By Larry Walton, Photos by Tim Walton
It’s not important to know that my brother Chad backed a trailer over our broken sprinkler. The important thing is that we get it fixed. Of course my brother, Chad, the one who broke this sprinkler, was nowhere to be found when it came time to repair this thing, but I’m not dwelling on it because
I just need to get it done—even without my brother’s help.
The fact that the geyser coming from the yard was depositing dirt and rocks on the sidewalk indicated that the break was down deep rather than higher on the pop-up sprinkler. Sure enough, when I pulled on the sprinkler head, it came right out of the ground. I was disappointed to see that this was not simply a broken riser. In that case an extraction tool could have gripped the remaining riser pipe to back it out. Finishing the fix would only require threading in a new one.
Time to get out the shovel and get down to the heart of the matter. A word of caution here: Be careful with the shovel because you can cause a problem worse than the one you are trying to fix.
The goal when getting through the grass is to fold back the sod so you can replace it in one piece when the sprinkler repair is done. You have to get deep enough to avoid damaging the roots of the grass but not so deep that you get into the pipe that feeds the sprinkler.
Unless you installed the sprinklers to begin with, you probably will not know the type of pipes that are under the lawn. Even if you have a good guess, you’ll still need to dig down to the pipes so you can see what parts you’ll need.
In our case, the pop-up sprinkler was fed with flexible pipe. This was not the super flexible pipe like Rainbird Swing Pipe or Toro Funny Pipe. However, the previous homeowner used the same type of fitting that these pipes use. The barbed fitting simply pushes into the end of the pipe, going one direction but not the other.
Here’s how I got this repair done without my brother’s help.