How do sprinkler systems work?
Most underground sprinkler systems are connected, as is your house, to either the public water supply or to a well. The sprinkler system’s main water line is further segmented into a number of separate irrigation zones comprised of several rotor sprinklers, pop-up sprinklers or drip lines. Each zone waters a particular section of the yard. A number of factors dictate the number and type of zones required. Factors include the size, slope and composition of the landscape, as well as the water pressure and flow rate.
Electric valves regulate the flow of pressurized water into each zone from the main line. The pressure of the water is sufficient to force the sprinkler heads to pop-up and rotate, depending on their function. Each valve is connected by low voltage wires to the system controller (or clock) that is typically mounted on the side of the house. The controller is programmed to open and close each valve at a specific time, for a specific amount of time, on specific days. Rain sensors measure the amount of natural rainfall and signal the controller to reduce or cancel the sprinkler cycle if Mother Nature has been doing her job.
How much does a new irrigation system cost? What are the maintenance costs?
A new irrigation system typically costs several thousand dollars to install depending on a variety of factors, including the size of the yard, complexity of the landscape, water supply characteristics, etc. Moreover, there are permit costs for a water meter, if the system is connected to the municipal water supply and inspection/certifications fees for the required backflow preventer. Once the system is up and running, there is the cost of water. In some areas, sprinkler systems can be connected to a less expensive reclaimed (non-potable) water line. Regular maintenance costs include the backflow certification, winterization and spring start-up. A professionally designed irrigation system should perform flawlessly for decades with regular maintenance.
Is the contractor licensed and insured? Do they have a good reputation?
The State of North Carolina requires all irrigation systems to be designed by a contractor licensed by the North Carolina Irrigation Contractor’s Licensing Board. Moreover, don’t hesitate to ask your irrigation contractor to provide you with a Certificate of Insurance that names you as an Additional Insured. Check sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp* to see how your contractor measures up. Ask for and call your contractor’s references.
Does the contractor provide a warrant?
Most irrigation components supplied by leading OEMs are covered for several years by the manufacturer’s warranty, but irrigation contractors are not required to warranty their workmanship. Ask for your contractor’s warranty in writing. Greenway Irrigation stands behind its work with a written and signed 2-year warranty and honors all manufacturers’ equipment warranties.