Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What a nasty job

I spent president's day fixing sprinkler heads, I had to relocate two heads and after at least 3 trips to Home Depot and Lowe's I finally had all the pieces of the puzzle (or so I thought). Of course you can never have all the parts with just one (or two or three) trips - no matter how well you memorize and visualize your protect.

The messiest part is to dig up the old sprinkler heads. Just when you think you've reached the bottom, you have to dig some more. Our black sand makes for some nasty black nails. What makes is even nastier is that over the last 12 years, the grass has built up a foot thick thatch that makes it impossible to find the sprinkler heads unless you turn them on. This in turn makes for a real messy muddy digging experience.

The first sprinkler I tackled was in the front garden. I wanted to move it about 10 feet so that its at the corner and then use a 60 degree angle to water just the lawn, right now, its in the middle of the small lawn and at least half of it is watering the driveway and just runs off.

So I start digging a trench to relocate the 1/2 " pipe. On the second shovel input, I felt a little resistance and though it must just be some thick roots, so I completed the trench and dug the final hole for the sprinkler head. When I came inside, my wife complained that there's no cable TV. I realized to my great horror that the resistance I felt must have been the cable line.

So I searched the trench for the severed line - thank goodness I found the severed cable line almost at the beginning of the trench. So I called the cable company and their first opening is Wednesday between 11 and 2pm! I decided to give it a try myself. I don't have any solder on hand, so I dug through my toolbox and found some old copper wire I had "saved". I stripped the cable line at both ends of the cut, then uncovered the thick copper wire on the inside on both ends, I bend both ends about 100 degrees, then used my copper wire to tie them together, then used duct tape to insulate it. I used another piece of copper wire to connect the outer wires and sealed it all with duct tape. Lo and behold, my temporary fix worked !

OK, so now half the day was over and I hadn't even gotten to the other two broken sprinkler heads. The first was a snap, I screwed in the new head, positioned the left side and adjusted until it was just short of 360 degrees. I adjusted the nozzle to spray a little closer and left the sprinkler on for a while, when I looked again, it was spraying a solid stream of water and eroding nearby flower beds - when I adjusted the distance, I screwed it just a little too much and the nozzle was dislodged and nowhere to be found. Luckily the new sprinkler came with many different sized nozzles. So I took the 2Nd largest and installed it and made sure the screw held it in place. 2 down, 1 to go.

The last sprinkler head was located directly under the children's playground. From all the playing and swinging they managed to break the gear and it no longer revolves. I had to move this head by about 8 feet. After digging the trench and digging the new hole with my pole digger (thank goodness for that) and getting all the parts ready, I discovered that even after 3 trips, I missed some vital parts. I thought to myself, OK this is it, I've had enough, just then I figured I could re-use some of the existing connectors. Thank goodness I was able to move it away so its out of the kids path.

Black toenails, fingernails nicked fingers and black heels later I finally accomplished another nasty gardening task.

I still have to move at least one sprinkler head which is now situated smack dab in the middle of a new flower bed.

My next project will be to replace the solenoid on the sprinkler system since its not stopping between stations, resulting in one station being over watered. If the solenoid doesn't fix the problem, I'll have to cut off the whole valve and replace it all together - that will be another couple of trips to HD for sure.

Another looming project is to install drip irrigation for all my new flower beds that totally lack irrigation and require manual watering.

Here's a quick tip, to easily connect the funny pipe to barbed connectors, I use the barbecue lighter and warm up the pipe at the end, be careful not to melt it, just a couple of seconds over the flame to make it soft (it should not start smoking), then slide it over the barb easily. Also make sure you wear heavy duty gloves, I didn't all the time and today I have at least 3 nasty nicks on both hands.

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