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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We want to provide our customers with as much knowledge about their irrigation systems as possible.  The categories will help you find the answers quickly.  If you cannot find the answers about your irrigation system listed below you can also email us and we will do our best to get that information for you.
 
GENERAL QUESTIONS
PARTS, TECHNICAL TERMS, PROBLEM SOLVING & MAINTENANCE

SPRING START UP

WINTERIZATION

WATER CONSERVATION

CONTROLLERS - MANUALS
Rain Bird
Hunter

Links to more info can be on the Rain Bird and Hunter websites. 

 

 

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS

What are the pros of automatic irrigation systems?  Are they wasteful?
Irrigation systems are convenient, especially for those who travel. When installed, programmed and maintained properly, irrigation systems can even save you money. Dead lawn grass, plants, and shrubs that need to be replaced, can get expensive. But the overall savings from automatic irrigation systems can go far and beyond that.

Will my water bill increase?
If you have never watered your lawn before, yes. If you have been watering your yard with a garden hose and a sprinkler, you might notice a decrease in your water bill.

What equipment is required for an irrigation system?

There are five basic components of an irrigation system: The controller, backflow preventer, valves, underground piping and sprinkler heads.

What is a Backflow Preventer and why do we need one?
A backflow preventer is a device that allows water to flow in only one direction. Its purpose in an irrigation system is to permit water to exit a home or building for watering the lawn while keeping it from going back into the building or home. A backflow device must be installed in all systems that tie into a public water supply. These devices must be tested annually by a certified Technician.

What is a watering program?
Watering programs require three basic instructions to operate automatically:
1. When to water (program start time)
2. What days to water (watering days)
3. How long to water (station run time)

Why do some controllers have multiple programs?
Various yards have plants with different water requirements. For that reason, the lawn stations can be assigned to a different program than the shrubs. With a single program timer, all stations would have to water on the same days.

Do you charge to give estimates on new installs?
No, we will meet you at the property, and provide you a professional bid at no charge.

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WINTERIZATION

What is winterization and why is it important?
Winterization is required in order to prevent the pipes, and other components of your irrigation system from freezing. Winterization should be performed shortly before the first winter freeze. Your irrigation system was designed to withstand one or two days of below freezing temperature, so there is a bit of latitude as to when the winterization process must be performed.  Irrigation winterization is accomplished by opening the manual drain valves and forcing compressed air into the irrigation system from the backflow device and evacuating the water in the main and lateral lines.

Winterization procedure on Irrigation System
Recommended time:    When night time temperature begins to dip below 32 F degrees.
Step 1:  Shut main water supply off.
Step 2:  Connect 125 PSI air supply to backflow unit or quick coupler assembly.
Step 3:  Start air supply.
Step 4:  Manual start controller and cycle through each station until all water has been blown out. (recommended twice)
Step 5:  Shut down air supply.
Step 6:  Disconnect air supply.
Step 7:  Turn controller to off position. 

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SPRING START UP

What is spring start up and why is it important?
Spring start up is the procedure that your irrigation system technician performs in the spring of the year after the last freeze in order to re-activate your irrigation system after the winter.  Generally, water pressure is re-applied to the mainline by slowly filling the irrigation system from the main shut off valve.  At the time of spring start-up, there are other routine checks that must/should be performed:          

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  All the heads should be checked and adjusted.
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  The electronic controller should be checked and adjusted.
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  The backflow device should be checked for problems.
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  The backflow tested annually.

Spring Start-up Procedures
Recommended time:   When natural rainfall decreases below 1” per week and night time temperature is above 32 degrees.
Step 1:  Make sure all test cocks on backflow are closed.
Step 2:  Turn main water supply on.
Step 3:  Turn controller to on position.
Step 4:  Manual start controller.
Step 5:  Step through each station and physically check and adjust all heads to insure proper operation.
Step 6:  Set controller to appropriate programming.

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PARTS, TECHNICAL TERMS, PROBLEM SOLVING & MAINTENANCE

There are two types of lawn sprinkler heads. What is the difference between “spray” heads “rotor” heads?
Spray heads are designed to pop-up out of the ground when the sprinkler system is activated, while others rest on the pipes that remain aboveground at all times. Sprays discharge a large volume of water in a reasonably short period of time, giving them a high application rate.

Rotor heads have a lower application rate, so they’re simpler to use on slopes. Rotor heads also apply water more uniformly than do spray heads, making them more suitable for watering large areas.

How can I adjust my Rotors?
Rotors need to be adjusted using a special plastic key or a small slotted screwdriver.


Rotors not rotating properly

Occasionally a rotor may not rotate completely through its designed cycle. Disassemble the rotor head by unscrewing the head from the housing. Wash out the head by removing debris from the rotor mechanism and reassemble. If this does not solve the problem call Keithley.

Water seeps from one sprinkler. Is there something wrong with the sprinkler?
No, water will drain through the lowest head until the pipe empties. IF the seepage doesn’t stop the problem is with the valve that controls that irrigation zone. The problem could be as simple as a small piece of debris inside the valve.  Make sure to shut the water supply off, before disassembling the valve.


I think I have a leak in my irrigation system. How can I be sure?

The easiest way to determine if there is an active leak in the irrigation system is to look at the water meter. There is a micro dial that is often shaped like a star or triangle. If no water in the home is running (no leaking toilets, etc.) the micro dial should be stationary. However, if this is moving, we can assume there is an active irrigation leak. 


Water leak or pooling
1) If there is water “pooling on the ground” you may have a water leak, but you may
also be watering that zone with too much watering time.

2) If there is water “spraying” profusely or a major leak, do not panic. There is a gate valve located in the main irrigation line between the backflow preventer and the water meter. Shut this valve off and call Keithley. Or you may shut down the backflow preventer valve (either one) to stop the water flow.

Zone failure or drying areas
Occasionally there will be a zone failure caused by one of several anomalies in the system. If an area seems to be receiving less water or inadequate water, there may be a problem with that zone. First check the time on all zones to insure that each zone has adequate watering time. Adequate watering time should be determined by your landscape contractor. If you have determined that the problem is not inadequate watering time, call Keithley for assistance. It is not necessary to stop watering the other areas of the yard while waiting for an irrigation technician.

The Electronic Controller is not responding properly  
If the Electronic Controller is responding unpredictably or not at all, check the fuse inside of the controller (not all controllers have a fuse). Insure that the circuit breaker for the electrical outlet is in the proper position. Reset all of the controller time settings to zero, then back to the original times specified. If this does not fix the problem, call Keithley for assistance.

Physical damage to irrigation system components 
If damage occurs to the system from digging or perhaps lawn mower action, mark the damage with a wooden stake or irrigation flag and call Keithley.

Lighting damage
Lighting can strike the ground and damage your irrigation system. Although controllers
have a fuse for protection; occasionally lighting can damage a controller. If a thunderstorm has passed over recently and there are problems with the irrigation system, lighting damage could be the problem, call Keithley for service. The entire electrical system must be checked out.

Zones staying “on”
Occasionally a zone may stay on after the controller has issued a stop command. This is usually from a valve sticking in the “on” position. The easy solution is to shut the irrigation system down manually with the main cutoff valve between the backflow and the water meter or turn down one of the valves on the backflow preventer. You may find that by cycling the controller through all of the stations manually that this will cut the zone off. If this does not solve the problem, shut the irrigation system down and call Keithley.           

Nozzle blockage
If a spray nozzle becomes noticeably blocked, turn the irrigation system off at the electronic controller, lift up the spray “pop-up” and unscrew the nozzle from the head. This will usually fix the problem. If, after re-starting the zone, the problem persists, call Keithley to have a technician to trouble shoot the problem.

Backflow backwash
If the backflow washes the water out of the lower housing, there has been a breech of system integrity. Shut down the irrigation system manually using the gate valve between the backflow and the water meter and call Keithley.    
 

Pop-up not reacting
If the spray head remains in the up position after the zone has cycled to the off position, un-screw the bonnet, wash out the mechanism and reassemble the head. Generally, this this will fix the problem.

Geyser or head blow-out
If a head blows out of the ground, you can attempt to solve the problem yourself by turning the irrigation system off at the controller and digging slightly around the hole and re-connect the head to the flex cable. If the head is broken or the fittings are broken you must call Keithley to fix the problem.

Controller operational problems
Your controller manual provides a problem solving section in the controller operating manual.  Please refer to that section or trouble shooting.
      

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Water Conservation Tips

Water is a precious resource. We should use it wisely when watering your lawn to insure that it will always be available to us and to save money on water bills.  It may seem like an oxymoron for an irrigation company to discuss water conservation while seemingly promoting the sale of an irrigation system. We at Keithley Irrigation Systems, Inc. however, believe that irrigation can be wonderful if used prudently, or that it can be vile waste of a precious resource when used irresponsibly.  Most people over-water some portion of their yard by not learning the best way to water each section of    their yard. For best results consult your landscape contractor or local garden center. Below are some tips for water conservation.

Tip # 1 – Monitor closely the time each station on the controller waters the yard. Only water as long as necessary. Each station will put out anywhere from 15 to 30 gallons of water per minute (or more in some cases). Each minute can cost 3 to 4 cents at 20 gallons per minute.

Tip # 2 – Established shrubs need less water than turf. (As much as 75% less than turf).

Tip # 3 – Generally, your irrigation system does not need to run everyday, every other day or every third day may be all that is necessary. The exception to this may be in the heat of the summer or during a drought.

Tip # 4 – Less water promotes deeper root development. This can carry turf and shrubs through extreme trauma.

Tip # 5 – Too much water can promote mold, fungus, or any one of a number of undesirable effects.

Tip # 6 – Mulched beds will hold water below the surface better than un-mulched beds. Check this before assuming that the bed is dry because the bed “looks” dry.

Tip # 7 – Pooling caused by over watering can create unsightly mud basins.

Tip # 8 – Turf will grow faster the more you water.  

How can rain sensors work with irrigation timers for water conservation?
Plants get thirstier in the summer than during spring and fall, so program your controller accordingly, rather than constantly keeping the irrigation timer on the same setting. This will support water conservation, as will watering at the right time of day and overriding irrigation timers with rain sensors.

For optimal water conservation, it will be necessary to override the timer of your irrigation system, if your area receives heavy rains the night before your system is programmed to come on. If you’d rather not worry about overriding your system manually, install a rain sensor. Rain sensors can be tied into your irrigation system, shutting them off for you after a period of rain.

What are drip irrigation systems and how do the support water conservation?
Drip irrigation systems are rather basic; they are constituted by a series of tubes that have holes opened along them at intervals. Drip irrigation systems are usually installed in pots. Drip irrigation allows you to target plant roots even more precisely than do sprinklers, resulting in enhanced plant health and improved water conservation.

 

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CONTROLLERS - MANUALS

Instruction manuals and troubleshooting guides have been formatted in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) for easy downloading and printing.  You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader software installed on your computer to view and print the files.  If you don't already have it installed, you can download Acrobat for free from Adobe's website.  Please not that some manuals may take several minutes to download (depending on your connection speed and file size).


 

RAIN BIRD CONTROLLERS
 

ESP-LX Modular Series ESP-LX+ and ESP-LXi+ Series
(ESP-6LX+, ESP-8LX+, ESP-12LX+,
ESP-16LX+, ESP-20LX+, ESP-24LX+,
ESP-8LXi+, ESP-12LXi+, ESP-16LXi+)
ESP Modular Series
(ESP-4M, ESP-4Mi)
ESP-TM Series
(ESP-4TM, ESP-6TM, ESP-8TM)
Ec Controllers
(E-4c, E-6c, E-9c)
ESP-Si Series (discontinued)
(ESP-4Si, ESP-6Si, ESP-8Si)
ESP Series (discontinued)
(ESP-4, ESP-6, ESP-8)
E-Class (discontinued)
(E-3i, E-3, E-6i, E-6, E-9i, E-9, E-12i, E-12)
RC-Bi Series (discontinued)
(RC-4Bi, RC-7Bi, RC-1260Bi)

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HUNTER CONTROLLERS

SRC Plus Manual

EC Plus Manual

XC Manual

Pro-C Manual

ICC Plastic Cabinet Manual

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