Even though I try to answer most of your questions within the text of my articles, sometime a short quick answer is all you need. I will categorize them to try to make some order of it all. Add your questions to the comment section, and I can usually respond in a day or so. Take note, the answer to the question and the solution may be beyond your skill set, if so, call a professional.
Automatic Lawn Sprinklers:
- Some of my sprinkler head still pass water well after the zone has run, and never seems to stop, what do I do? AKA weeping heads. Typically, the sprinkler valve has dirt or grunge in it, and even though it is closed it is still leaking, much like a leaky faucet. You will need to turn the water off, disassemble the valve and clean it. Don’t be surprised if it takes multiple times to get it to stop.
- Water sprays in the air from the head around the shaft, how come? This is a dirty or worn head. I like to keep replacement heads as spares and change them out like for like. Either use the same nozzle or the same pattern head. Disassemble the removed head, clean it, replace any bad parts and reuse it.
- My sprinkler valves chatter, what do I do? If it occurs immediately as the zone comes on or as it is shutting down, this is fairly normal. It’s about water and air, and the pressurized water is rushing to fill the empty pipe.
- How do I find a lost sprinkler valve? The easiest way is with a cable locater. They are expensive and not easy to find rental units. If hiring an irrigator is too expensive for you try my method described in Searching for Sprinkler Valves.
- Why does the last sprinkler in the zone leak? Probably because it is also the lowest head in that zone. Sprinkler zones always drain a little bit after they are shut off. If the head location creates a lot of mud or is in a bad place you can purchase and install an in-line drain that can be placed in the ground upstream of the head reducing the amount of water coming out of that head. It it seems to never stop, see #1.
- What do I do with a sprinkler valve that is cracked and why did it crack? A cracked sprinkler valve is an indication that it froze during the winter and will have to be replaced. There is not a real simple way to do it other than 1) turn the water off, 2) dig up the dirt around the valve, 3) cut the PVC on either side of the valve and replace the valve by splicing in new PVC.
- Why does my sprinkler sprays over the sidewalk. Assuming the head is not broken or incorrectly adjusted, it may be due to poor design. As a cost cutting measure some irrigators spray over a sidewalk to avoid digging underneath it to add heads. You may be able to reduce the nozzle to a 1/4 or 1/2 pattern but it may leave the area across the sidewalk dry. If you are happy with those results, you have solved it, on the other hand, the solution may be to add more sprinklers which can get expensive. Read my sprinkler articles in full to see all your options.
- Can I turn one sprinkler head off? If it is a pop-up type the answer is yes. There is a small screw in the middle of the nozzle that can be turned to reduce/increase or turn off the water.
- I have a sprinkler head that pops up but doesn’t spray water, whats wrong? See #8, try adjusting it first. If that doesn’t work the nozzle and filter is dirty. Remove the nozzle, clean the filter and nozzle with pressurized air and or a tooth pick to get the little pebbles out. If that doesn’t work, replace the nozzle (like for like).
- How many heads will be on each zone?This is not a short answer as it’s an engineered number based on water pressure, water volume, pipe size and type heads used to figure GPM. Check out this Rainbird link for details.
- Can I change the sprinkler nozzle to increase the distance of spray? Yes, but there are additional issues to consider. Each sprinkler zone is designed with a water budget. Each head/nozzle use part of that budget. If you change a nozzle to one that consumes more water (larger spray pattern), it will consume more water. Simply put, you can change as many nozzles as you wish, but you may deteriorate the performance and spray patterns of the heads on that zone giving you more problems than you started with. Even though this is a calculated value, to keep it simple; change one at a time and run the system to make sure you have not made a negative effect on the entire zone. If you notice a loss in water pressure and the existing heads no longer spray to cover, you have exceeded the water budget for that zone. If you want to know how to mathematically calculate the sprinkler zone water budget, send me a note and I will provide you the long answer.
- How do I fix nails popping up in the roof? Besides being an indicator your roof may be approaching end of life. Hammer the nail back into the roof and apply some roof rated caulk or clear 25 year silicone caulk will work too. Just a dab! Otherwise it will be ugly-looking from the ground up.
- I have a wet crawl space, how do I get it to stay dry. Sorry, there is not a good short answer for this one. But here is my capsule answer. Usually caused by poor drainage. 1) You need a 3-5 degree slope away from the house, 2) good clean gutters to push the water away from the house, 3) Possible french drains and or transfer (sump) pumps. Look for a future article on this item.
- I have a standard electrical outlet that is warm to touch, what do I do? Turn the power off, carefully pull the outlet out of the wall. The connections may have become loose over time but if there is enough wire, cut back the copper wires (about a 1/4 inch) then re terminate the wires in the outlet. If that didn’t solve it, replace the outlet. Or just do them both at the same time. Outlets are cheap. For more details read Warm Outlets and Electrical Switches and Outlets.
- I have an electrical switch that seems warm to the touch, is it bad? Could be. If it is a standard switch (not a dimmer) and it is warm, follow the method described in #1 and replace it if necessary.
- How do I install a new ground rod?1) Make sure you have identified all your buried utilities, 2) find a location within about 3 feet or less from the AC Utility entrance, 3) Dig a hole about the size of a bucket, 4) Drive your new ground rod into the center of the new hole to the point that the top of the new ground rod is 6″ below ground, 5) Run the new ground wire between the Circuit Breaker panel and the ground rod, 6) Connect the new wire with the appropriate grounding termination material, 6) Put the dirt back in the hole. If you have no electrical experience, have an electrician make the terminations.
- What type of TVSS do I use for a refrigerator?Any class A should work fine. As with many appliances, clearance can be a challenge. For me, I replaced the standard wall outlet with a Leviton 5280 series TVSS outlet as a direct replacement.
- Is it okay to use a standard 2 prong outlet for my computer or digital TV. NO. NO. NO. Thats the simple answer. The short answer is you need a grounded 3 wire circuit to properly protect your equipment (plus a class B TVSS). For me, I would run a brand new circuit to these devices from your AC panel. There are other ways, but this is the best. This goes for that big flat panel TV too! A $300 bill from an electrician is cheap insurance.
- One outlet has a dead plug-in it, the other one is okay?You probably have an external switch associated to that plug, try activating some switches in the room to see if that changes the condition, otherwise change the plug.
- I tested my outlet as reversed, checked the wiring on the outlet and the breaker and it looks good, whats wrong? Many electrical circuits are wired in series or can be “daisy chained” all together. This saves wire and the amount of terminations at the circuit breaker box. Some where in your circuit, the wires are reversed. You will need to isolate the circuit by determining all outlets powered by the same breaker, and inspect all of them. Leave the power off while you are making your inspection.
- Do I need to ground my microwave any different from any other appliance? No, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a single class A surge protector at the outlet between the outlet and the microwave.
- Does fiber optic equipment need grounding? Yes and no. Since there is no way to carry current through a glass fiber, the answer is no. However, the electronic equipment at the ends do. This has to do with protection from any spike or voltage imbalance that may be transmitted from the AC source as well as serving as a “ground reference” for the fiber optic equipment (NID). Its lack of proper grounding has been associated with video reception pixiling.
- Should I ground my Gas Meter? There have been recent changes in the code that may allow it. Personally being old school, I would never ground my gas meter. If you have followed the ground schematic as listed in my grounding articles I see no real advantage to it.
- Can I bury my HVAC Condensate Drain? I wouldn’t. Some Building codes require the drain to be visible at all time to ensure that the homeowner can inspect the fact that it is properly draining.
- What do I do about excessive static electricity in my dryer vent? 1)Make sure the entire vent from the dryer to the exit is metal, 2) Make sure there is continuity from end to end of the vent, 3) Ensure the dryer is correctly grounded, 3) Check the grounding of the AC Breaker panel, 4)Make sure there are no plastic fittings or section in the system. By having a properly grounded dryer and the metal vent is connected to the dryer, the static electricity will more easily find its way to ground. This will also help reduce the potential of a fire.
- Can I use a general purpose 12 volt battery for a solar landscape lighting system? The short answer is yes. A 12 V battery will provide DC current to power the lights. However, battery chemistry and cell designs are typically engineered for the application. For instance, a battery used to start your car is different from what is found in a golf cart even though they may be the same voltage (12vDC). One is used to provide a burst of power for a short interval, where the golf cart battery is designed to provide output over a long duration. Between the two, the golf cart battery or a battery that is used in a similar fashion is the better choice. The car battery will work, and if it is oversized, you may not recognize a difference for a while. The continued (long duration) cycling of the car battery in this application will cause it die quicker than the golf cart battery.