Do I need a pressure regulator for my sprinkler system?

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Sprinkler systems have different water flow rates depending on the design. Water pressure is the major determinant of the effectiveness of a sprinkler system.

There needs to be an amount of pressure the water comes with for the sprinkler to spray well. It is then a question of do I need a pressure regulator for my sprinkler system?

A pressure regulator is needed for a sprinkler system. The regulator is required to keep the water pressure at the best amount for the proper functioning of the sprinkler heads. There is a minimum and maximum water pressure that each sprinkler system requires.

To have an effective irrigation system, the water pressure must be controlled. There is an amount of water pressure needed for each sprinkler system.

Read on to know what pressure is needed and the pressure regulator that works for your sprinkler system. Here are answers to questions around pressure regulators.

What does an irrigation pressure regulator do?

From the name, a pressure regulator is a device that controls water pressure. Pressure is defined as the amount of force per a defined area. Water pressure is the water force in a specific area. It is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).

Most household water systems have a water pressure above 35 PSI.

The pressure regulator ensures that irrespective of the inlet water pressure, the irrigating sprinklers get the best pressure. With too much pressure, the sprinklers are in danger of damage and lesser pressure will reduce efficiency.

The pressure regulator is responsible for controlling the inlet and outlet water in the irrigation system. It maintains the pressure. This means it raises low inlet pressure to the required amount. It also reduces too high inlet to the needed water pressure for the sprinklers.

How does a pressure regulator work?

The water pressure regulator has its work cut out. How does it achieve the aim of pressure regulation? A basic water pressure regulator design aids it in keeping control of the inlet and outlet water pressure.

Simply, the pressure regulator uses its opening area to automatically adjust the water pressure that comes out of it. Based on the water coming in, the regulator increases or reduces its opening to release the water at the required pressure at the other end.

Irrespective of the pressure entering the regulator, it maintains a constant outlet pressure. The pressure regulator is composed of a hollow cylinder called the throttling stem.

This is connected to a diaphragm close to the outlet end of the regulator. The throttling stem has a spring that keeps it open to allow water to flow through.

The regulator is activated as water flows into it. As high pressured water enters the regulator, it pushes on the diaphragm. This causes the spring to compress and pushes the throttling stem towards the seat. There is an opening before the stem that can be reduced or increased.

This movement reduces the water inflow across the regulator, leading to reduced pressure. The opening around the seat is reduced or increased based on the water pressure that enters the regulator.

The required pressure is maintained in the out-let by the balance between the spring compression and the force on the diaphragm.

Do I need a pressure regulator for my sprinkler system?

Sprinklers are designed to perform under specific water pressure. The pressure required for most sprinklers is often lower than the household water supply pressure. Based on the specific manufacturer’s recommendation, each sprinkler has a pressure rating.

A pressure regulator is needed to ensure the sprinklers have the water pressure they need. The sprinkler system will work based on what is supplied. If it receives water at low pressure, it will perform at low effectiveness.

When the water pressure is too high, the sprinkler system will be overworked. This can lead to damage to several units of the sprinkler. The increased pressure can result in hose bursts or damage to sprinkler heads.

There will not be a steady flow of needed water pressure without a pressure regulator. There may be an unexpected surge in water pressure, a water pressure regulator will ensure that the sprinklers are not affected by such a sudden change.

Spikes and surges in water pressure will not have adverse effects on the irrigation system. It ultimately means a greener garden or healthy plantation. More life will be for the sprinkler system. The correct sprinkling pattern and droplet sizes are maintained consistently.

This is to say that even if the incoming water pressure is the same as what the sprinklers require.

Get a pressure regulator to safeguard against sudden surges in water pressure. The situation can go out of hand within minutes of an unexpected increase in water supply pressure.

High water pressure above a sprinkler’s requirement does not only lead to damage. The sprinkler can produce mists when the pressure is too much. This leads to a waste of water and inordinate sprinkling.

Having a pressure regulator is needed to conserve water as the needed amount gets to the sprinklers.

Adjustable or Preset pressure regulator?

Water pressure regulators can be of two types. One is the adjustable regulator that allows the PSI needed to be set at any time.

This means that you can use it to determine the pressure of the output water it produces at any time by just adjusting the settings.

The preset regulator on the other hand is not adjustable. It is purchased with an output pressure already set. This means that if a preset water pressure regulator is set at 25 PSI, it cannot deliver water above or below that pressure.

For a preset regulator, the output pressure can only be changed by purchasing a new one. The old regulator will have to be completely replaced by another one with the required pressure. There are some advantages and disadvantages to both types of regulators.

The adjustable regulators are relatively costlier than the preset ones. As much as the adjustable ones offer flexibility, they can also lead to error. It can be mistakenly set to a wrong pressure by anyone. There is less room for such errors in a preset regulator.

A change in the sprinkler system may mean a change of regulator if it is preset. Because a new sprinkler may require a different water pressure than what the current preset regulator supplies. With an adjustable regulator, the new pressure will just be switched to.

Another variation in the types of water regulators that may be considered is the material types. There are two materials used for regulators. It is either heavy-duty brass or plastic. The plastic material is way cheaper than the brass regulators.

But both generally function in the same way. You may choose the brass option in outdoor environments where the weather is quite intense.

What water pressure is needed for sprinklers?

There is no straight jacket to this. Each manufacturer specifies the exact pressure needed for a sprinkler. An important thing to note is that there must be a 5 PSI pressure addition for the in-line system.

This will allow the sprinklers across the lines to have adequate water pressure to work well.

The average pressure of most household water is over 35 PSI. Household water pressure is usually within the range of 30 to 50 PSI. This pressure can be measured using a water gauge or a flow meter by attaching it to an outdoor faucet.

Most sprinkler systems require lesser pressure of about 30 PSI. Check the manufacturer’s specification for your sprinkler to ascertain the exact pressure range that suits it. Here is something you can work with for spray heads and rotators.

The usual working water pressure for spray heads and rotators is 30 PSI. A drop in the water pressure below this value will lead to a reduction in the spraying radius of the sprinklers. This may call for using more sprinklers to accommodate the reduced reach.

On an increased pressure to about 40 PSI, misting will result. This will cause a waste of water and ineffective irrigation. Both cases of reduced or increased pressure can be controlled with a pressure regulator installed along the sprinkler system main water line.

Drip emitters are adapted to work with water pressure around 20 PSI. High pressure around 40 PSI will cause the drip heads to break apart. Rotors are another type that works best at pressures above 30 PSI.

The rotor is the best choice for places with high water pressure. When the pressure falls below the required amount, the sprinklers will reduce in area of coverage. Installing a pressure regulator will help the pressure at the required levels.

Where should a sprinkler pressure regulator be installed?

The pressure regulator is needed to keep the water pressure entering the sprinkler system at the needed levels. The regulator must then be installed along the main water line of the sprinkler system.

This will ensure that the water passes through the regulator before making its way into the sprinklers. If there is a main shut-off valve for the sprinkler water line, the regulator should come just after it. The main water line should begin with the pressure regulator.

How to install the pressure regulator

Installation of the regulator can be done easily without calling an expert. The water pressure regulator pack should contain enough information on how to install it. It is important to install it in the right way so that it will do the expected job.

Once the right place to install it has been marked, shut off the main water line. This will help keep water away from the line as the installation is done. Make a cut of about 6 inches on the pipeline to accommodate the regulator.

Ensure to have the valve facing the right direction. Fit the regulator into the open ends of the pipe.

Fliers can be used to tighten the ends for a proper fitting. This is followed by adjusting the pressure to the desired value if it is an adjustable type.

Adjustable pressure regulators have a screw on the head. This screw is used to adjust the pressure to the desired value. Once the regulator has been fixed, the pressure reading can be measured to ascertain it is working properly. Tighten or loosen the screw to reduce or increase the water pressure.

How do I know if my pressure regulator is bad?

The first place to discover if the pressure regulator is working or not is the sprinkler’s output.

The main aim of installing a pressure regulator is to keep the sprinklers at optimum performance. Once this is not the case or no longer the case, then the regulator may be out of order.

Look out for fogging or misting by the sprinkler heads. This is an indicator of a possible surge in water pressure.

Another sign of a faulty pressure regulator is sprinkler heads getting blown out of their holds, or any other form of damages. Leakages are also signs that can show high pressure.

When the areas covered by each sprinkler head are reducing, it can indicate a fall in the water pressure. If the pressure reaching the sprinkler system is low, the heads will not spray enough water. These are signs to know the pressure regulator is not working well.

What happens if the pressure regulator fails?

It has been established that a water pressure regulator is needed for a steady supply of the right pressure to the sprinklers. The sprinklers will only produce as much quality as they are supplied. There are no hidden charges anywhere, it is garbage in, garbage out.

If the pressure regulator fails, then the sprinkler system begins to operate below optimum. Two scenarios can be the case when the regulator fails.

A fall in pressure will mean a reduced radius of sprinkling and a less served lawn or garden.

High pressure above what the sprinklers need can pass on to them when the regulator fails. This will lead to a waste of water or a worse case of wear and tear on the sprinkler system. There is none of the above that is good.

It is important to pay attention to the output of the sprinkler to discover any changes early enough. Failure of a water pressure regulator is not an unexpected occurrence. Wear and tear can occur to any mechanical device.

A faulty regulator should be replaced as soon as possible to ensure the irrigation cost is not escalated. It is also good to invest in quality regulators from the start to save costs and avoid unnecessary repair or replacement costs.

Can I use Pressure-regulating sprinklers?

There is a need for pressure regulation for a sprinkler system. This is important for consistency in quality irrigation. Regular sprinkler systems require the installation of pressure regulators to keep the water pressure consistent.

This may mean an extra bit of work to have the pressure regulators in place. What if there is a way to combine the sprinkler and the pressure regulator in one piece? This is possible, it is already in existence.

There are now what is called pressure-regulating sprinklers. Instead of having to install a pressure regulator, one can just make use of pressure-regulating sprinklers. This type of sprinkler has a self-pressure regulating capacity.

The pressure-regulating sprinkler is a guarantee of an optimal irrigation system. It does not matter what irregularity may exist with the water pressure that enters the sprinkler. The sprinkler will always deliver at the best rate.

A regular sprinkler without a pressure regulator will be hampered by irregular water pressure. This is what is responsible for the production of mist and fogs. There is water wastage and the lifespan of the sprinkler system is shortened.

It is best to install a pressure regulator or rather get a pressure-regulating sprinkler. Water is effectively managed and the sprinklers system is kept at best performance. These efficient sprinklers are no brainer to install, just like regular sprinkler heads.

They may cost slightly higher than the standard sprinklers without a regulator though. But it should generally be worth the extra money since there won’t be a need to purchase separate pressure regulators. Extra time to install the separate regulators is also saved.

Other things that affect the efficiency of the Sprinkler system

Water pressure is a key factor that affects the efficiency of a sprinkler system. But that is not the only factor. There are several other factors that can impact the output of sprinkler heads in an irrigation system.

It is possible then to have the pressure regulator well installed and well functioning and still have shortfalls in the operation of the sprinklers. One factor that must be considered is the gradient or slope of the sprinkler line.

This factor may not be a concern if the sprinkler line is on level ground but this is hard to achieve. The pressure increases as the slope increases, this means that as the regulator controls the pressure, it can still increase by about 3-4 PSI per mile before reaching the sprinkler head.

The number of sprinkler heads in a system is another factor that can reduce the water pressure considerably. This may require the use of boost pumps. The lower the number of sprinkler heads, the more the water pressure in the system.

Final words

Do you need a pressure regulator for your sprinkler system? Oh yes, you do. There is a required pressure for your sprinklers and that needs to be kept consistent. It is important for effective irrigation.

Install a pressure regulator for a lush and vibrant garden or lawn. It will save you unnecessary costs on repairing or replacing sprinkler heads. It is also a good way to avoid water wastage and ultimately water utility bill management.