Helpful Tips For Sprinkler Pump Troubleshooting

A properly functional sprinkler system is the secret behind a beautiful garden. However, every centrifugal device, like the sprinkler pump, occasionally faces a number of irrigation problems. Therefore, to troubleshoot your way out of your problems, here are a few things that you need to know-

  • Components of a sprinkler pump
  • How a sprinkler system works
  • Reasons behind the sprinkler are not pumping
  • Why the sprinkler pump loses its prime

Now that you know the areas we are going to venture through- let’s begin!

Sprinkler Pump Troubleshooting

Why Is the Sprinkler Pump Not Pumping Water?

There can be a few reasons why your pump is not pumping water. Here are some troubleshooting ideas that will help you keep your irrigation system running smoothly.

• No Power Supply to The Pump

When you notice your pump is not starting, although the power is turned on then, the following are a few possible reasons as to why that is happening.

  1. The breaker may have been accidentally turned off, or it must have tripped. If it still continues to trip even after you have reset the breaker then, there could be a wiring issue with the wire connecting to the pump or the motor.
  2. Another possibility could be an issue with the central controller. If the main controller is damaged, then it will be unable to send signals to the pump.
  3. The other possibility could be damage to the solenoid coil. Usually, the main controller powers the pump by using an external pump start relay. It emits a power voltage of 24 VAC that gets relayed to the coil, which then amplifies the power to 240 VAC and powers the motor.

• High Suction Lift

The suction lift is the space between the pump inlet and the water layer. In the event of a drought, the water level usually drops. This increases the distance between the pipe and the water, causing cavitation. So, it potentially ruins the delicate components of the pump. To solve this, you will have to move your pump much closer to the water surface.

• Blockage in The System

This is one of the common pump issues. Contaminants like leaves, moss, pebbles, and other debris can cause blockages in the impeller or in the foot valve. When the water is drawn in through the valve, the majority of the impurities are held back by the intake screen.

However, an excess blockage can cause high suction lift and, thus, cavitation. Also, sometimes tiny particles can seep through the screen and damage the impeller.

Sprinkler Pump Troubleshooting Tips

Pump Not Working

There are usually three possibilities when your pump stops running in the middle of the cycle.

· Faulty circuit breaker –

Sometimes the pump problems can be staring right at you; it could be a defective breaker or fuse. At first, you need to switch off the power supply to the electrical box. You can verify it with a non-contact voltage tester. Then, take a look at circuit breakers. If the breakers have tripped, then you can reset them. And, if the problem lies with the fuse, then you can replace them easily.

· Low voltage –

The pump motor typically requires a voltage range of 115-230 volts for operation. Suppose the current-voltage is much lower than 5% of the base voltage when the motor is at its peak efficiency. Then, there may be loose wiring in the system. By using a set of pliers, you can readjust the wires by attaching them to the connectors.

· Defective motor –

If the issue continues to persist even after you have inspected all the electrical elements, then the problem may lie with the engine. Here, you may have to replace it or have a professional repair the motor.

Water Pressure Is Too Low, Or the Water Isn’t Pumping

· Cracked pump –

Over an extended period of time, there can be crack formation on the surface of the pump. If you notice such external cracks, then you need to replace the pump.

· Trapped air pockets-

Cracked joints or holes in the suction pipe reduces the water pressure and also allows air to enter the system. This causes inconsistencies in water delivery. Inspect the pipeline for cracks and repair them.

You can remove the air bubbles by priming the pump. Each pump model has a specific set of instructions for priming. Follow the procedure step-by-step, and that will get rid of the bubbles.

· Debris –

Accumulated sediments or debris in the vents of the foot valve can reduce the suction rate of the water. Look out for them and clean them off as they can also cause obstruction to the flow rate of water through the impeller.

· Clogged nozzles –

It is relatively more often than not that the filters and nozzles can get clogged after a period of time. If you notice that some of your sprinklers are working while the others aren’t, then perhaps it is blocked. Even pipe repairs can lodge sand into the filters and clog them.

What you can do is that you can remove the nozzle head and wash the dirt off the filter. Then, you ensure that there is no remaining debris left by running the system without the nozzle heads. You can also replace the nozzle and the filter if needed.

· Poor trenching –

Proper trenching is one of the crucial tasks during installation. One of the common mistakes made by many homeowners is that the irrigation system is laid at a depth of 20 to 30 cm (which is the exact height of the pop-ups). This leaves the pipes exposed to get ruptured easily.

To prevent this, you need to ensure that the pipes are embedded at least 40 cm into the ground, and the pop-ups can be connected to the pipes by swing-joint risers. In addition, the risers can help you in adjusting the height of the sprinkler heads according to your needs.

Components of The Sprinkler Pumps

Now, there are many parts to a sprinkler pump. However, once you understand how each works, it becomes relatively easy for you to locate the problem.

  • Shut-off valve– almost every plumbing appliance has a shut-off valve or master valve. You can entirely cut off the water supply with the help of this valve. It comes in handy, especially during pipe replacement or water leaks.
  • Backflow preventer – this device has two main functions. One, it prevents any accidental reverse flow of municipal water supply. Also, it keeps any contaminants from seeping into potable water. So, keeping it switched on during spring is a wise choice.
  • Sprinkler valve box– the valve box houses the manifold and the valves. It is usually located outside along the wall of your house.
  • Manifold – it is the main water tubing that divides the supply of water to different valves. It is a single tube that branches off and individually connects to each valve.
  • Pump control valve – this controls the hydraulic surges by switching on and off the water flow.
  • Electric solenoid valves – the valves run on 24 volts of electricity that is produced by your controller. The solenoid has two wires – a hot wire and a standard wire. The hot wire carries the charges, and the common one acts neutral. These wires are connected to the valves of each zone so they can work independently via the controller.

Sprinkler Heads

The sprinkler heads or spigots are what waters your lawn. They are divided into three types, depending on their precipitation rate (inches/hour).

  • Fixed spray head– These are stationary pop-up nozzles. They spray at a rate over the area.
  • Rotor head– These are rotating types. They rotate in 360 degrees over the place and water a specific part at each time. They can water up to 15 feet of distance.
  • Impact rotor heads – These also have rotating nozzles, except here you can customize the degree of rotation.

How Do Sprinkler Systems Work?

So, before we look into what sort of pump problems you may face with your lawn sprinkler, it is best to have a little knowledge of how everything works.

The water source from the municipal water supply flows in the mainline of your house. While a portion of it goes into your home, the rest is supplied to the irrigation systems. The water then enters the sprinkler system through the backflow preventer. It continues to flow down the valves which are located inside the valve box.

The pipes branch off into zones or groups of many. The central controller is connected to the valves and regulates them. It signals the valves to open and close.

When the valves are open, the water flows to the zones and reaches the sprinkler heads. The building up of water pressure allows the heads to activate and pop out of the ground and water the area.

At the end of the runtime, the controller signals the valve to close. The water inside the pipe eventually recedes, and the pressure goes down. This causes the sprinkler head to shut down and go back underground.

Why Does My Sprinkler Pump Lose Its Prime?

Priming is the process where the pump casing and suction piping is completely filled with water without any air bubbles. This is essential for all types of centrifugal pumps. Even a pump that is ‘self-primed’ must have the pump casing primed before use.

However, if you notice that your pump is continuously losing its prime, especially in between the irrigation cycles, then you must check for any leaks in the valve.


Facing problems with water-related appliances is very common, but once you know how to locate the issues, it can be managed very easily. I hope this article helped you understand what troubles you may face and how to shoot them away (pun intended).

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