Saving water in North Carolina
In the Triangle, it is especially important to conserve water anywhere you can. McClard & Son Irrigation is installing the newest heads from Rain Bird (the Pressure Regulating Stem “PRS” heads) to help ease your water bill and to help you conserve water.
If your system is over 3-years old you may be wasting more water than you realize. There are several things to consider when looking at your irrigation heads. Cary is on permanent water restriction, with more Townships adopting the same policy each year, which means you can only water on certain days. This will only help reduce the amount of water you use throughout the watering season, but it will not help if you have problems with you irrigation system. We will cover a few problem areas to help you reduce your water bill.
First: Consider your heads–
How long have they been installed? If your heads are older than 5-years old, I would consider looking at them while they are operating. If there is water seeping out around the base of the head, then the seal inside is worn out. This needs to be replaced. This is due to dirt or sand being let in after the zone turns off. A common problem we encounter is reduced pressure and reduced distance in which the water is thrown. The PRS heads flush out the sand and dirt after the zone turns off. This feature extends the life of the rotor heads and saves water also.
Second: Consider your heads–
Does your lawn have a slope? Any slope, large or small, can impact your irrigation system. The water in the irrigation system follows gravity, the slightest variation can affect your heads. Check you heads to see if they “leak” when the zone stops running. When your irrigation system stops running, so should the water from your heads. It is not normal for any water to leave the head when the zone stops. This is the most common problem we see, due to contractors using the cheapest heads. The fact is that all irrigation heads come in two forms: regular and with a check valve. While the check valve is a little more expensive, the cost in saving water the first year makes this negligible. In most cases we see the water leave the system, which leaves the pipe empty. Then, when the system turns on it has to re-fill the pipe to “charge” the irrigation heads in order for them pop-up. Depending on the size of pipe, and length of pipe from the valve to the head there can be as much as 16 gallons of water wasted every cycle. Now times that by the amount of times it turns on in a week, we’re talking a lot of wasted water !! With the check valve in the head there is no need to re-charge the pipe. The water is there at the head, and when the system turns on the heads pop-up almost instantly.
Third: Consider your heads–
Many people rely on their contractor to maintain their lawn and irrigation system. This is great if you have someone who knows what they are doing! We have come across a lot of irrigation systems where the contractor just installed the heads and put whatever nozzle he thought should go into the rotor head or spray head. With this kind of treatment you end up with wet and dry spots in the lawn. This is not how to treat a lawn. To top it off, the contractor tries to compensate by increasing or decreasing the time on the controller. This just adds to the problem. The best way to remedy this is to change out the nozzles. While you can swap out the nozzles to match the precipitation rate of the other heads, you should also be aware of how much water is coming through each nozzle. Depending on the size of the nozzle you are using anywhere from 1.7 gpm (gallons per minute) to 4.5 gpm per head! Changing the heads to the PRS Heads that number changes to 1.35 gpm to 3.09 gpm. So, how does that relate to your system?? That is a decrease of 3 gpm to 5 gpm per head!!
Now lets put that into numbers you can see… On one zone you have 5 rotor heads. normally you run the system 20 minutes. The contractor installed the heads and they put #3 nozzles in them (why #3 nozzles? This is what’s highlighted in the instruction book, and what we have commonly seen throughout doing maintenance checks). The #3 nozzle runs at 3.47 gpm per head. Now to do our math… 5 x 3.47= 17.35 gpm for that zone. Now take 17.35 gpm x 20 minutes = 347 gallons per run. Should you only run the system 3 days, how much water are you using in one zone for the week? 347 gallons per run x 3 = 1041 gallons for 1 zone( that’s only for 3 days and 1 zone)! How many zones do you have in you irrigation system? Now, if we only change out the heads and leave the same nozzles in each head #3. The PRS rotor head runs 3.09 gpm. Now to do the same math…5 x 3.09 gpm=15.45 gpm. Now 15.45 gpm x 20 minute run time= 309 gallons per run. Now to calculate the week 3 days x 309 gallons per run=927 gallons per week. That is a savings of 114 gallons per week per zone! If we match the precipitation rate with the nozzles the savings is even higher!
McClard & Son Irrigation can help you save water and money in Apex, Cary, Morrisville, Garner, Fuquay Varina and everywhere around the Triangle! Call to have a free evaluation and estimate to change out your existing irrigation heads to be more efficient!