow of water in a sprinkler system.
Manual valves might be easier on the wallet, but the majority of modern irrigation systems in Toledo lean towards automatic valves.
Because automatic valves, powered by electricity, can be seamlessly operated by an irrigation controller, making life a tad simpler.
What Are Valves Used For?
A sprinkler valve plays a pivotal role in creating distinct watering zones within an irrigation system.
Valves ensure that different areas of your garden or lawn receive the appropriate amount of water, depending on their unique needs.
Why Are Valves Important?
Imagine having a single sprinkler system without the ability to split into different zones.
Valves are important because they allow you to create different watering zones.
Not only would this be inefficient, but it could also lead to over or under-watering of certain areas.
Moreover, considering the water source capacity and flow rate is crucial to ensure optimal watering.
How Valves Work
In its idle state, a sprinkler valve remains closed.
However, when the valve manifold receives an electrical signal, the solenoids activate, causing the valves to open or close.
This intricate dance between electricity and mechanics ensures your lawn gets watered at the right time.
Who Needs a Valve?
If your sprinkler system boasts a manifold and controller, you definitely need a sprinkler valve.
Additionally, devices like backflow preventers, filters, and pressure regulators are essential components that work in tandem with valves to ensure a smooth irrigation process in your sprinkler system.
You can learn more about the parts of an irrigation system here.
Control valves are the heart of your sprinkler system, responsible for turning it on or off.
While manual valves require human intervention, automatic ones connect to controllers, making the process automated.
Regardless of the type – be it a globe, angle, or anti-siphon valve – it’s imperative to pair them with a backflow preventer.
Emergencies are unpredictable, and when it comes to irrigation systems, having the right valves in place can make all the difference.
Emergency valves are specifically designed to quickly shut off the water supply, allowing for repairs or adjustments without disrupting the entire system or the household’s main water supply.
Let’s delve deeper into the two most common types of emergency valves:
Gate valves are among the most traditional types of emergency valves.
They operate using a “gate” or “wedge” that moves up and down to control the flow of water.
When the handle of a gate valve is turned, the gate moves to either block or allow water flow.
- Provides a robust seal when closed.
- Can be used in a wide range of applications.
- They can be slower to open or close compared to other valve types.
- Over time, sediment can accumulate, making them harder to operate.
Ball valves are named for the spherical component inside that rotates to either block or allow water flow.
They have a handle that turns 90 degrees, offering a quick open or shut mechanism.
When the handle is in line with the pipe, the valve is open, and when it’s perpendicular, the valve is closed.
- Quick to operate, offering a swift shut-off mechanism.
- Provides a reliable seal.
- Long-lasting with minimal maintenance required.
- Not ideal for throttling water flow over an extended period.
In the context of emergency situations, the speed and reliability of ball valves make them a preferred choice for many homeowners in Toledo, OH, and the Northwest Ohio area.
However, the choice between gate and ball valves often comes down to personal preference, specific application, and budget considerations.
Regardless of the type, having an emergency valve installed near the water supply connection is crucial for any irrigation system.
It ensures that in times of unexpected issues, you have the means to quickly address the problem without causing extensive water wastage or damage.
How to Choose a Valve
Choosing the right valve boils down to understanding the different types and their unique features.
It’s also essential to gather system requirements for each zone to ensure compatibility.
While manual valves operate without electricity, automatic ones rely on either Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC).
It’s crucial to ensure that your controllers and valves are compatible to avoid any hiccups in the irrigation process and to maintain the proper operation of your sprinkler system.
Types of Valves
Valves are the backbone of any irrigation system, ensuring that water is directed to the right places at the right times.
Let’s delve deeper into the different types of valves available and their specific functions:
Angle valves, as the name suggests, have an inlet and an outlet that form a 90-degree angle.
This design helps in reducing the pressure drop across the valve.
They are particularly useful in situations where the water line comes up from below and needs to be directed sideways.
Angle valves are similar to globe valves in many respects but are preferred in scenarios where a minimized pressure drop is essential.
These valves come with a built-in backflow preventer.
The primary purpose of an anti-siphon valve is to prevent contaminated water from siphoning back into the potable water supply.
They are typically installed above ground and at least 6 inches above the highest sprinkler head in the zone.
This elevation ensures that water doesn’t flow backward, keeping your water supply safe from potential contaminants.
Globe valves are the most common type used in commercial irrigation systems.
Their design allows for precise flow regulation, making them ideal for scenarios where flow control is crucial.
They are called “globe” valves because of the spherical shape of their body.
While they offer excellent control, they might cause a significant pressure drop, so it’s essential to factor that in when designing an irrigation system.
Beyond the standard valves, there are specialty valves tailored to specific needs.
For instance, some valves come with features that make them suitable for dirty water applications.
These might have self-flushing screens or other mechanisms to handle debris and prevent clogging.
Another example is the slow-closing valve, designed to shut off water flow gradually, preventing water hammer – a sudden surge in pressure that can damage pipes and fittings.
Each valve type has its unique advantages and is suited for specific scenarios.
When designing or repairing an irrigation system, understanding these differences can help you in making an informed choice, ensuring the efficiency and longevity of the system.
Additional Valve Features
Modern valves come packed with features.
Some have built-in filters and pressure regulators, while others boast of the “filter sentry” for dirty water applications.
Features like flow control, jar-top valves for easy disassembly, manual bleed, push-to-fit connections, reverse flow valves, and the slow close feature help ensure your irrigation system operates at its peak.
Choosing a Material
When it comes to material, the age-old debate between brass and plastic continues.
However, if you’re leaning towards plastic, ensure it has UV protection to increase its lifespan.
How to Pick the Right Size of Valve?
Selecting the right valve size is crucial to prevent pressure loss.
Relying on the manufacturer’s flow chart can guide you in making an informed decision.
Valve Capacities and Limitations
Every valve has its operating range.
Staying within these limits is essential to prevent any potential damage or inefficiencies.
How To Repair a Broken Valve
When it comes to sprinkler valve repair, there are several potential causes and methods for fixing your valve problems.
The first step is deciding whether you want to DIY or hire a professional for your irrigation repair.
Let’s take a closer look at some common operational issues with valves in a sprinkler system:
Valve Not Turning On
If your valve isn’t turning on, the culprits could be:
- Electrical issues
- Water supply problems
- A failed solenoid
To diagnose the problem:
- Check other sprinkler valves for potential issues.
- Manually activate the valve to determine the root cause.
- Inspect the wiring connections and the solenoid for any visible damage or disconnections.
- Ensure your sprinkler system is using waterproof wire connectors.
How to Replace a Valve Solenoid
Replacing a solenoid is straightforward. Simply follow these steps:
- Shut off the water supply to the irrigation system.
- Disconnect the solenoid wires from the controller or power source.
- Carefully remove the old solenoid from the valve.
- Install the new solenoid in place of the old one.
- Reconnect the wires to the controller or power source.
- Turn the water supply back on.
- Test the valve to ensure the new solenoid is functioning correctly.
Valve Not Turning Off
A valve that doesn’t turn off might be clogged by debris or have a damaged valve diaphragm.
The diaphragm plays a pivotal role in stopping water flow, and if damaged, it can lead to inefficiencies.
To fix this issue, simply replace the diaphragm on the defective valve by following the “How to Rebuild a Sprinkler Valve” process outlined below.
How to Rebuild a Sprinkler Valve
Rebuilding a valve is a slightly more complex process than a straight replacement of the entire valve:
- Shut off the water supply to the irrigation system.
- Clear the area around the sprinkler valve to ensure easy access.
- Carefully remove the solenoid from the valve box.
- Detach the bonnet from the valve body.
- Remove the spring and diaphragm from the valve.
- Inspect the diaphragm for any signs of wear, damage, or debris.
- Depending on the condition of the diaphragm, either reinstall it or replace it with a new one.
- Reassemble the valve by placing the spring, diaphragm, and bonnet back in their respective positions.
- Reattach the solenoid to the valve.
- Turn the water supply back on.
- Test the valve to ensure it’s functioning correctly after the rebuild.
If you prefer a professional to handle your irrigation system repair, you can learn about the cost of an irrigation valve repair here.
Trust Simmons Landscape & Irrigation for All Your Irrigation Repair Needs
After this deep dive into the world of irrigation valves, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions.
Remember, regular maintenance and timely repairs are the keys to a lush, green lawn.
If you’re in Toledo, OH, or the Northwest Ohio area, Simmons Landscape & Irrigation is here to handle all your sprinkler valve repair and general irrigation system repair needs.
Fill out our contact form today, or give us a call.
We’re here to ensure your lawn remains the talk of the town!