Thriving lawns and gardens rely on sufficient water pressure from the sprinkler system to keep grass and plants happy and growing.
If your sprinkler system lacks the necessary water pressure, your grass and gardens suffer.
When this happens, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
Fortunately, there are many ways to assess the cause of low water pressure and effective ways to increase water pressure for your sprinkler system.
The first step to increase your sprinkler system’s water pressure is to determine the cause of low water pressure, which involves checking hoses, sprinkler heads, mainline pressure, and elevation changes. Rectifying low pressure involves replacing faulty components and getting pressure-boosting equipment.
Are you frustrated by the low pressure in your sprinkler system?
We have tried and true plans to determine the cause of your system’s inefficiency and how to resolve them yourself.
Table of Contents
Resolving Low Water Pressure In Sprinkler Systems
Sprinkler system pressure relies heavily on the water source, but there are many ways to increase water pressure for your sprinklers regardless of the source.
Asses The Common Causes Of Low Pressure
Tackling the issue of low pressure seems overwhelming, but it is quite simple once you understand the science behind how it all works.
Elevation and hose size are two common culprits responsible for low water pressure.
Both aspects reduce the amount of pressure traveling through the system.
Other common factors include damaged hoses, faulty sprinkler heads, and inefficient hose splitters.
You want to eliminate all potential factors causing pressure to drop as water travels from the mainline to sprinkler heads.
In some cases, a water pressure booster pump is necessary to achieve higher water pressure, but professionals and homeowners often use it as a last resort.
Before investing in new equipment, you’ll want to go through these simple, less expensive options.
Get A Water Pressure Gauge
Maximizing the efficiency of your sprinkler system requires starting at the source and going through a thorough inspection of each part.
Attaching a water pressure gauge at the mainline of the sprinkler system is a fantastic place to start.
If the gauge measures sufficient pressure at the source, it’s time to move forward in identifying the cause of pressure loss.
If the pressure at the water source is insufficient, you’ll want to determine why your water pressure is so low.
There are many causes for this, depending on where the water comes from.
City water is distributed from a water source through a mainline.
Sometimes, too many splitters come from the municipal mainline, resulting in low water pressure in individual homes.
Contact your town or city to see if any improvements are possible.
If not, it may be time to invest in a boost pump, which we’ll dive into later.
Check The Pipes And Pumps
Other reasons for low water pressure at the source include faulty pipes or water pumps.
Both require professional assessment and repair.
If your initial water pressure at the source is sufficient, it’s time to assess other factors, including elevation.
As a general rule, the water source must be higher than the rest of the system.
Increased elevations within the sprinkler system cause a dramatic decrease in pressure.
For every foot of elevation, the system loses a substantial 0.43 PSI.
You want to set your sprinkler system up for success and remove all obstacles, decreasing efficiency.
Your pump and water source at a lower elevation forces the sprinkler system to work much harder to create sufficient pressure.
The diameters of hoses and the mainline are often responsible for low water pressure.
Checking the hose bib, initial water pressure, and all components from source to sprinkler head allows you to identify and rectify whatever pressure losses occurring.
Alter The Size Of The Hose
Smaller diameters in sprinkler hoses cause loss of pressure.
Wider hoses allow more water to flow.
Many hose splitters decrease hose diameter size and cause loss of pressure.
You must make sure all connectors and splitters throughout the hoses maintain a sufficient diameter to maximize water pressure.
Working your way through the entire network of hoses, sprinkler heads, and connectors is the best tactic for increasing water pressure in your sprinkler system.
Determine Water Pressure For Your Sprinkler System
The initial water pressure of the mainline of the sprinkler system is the baseline for what your water source is capable of producing.
Each hose, connector, and sprinkler head reduces the pressure, but there are many ways to optimize the efficiency and prevent pressure loss.
If the initial water pressure is insufficient, you’ll need to invest in a water pressure booster or contact professionals capable of determining the cause within your plumbing system.
How To Use A Water Pressure Gauge
Investing in a water pressure gauge like this one allows you to test the PSI at the source.
Once you are sure the pressure at the source is not the problem, it is time to move down the system and ensure the next parts are maintaining an adequate PSI.
Alternatively, an inline water pressure regulator valve like this one allows you to continuously gauge the PSI while still having the hose attached to the rest of the sprinkler system.
This option is especially great for monitoring the PSI while the system is in use.
Step One: Remove the Mainline Hose From The Sprinkler System.
To use the water pressure gauge and get an accurate reading, you must take off the hose to place the gauge at the water source.
Step Two: Attach The Water Pressure Gauge
Screw the water gauge onto the hose bib.
Step Three: Turn On The Water To Test The PSI
If you are using the standard water pressure gauge, you need to turn the water on and get a reading from the gauge.
If you invested in the inline water pressure regulator valve, you’d need to attach the hose onto the other end of the water valve.
One of the benefits of using the regulator valve is setting a PSI on the regulator.
This feature is especially beneficial if you encounter high water pressure in your sprinkler system.
Improve Low Water Pressure At The Source
Once you have the PSI reading from the water source, it’s time to continue assessing the system.
The main factors you’ll look for include elevation and the diameter of the mainline.
If your sprinkler heads are higher than the water source, you are losing significant pressure through the system.
The PSI is working against gravity and forced to work harder to get the water from the source to the sprinkler heads.
Conversely, if your sprinkler heads are at a lower elevation than the water source, the system is assisted by gravity, and water pressure will increase at a rate of 0.43 PSI per foot of elevation.
If it’s possible to adjust the elevation changes to work in your favor, the water pressure in your sprinkler system will immediately increase.
This option may only benefit those still planning out their system but may not be feasible for those with established systems.
Collect Rainwater for Sprinkler System
Sometimes there is nothing to change where the water source is located.
If the elevation works against your sprinkler system, rain barrels are a creative way to establish an alternative water source.
Placing rain barrels at a higher elevation than your sprinkler system allows gravity to assist water flow.
Collecting and establishing rainwater collection is quite an undertaking but may warrant better results in the long run.
We’d recommend the other options we describe before taking on a rainwater project.
It is important to note local regulations on rain collection vary based on location.
Make sure your local jurisdiction allows for rainwater collection before incorporating it into your water system.
Mainline Pipe Size
Another factor for loss of pressure at the source is the diameter of the mainline pipe.
Most hoses measure in at ⅝” inches diameter.
While this diameter may be sufficient for high-pressure water sources, some systems benefit from a wider mainline hose.
Many homeowners see results of up to 60% increase in the amount of water running through the system by switching from a ⅝” inch to a ¾” inch hose.
More water in the system increases the water pressure reaching the sprinkler heads, and the best way to achieve this is through wider water pipes and hoses.
Investing in wider hoses is more expensive at first but pays off in the long run.
Assess Hoses For Damage And Clogs
Moving forward through the sprinkler system, you’ll need to assess hoses for damages, leaks, and clogs. Leaks in hoses dramatically reduce the pressure in the hose.
If you’ve ever used a hose with a hole in it, you’ve experienced how much simply covering the hole with your thumb affects the water pressure.
Some holes are fixable with patches, but patching is often only a temporary fix and reduces the integrity of the hose.
Check Hose Bib Size
It is worth noting the size of your hose bib.
The hose bib is another name for the spigot at the water source.
Most homes have a ¾” inch bib, but some have a ½” inch bib.
You want to make sure you are getting optimal water flow from the hose bib.
Starting with a ¾” inch bib allows for more pressure at the source.
Some people find switching out their hose bib for a larger size sufficient to achieve their desired increase in water pressure.
Clean and Repair Hoses
Hoses are affected by adverse conditions leading to deterioration, leaks, and clogs.
To determine if this is responsible for your insufficient water pressure, you’ll want to thoroughly inspect each hose and connector and repair where needed.
Sometimes buildup occurs on the threads of the connectors on hoses.
The buildup prohibits a tight seal between hoses and connectors, escaping water and pressure.
Step One: Start With the Spigot.
Take a look at the interior and exterior of the spigot to see if anything is blocking water flow.
The spigot thread sometimes rusts or gets dirt buildup which affects how tightly the hose attaches.
If the fixture is very rusty, replacement is the best option to optimize how well your sprinkler system functions.
Ensure the replacement spigot is at least ¾” inches in diameter to ensure you are getting adequate water flow from the source.
Step Two: Clean the Spigot.
Regardless of buildup, it is advantageous to clean the spigot regularly to prevent rust and deterioration.
Simply use a soap or bleach solution and brush to clean the fixture.
Make sure to run water through the spigot without hoses attached to prevent soap or bleach from contaminating hoses and negatively affecting your garden or lawn.
Step Three: Check Hoses for Leaks and Clogs
If you have multiple hoses leading out to the sprinkler heads, you’ll want to check each hose one by one.
Attach only the first hose and run the water through.
Does the pressure seem drastically decreased?
Do you notice any kinks in the hose?
Is water leaking from any part of the hose?
These are all important questions to ask when inspecting the hoses for damage.
Step Four: Replace Any Damaged Hoses
If you find leaks, clogs, or other damages to a hose, replace it with a new hose.
Ensure the new hoses are of the same diameter, ideally ¾” inches.
Introducing smaller diameter hoses will decrease the amount of water running through the system and reaching your sprinkler heads.
Check Connector Between Hoses
Each time you connect hoses, you lose water pressure.
It is vital to optimize these connections and minimize pressure loss.
One way to eliminate this factor is by incorporating a long, efficient hose and reducing the number of connectors needed in the system.
This may not be possible if you have many lateral hoses running from the mainline.
In this case, you’ll want to check each connector running to the lateral lines to make sure there are no leaks.
Reduce Pressure Loss from Lateral Hoses
Lateral hoses run from the mainline to the sprinkler heads and allow water to reach larger areas of gardens, grass, and lawns.
While they are very convenient for covering large areas, they contribute to pressure loss in sprinkler systems.
One way to reduce the amount of pressure loss is to incorporate larger pipes for the lateral hoses.
Like with the mainline and spigot, the wider diameter for lateral hoses allows more water into the system, increasing pressure.
Larger pipes do require more investment, but they allow the sprinkler system to operate more efficiently and help save money in the long run.
Some Hose Splitters Decrease Water Flow
Sometimes it is necessary to install hose splitters in the sprinkler system to cover the entirety of our lawns and gardens.
Many hose splitters on the market negatively impact water pressure.
Most of the time, this occurs from a decrease in diameter caused by ball valves.
Ball valves in certain hose splitters obstruct the water flow even if both ends measure at ¾” inches diameter.
Hose splitters like this one do not have ball valves and allow more water flow.
Increase Efficiency Of Sprinkler Heads
Once you have worked your way from the spigot and through all the hoses, it is time to inspect the integrity of sprinkler heads and make adjustments if needed.
If you’ve replaced damaged mainlines, spigots, splitters, and lateral hoses but still experience low pressure, the sprinkler heads are the next step in identifying and rectifying the problem.
Adjusting Pressure on Individual Sprinkler Heads
Many sprinkler heads have adjustable pressure options directly on the component.
Sometimes the adjustment of sprinkler heads allows water to flow at a better pressure throughout the whole system.
It is important to note this option increases the number of additional sprinkler heads needed to cover an area.
Many homeowners tend to err on the side of fewer sprinkler heads than needed making this option helpful for your gardens and lawns in the long term.
Clean Sprinkler Head Filters
Sprinkler heads have filters inside to prohibit deterioration from sediment buildup.
It is beneficial to regularly check the filters, especially if you are experiencing significant water pressure issues in specific sprinkler heads.
Step One: Dismantle Sprinkler Head.
To access the filter for cleaning, you’ll need to dismantle the sprinkler head.
This is fairly straightforward, but it may help to have the manual for the component on hand for reference.
Step Two: Remove and Assess Filter
Once the sprinkler head is dismantled, you’ll want to inspect the filter for damage and buildup.
If the filter is damaged, you’ll want to replace it. If there is buildup or clogged sprinkler heads, you’ll want to carefully clean the filter with soap, water, and a brush.
Ensure the filter is thoroughly rinsed off soapy residue before reassembling to prevent contamination.
Step Three: Reassemble Sprinkler Head and Test
Put the filter back in the head and reassemble. Reinstall the sprinkler head into the system and test to see the improvement in water pressure.
Replacing Sprinkler Heads
Inspect each sprinkler head and clean if necessary.
If you are still experiencing clogging or issues with the heads, it is time to replace them.
If you replace the heads, consider investing in high-pressure sprinkler heads to optimize the flow rate.
Sprinkler heads need to be replaced over time, especially if hard water is worn down and deteriorating the parts.
Reducing the Number of Sprinkler Heads in Water System
While you want to ensure you’re getting adequate water for your lawns and gardens, reducing the number of sprinkler heads increases water pressure.
If pressure loss is still an issue after cleaning and replacing all other components, reducing the number of heads allows more pressure to reach the remaining sprinklers.
Sometimes homeowners need to create multiple sprinkler systems from different water sources to adequately care for their lawns and gardens.
By having multiple sprinkler systems with fewer sprinkler heads each, you’ll have adequate water pressure for each system.
Setting A Schedule for Sprinkler System
Many automatic sprinkler systems work on a schedule to water lawns and gardens in the morning and evening.
Often the watering schedule coincides with household water consumption, including showers and cooking.
If you find your water pressure suffering during your shower, make sure you are not using your shower while the sprinkler system is going.
Sometimes all you need to improve water pressure in the sprinkler system is to adjust the timing to make sure no other water sources are used during this time.
If you have multiple water sources for the interior and exterior of your property, this is not an issue.
Make sure your sprinkler system runs on a separate water source than the rest of your house to ensure there is no loss of pressure from showering, cooking, and using water inside the house.
Install Boost Pump To Increase Water Pressure in Sprinkler System
Many homeowners use boost pumps as a final option to increase water pressure when all else has failed.
If you thoroughly inspected and replaced all other aspects of the sprinkler system and still have issues, a boost pump is a fail-safe for increasing water pressure. Boost pumps are especially effective if your water source is below the rest of the sprinkler system.
In these situations, elevation forces the sprinkler system to work harder and drastically reduces the water pressure flowing through the system.
Luckily, boost pumps dramatically increase the pressure and improve the efficiency of sprinkler systems.
I recommend a high-quality water pump like this one to increase water pressure in your sprinkler system.
After spending extensive time researching and reading reviews, I landed on this water pump.
It creates sufficient pressure and works impressively for my needs.
Many people have used this water pump for irrigation and RVs and boats.
Boost pumps work by using electricity to increase water pressure. Installation is simple but does require a nearby electrical outlet.
Another benefit of boost pumps is the added filtration for your water system.
The extra filters prohibit sediments from clogging hoses, connectors, and sprinkler heads, preserving the integrity of your sprinkler system.
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