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Yard Sprinkler System Parts Explained

A yard sprinkler system usually consists of underground pipes, underground rotary sprinklers, a controller and underground electric water valves. The timer is programmed to activate the water valves at certain times, which in turn activate the sprinklers. The sprinklers pop up from underground and water the lawn for a predetermined amount of time. Before you plan an irrigation system for your lawn, you might want to brush up on the basic parts and their purposes.
  1. Controller

    • The irrigation controller is the "brain" of the whole irrigation system. The timer sends signals to the water valves, which tell the sprinklers when to water the lawn and for how long. When the water duration ends, the timer tells the water valves to close, which causes the sprinklers to stop watering and sink back underground. The controller can tell all of the water valves to open at the same time or at different times, which is made possible by the controller wire -- usually buried along with the irrigation line that runs to the water valve manifold.


    • The water valve manifold consists of one or more water valves and is buried underground inside of a valve manifold box. The manifold consists of the water valves, which are connected together, the wiring, which links the water valves to the controller, and the pipes and fittings, which feed the water valves and lead to the sprinklers. When a water valve is activated by the timer, a compartment inside the valve opens, allowing the water to pass through the "Flow" inlet and out to the valve's connected sprinklers. Each valve is in charge of a zone within the yard. Different zones might include the front yard, backyard, garden or flowerbed.


    • Underground sprinklers come in many shapes and sizes. Some underground sprinklers rotate within a fixed range, some feature adjustable rotation ranges and some are stationary. Some underground sprinklers are hybrids of a rotary sprinkler and an impact sprinkler, and some sprinklers aren't underground at all; they stand above the ground permanently. The sprinklers in a zone are connected to a single water valve, which causes them to rise and water the lawn when opened. Most sprinklers are adjustable either by hand or by a supplied adjustment tool or screwdriver. Rotary sprinklers feature adjustment slots that control water flow, nozzle access, rotation and the throw.


    • Underground irrigation pipes can be made of different material, such as copper, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or galvanized steel. Check with your local codes before deciding on piping. Pipes link the main line to the irrigation line, the irrigation line to the water valves and the water valves to the sprinklers. Connection techniques are very important, as an improper connection could yield an ineffective system due to leakage or pressure loss.