Do-It-Yourself: Sprinkler System Pumps - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Do-It-Yourself: Sprinkler System Pumps

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A lot of us have sprinkler systems at our house, which make it nice and easy to water the lawn in the summer. However, they're really plagued by one particular thing, and that's winter. They're for water, and when water freezes, it expands and it breaks pipes. Every spring, a whole bunch of us have to repair our sprinkler systems. Now if they're not cleaned out properly, you can have problems with water sitting in one particular spot. And I'll be honest, I apparently missed one spot. I cleaned everything out here. But on my manifold, which is the nerve center for your sprinkler system, I've got a broken collar, which means everything else is OK, but obviously I forgot to open one valve, and I've got some pipes that broke, so we're going to have to replace that.

Now working with PVC is pretty easy. It's just like Lego blocks, you put it together. To build these manifolds where these various valves come out, it's called a manifold T. Now they go together one at a time, and it's got every piece that you need to hook up to your valves and rebuild this system. The great thing is, when you're replacing manifold like this, all the work in planning it has been done for you. The guy that did it the last time worked out all of the spacing and all the design. All you have to do is follow exactly what he did for you.

Now as we come out of the house, there's generally a drain, so you can drain all the water off the system for winter. Then we come into a piece called a back-flow preventer. This is required by code, and what this does is, it stops any of the water that's in your yard or in that system from coming back into the house. We want to do that because there are chemicals in your yard -- weed killer chemicals, fertilizer chemicals, insecticides. All those things we do not want in our house water system. Certainly, not in the water system for the city. Now you want to hope, that it was not water inside that that froze that and broke that, because that's about a $100 piece of equipment. My back-flow preventer works fine here, so we're going to be able to reuse that as we rebuild this year.

The next problem we run into is, sometimes there's water that's left in the various valves. Quite often, all you have to do is go to a hardware store and buy a diaphragm replacement. If it's leaking, you can replace the diaphragm -- that's the seal in the valve. Or, sometimes just the electronic switch. If it has fried over the winter, you can just buy that piece and put it on there also. Sometimes, if the housing is cracked, you have to buy the whole valve. And sometimes it's difficult. This is a particular brand named Nelson. Kind of hard to find those nails and valves, because sometimes you have to switch these with a Toro or another brand, and it doesn't line up perfectly anymore. You have to do that.

Coming out of here, you just use regular PVC pipe. Buy it in length, very inexpensive. Use a hacksaw, cut it to the pieces you need, and then you're going to design everything and put it together. And out of the ends for that little drain, you buy a little threaded adapter that goes in the end of the pipe, so you can thread those drainage valves into it. Again, this is all very easy. You use a little bit of cleaner to clean the edges of the PVC pipe, a little bit of PVC glue to put it back together, and all you had to do is mimic exactly what you see there, put it back together and you'll be replacing your manifold. A little advice, a little help from a good hardware store, and you could do all this stuff yourself with your sprinkler system.

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