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Outdoor Sprinkler Installation
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Freshly cut grass, a perfect green lawn, and landscaping, all make a house appear clean and can increases the homes curb appeal. Although weeding, fertilizing, and trimming are all a part of keeping a nice lawn, watering is the one aspect that takes the most time. Setting a sprinkler often results in one area of the lawn being watered more than another area. Additionally, sprinklers often run longer than needed, increasing the water bill. Installing a sprinkler system will give you a beautiful, manicured lawn while saving you lots of time to enjoy other things. The planning stage is by far the most important. If you are somewhat handy and can follow directions, you can install your own sprinkler system. However, if you are uncomfortable with taking on this type of project, professionals can be located at nurseries, gardening or home improvement stores, and landscaping businesses.

With sprinkler systems, different pop-up sprinkler heads provide different types of spray. The right one for you will depend on the type of vegetation being watered. Some have a fine mist while others are more direct. Whichever type you choose, use that same type for the entire system. Sprinkler heads also provide a 45 to 360-degree adjustable feature. Before you start, check with your local water department or city to attain information on codes. To start, you need to know your water flow rate, gallons per minute (gpm), for your home. By placing a one-gallon container under an outside faucet, turn the water on full and count how many seconds it takes for the container to fill. Whatever number you end with is divided by 60. For example, if your one-gallon container were filled within 8 seconds, your gpm would be 7.5 (60 divided by 8).

Before purchasing the system, determine the layout on graph paper, with the goal being to provide water distribution where needed with little to no overlap. Once you have decided on the type of sprinkler head, check with your local hardware or home improvement store to find out the diameter of the area this head will cover and its gpm. All sprinkler systems will only use from 60% to 75% of your home's gpm. To determine the system's rate, add the needed gpm for each individual sprinkler head. If the total number is more than the 75% maximum you will need to use fewer heads, or change your choice to smaller heads, which are designed with a lower gpm requirement.

Once you have your layout neatly drawn and the gpm numbers determined, take your plan to the hardware of home improvement store where you will be assisted in determining the length of pipe needed, number of connectors, T-fittings, elbows, and so on. Choose PVC or CPVC piping. There is a slight difference in diameter, both are lightweight, easy to work with, and will not decay or erode. The diameter of the pipe is determined by using your sprinkler system's required gpm. For example, a 3/4-inch pipe would be used for 14 gpm, a 1-inch for 25 gpm, and a 1 1/4-inch for 40 gpm. If your total gpm is different from these, the salesperson can help you determine which size to use. You will need to have all your tools organized, which will be provided on the sprinkler system instructions or the salesperson can advise what all you will need.

The most important thing you need to do is contact your local gas and electric company before digging to ensure you are digging in a safe zone. Hitting a gas pipe or underground electrical wiring can kill! Carefully, follow the instructions and with this type of project, do not rush through the process, which includes:
  • Cutting pipes
  • Checking valves and drains
  • Connecting pipes
  • Attaching anti-siphoning valve
  • Installing gate valve
  • Shoveling trenches
  • Linking gate valve to pipe-run
  • Installing pipe-run
  • Attaching sprinkler heads
  • Testing sprinkler system
As you can see, this is not a one-day job. By carefully following the instructions, with some hard work and maybe a friend or two's help, you will soon have a wonderful underground sprinkler system and a beautiful green lawn!
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