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How to Install a Sprinkler System Part 2

Now that you've laid the groundwork in part 1, finish the sprinkler system installation with part 2 of the process.


  • Step 1: Lay the pipes Lay pipes in the trenches according to your layout; connect them using PVC solvent and the appropriate 1/2-inch fittings. At each sprinkler head location, use a T fitting with a threaded center opening. At the end of each section, use a 90-degree elbow joint with threads in one opening; glue the non-threaded side to the pipe.
  • Step 2: Attach the risers Wrap the bottom threads of a 12-inch cutoff riser with 4 to 5 turns of tape and screw the riser into the T fitting at the first sprinkler location. Repeat for every sprinkler site and every elbow fitting to form a complete sprinkler system with risers at all sprinkler locations.
  • Step 3: Flush the system With the valves on the manifold closed, turn on your faucet. Open a single valve until you see you water come out of the far riser; then, close the valve. Repeat for each valve.
  • Step 4: Perform a leak test Attach sprinkler heads to the tops of the risers. Then, keeping the heads closed, turn on the water and test the piping of each station individually for leaks, ignoring leaks from the sprinkler heads. Repair any leaks in the piping using tape or solvent and retest until no leaks occur.
  • Step 5: Bury the system Cover all the pipes with dirt and fill in all trenches. Bury the manifold, but leave its valves exposed.
  • Step 6: Set the height of the heads At each watering point, remove the sprinkler head. Use the hacksaw to cut down the top of the riser so that an attached sprinkler head will sit 2 to 3 inches above the ground. Then, wrap the top set of threads with 4 or 5 turns of tape and reattach the sprinkler heads, leaving them open.
  • Step 7: Prepare the timer Following the manufacturer's instructions, mount the irrigation timer near an electrical outlet. Then, spool out 18-gauge copper wire from the timer's location to the sprinkler valve, leaving approximately 3 feet of extra wire.
  • TIP: Choose wire with one more conductor than you have valves.
  • Step 8: Wire the system Staple down the wire from the timer to the valves. Then, following the manufacturer's instructions, attach the wire to the timer and the sprinkler system. Cut off the excess wire.
  • Step 9: Set and test the timer Plug in the timer, and, following the manufacturer's instructions, set it to water each station as you desire. Then, put the timer on manual and activate it to test each station individually through its watering cycle. Adjust each sprinkler head for the appropriate volume output.
  • Step 10: Cover the valves When your system functions completely, place an irrigation control box over the valves, and cover the raw edge of the box with dirt. Then, set your timer to automatic and enjoy your newly installed sprinkler system.
  • FACT: No one knows how the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, were watered.

You Will Need

  • Water source
  • Pipe layout
  • 1/2-in. PVC fittings and joints
  • Hacksaw
  • PVC solvent
  • Thread-seal tape
  • 12-in. cutoff risers
  • Sprinkler heads
  • Irrigation timer
  • 18-gauge copper wire
  • Staple gun
  • Wire cutters
  • Irrigation control box

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