A Friendly Reminder To Check Your Automatic Sprinkler System

broken sprinklers cost you a ton of moneyDo you have an automatic sprinkler system? Ours is a lifesaver!

It’s so nice to simply set up a watering program and not have to worry about manually watering your lawn and moving sprinklers all summer long.

Unfortunately, even automatic sprinkler systems have some downsides.

Here are a few things you should do at least once a year to make sure you aren’t wasting money on your automatic sprinkler system.

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Inspect Sprinkler Heads

Sprinkler heads get damaged in many different ways.

Whether you accidentally ran over a sprinkler head near your driveway or a squirrel ate your sprinkler head in the winter looking for water, broken sprinkler heads can waste a ton of water.

If your sprinkler turns into a geyser, you could be losing anywhere from 2.5 to 13 gallons of water per minute depending on your water pressure.

To find broken sprinklers, turn on all of your sprinkler zones one by one and look for leaking sprinkler heads at least once a year. Even a small leak, rather than a geyser, can cost you a pretty penny.

While replacing the sprinkler heads can be annoying, you’ll save a ton of money on your water bill and lower the amount of water you waste each watering season.

You’ll also want to check to make sure your sprinklers have proper clearance around them so they can distribute water efficiently. Make sure that each sprinkler head is clear of grass and other debris so water can reach as far as each sprinkler head is designed to water.

Check Your Sprinkler Program

Automatic sprinkler programs make my life much easier, but sometimes they can cause problems. If you’ve lost power over the winter, your sprinkler system could return to the factory set programs which may end up either flooding your yard or not providing your yard enough water.

Check the sprinkler program to make sure you’re watering at the correct time of day and that each sprinkler zone is running for the correct amount of time. Make sure to adjust the zone timing if you notice you have a particularly wet or dry part of your yard.

Check or Replace Your Back Up Battery

Back up batteries will allow your system to retain the settings you input should your power go out. Replacing this battery once a year or even once every few years will help you prevent losing your settings and spending the next hour trying to figure out how to reprogram your system. That’s money well spent in my book.

Consider Getting A Rain Gauge

The downside of most automatic sprinklers is the fact that they will continue on their set programming whether it rained all last week or it hasn’t rained in a month.

However, some automatic┬ásprinkler systems will allow you to add a rain gauge that will turn your system off if you’ve received a certain amount of rain in the last couple of days. Adding one to your sprinkler system can save a ton of water that would otherwise be wasted, saving you a bit of money at the same time.

Consider Getting A Sprinkler Water Meter or A Well

If you want to save even more money while keeping your lawn nice and green, you could consider getting a separate sprinkler water meter or a well for your sprinkler system. In some cities, a separate water meter will allow you to use water for irrigation without racking up the expensive sewer fees on every gallon of water you use to water your lawn.

Be careful though, installation could be expensive and you may have to pay a monthly fee to have your water authority read two meters each month instead of just one. Make sure that you’ll save money in the long run before pulling the trigger on this item.

The other option is getting a well for your sprinkler system. If you don’t use city water, you don’t have to pay for the water or sewer. Unfortunately, not everyone can get a well for their sprinkler system and some people who can don’t have the best well water.

Our area has a lot of iron in the water, so if we did this we’d have orange sidewalks and, if any water hit our house, orange walls on our home as well. Drilling a well is pretty expensive, so you’ll need to make sure it will pay off in the long term.

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These sprinkler maintenance tips and considerations will help you make sure you’re keeping your lawn lush and green without wasting a ton of cash and water. It should only take a few minutes a year to make sure everything is running optimally.

What tips do you have to keep your sprinkler system running in optimal shape to save both water and money? I’d love to hear any additional tips you may have in the comments below!

Photo by: bradleygee Text added by: Lance Cothern

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. We haven’t turned ours on yet, it has been pretty rainy so there’s been no need!

  2. There was a big factory fire that just happened yesterday in our country. When the investigator inspected the incident, they discovered that the sprinkler was defective. Sadly, if the owner checks it regularly, it may have saved some lives.

  3. We have a meter on our sprinkler that measures rainfall and if it exceeds a certain amount the sprinkler doesn’t run. However, I’ve seen some places that the sprinkler operates no matter how much rain we’ve had which is pretty wasteful and expensive. Our sprinkler company comes out each spring to activate and check the system and again in the fall to do the same when we shut it down for the winter.

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