Replace an In-Ground Sprinkler Head in 7 Steps

An in-ground sprinkler in a lawn irrigation can become damaged for any number of reasons, but most damage is due to one of two reasons. The first is when a sprinkler head is run over by a lawn mower. The second is cracked pipes due to freezing water the sprinkler system pipes. Replacing an in-ground sprinkler head is an easy repair. Just following these directions.

Step 1: Determine Which Sprinkler Heads are Broken

A puddle of water or a vertical spray of water into the air will tell you which sprinkler head is broken. Note the location and turn the water supply to the sprinkler system off immediately to avoid wasting any more water. Check that you have a replacement available. If not, purchase one where you bought the original set or one the same size at a nearby hardware store or garden supply center.

Step 2: Dig Out the Sprinkler Head

Use a small garden shovel to dig out a 6-inch circle around the in-ground sprinkler head. Set it aside and pile it neatly to fill in the hole again later.

Step 3: Detach the Sprinkler Head from the Support Column

The sprinkler head will be small and black with a directional nozzle on the top. Detach the nozzle first, then remove the sprinkler head by turning it counter-clockwise from the support column. Wear a snug-fitting rubber glove to enable you to grip the sprinkler head.

Step 4: Flush out the Sprinkler Line

Turn the water back on to the sprinkler system briefly, to clear the pipes of any dirt that may have gotten in while you removed the sprinkler head. Turn off the water immediately when you are finished.

Step 5: Attach the New Sprinkler Head to its Support

Twist the new in-ground sprinkler head on to the support column by turning it clockwise until it is snug but not tight. This will prevent cracking the stem of the new head. Reattach the directional nozzle so the sprinkler head can spray again. Push the sprinkler support down a little bit into the ground so the new sprinkler head is just ½ inch above the soil surface.

Step 6: Test the New Sprinkler Head

Restore the water supply to the sprinkler system, and test the sprinkler head to see that it is working properly. If it is a rotating sprinkler head, ensure the nozzle is watering the entire arc that it is assigned to cover. Adjust the nozzle to change the arc, according to the system manual. When you are satisfied with its operation, refill the shallow hole around the sprinkler head with the dirt and turf you dug out, compressing it firmly. The grass will regrow in just a few weeks.

Step 7: Ongoing Maintenance

In the spring, test the entire system and check for cracked sprinkler heads, damaged or cracked pipes or any other problems. You can then fix several at once if they have occurred over the winter.

With simple preventive maintenance and easy lawn sprinkler repairs such as this, your lawn sprinkler system will keep your yard looking green and healthy for many years.