Be prepared for the Spring season with our easy checklist for proper irrigation system startup and maintenance.
Although it seems like winter never leaves us, the time to turn on the irrigation system comes a lot sooner than you think. Besides thoroughly checking the pumps, it’s also critical to check out your controllers so that you’ll be able to catch any minor issues before they develop into something more serious, resulting in major damage. With our easy startup checklist, you’ll be ready to tackle spring irrigation as soon as the seasons change.
The Perfect Startup Checklist to Ensure Smooth Sailing Come Springtime
- First and foremost, the easiest way to begin your startup checklist is by checking for any critter damage. The winter is a great time for mice to get into the controllers and make their nests among other things, and once nesting occurs, a variety of issues can ensue. The number one issue? Damage to the power distribution boards.
- Next, check the incoming power. Toro’s incoming controller voltage needs to be within 5% of the original source voltage — any voltage drops that exceed 5% of the source voltage can cause some inconvenient problems, like lost signals and inoperable faceplates. (Example: Source = 120 volts, max 5% drop = 6 volts, incoming voltage = 114 volts or higher.)
- It’s important to be meticulous when preparing to turn on your irrigation systems, so checking and tightening every screw in the controller is highly recommended. Pay close attention to the station wires and the common wires that go out to the field. Also, be sure to tighten those little screws on the modular plug that attach the communication wires to the modem boards. If there are loose connections, you’ll end up with a sporadic sprinkler operation or, worse, sprinklers that don’t turn on at all.
- All fuses in the controller also need to be thoroughly checked. While a visual inspection will point out an obvious blown fuse, it’s best to use a volt/ohm meter—this meter is necessary for checking the continuity through the fuse. You can locate fuses on the pump/common boards, the eight station boards, and the power/communication boards. Always replace blown fuses with the same type and rating for seamless functioning.
For an accurate multimeter, Jason Brown, Toro Field Service Manager, states, “a digital, auto-ranging, True RMS voltmeter is recommended.”
“The most important features that will be used are: Measuring AC & DC voltage up to 600V— for measuring power source and station output voltage. A True-RMS meter provides more accurate voltage readings. The other important feature is measuring Resistance (Ohms)— for measuring solenoids & fuses.”
A bullet-proof way to ensure sprinkles are operating properly via the controller is by activating sprinklers using the faceplate or the radio (with OSMAC systems). Turning switches on from the station board only tells you if you are getting power to the head/solenoid.
- Lastly, go ahead and run a communication check from the central to assure all controllers are talking and working properly within it.
According to Brown, you can expect an “increase in life expectancy of [a] controller by performing regular preventative controller maintenance. Most causes of controller failure will be discovered and corrected before permanent damage occurs.”
“It also eliminates or greatly reduces any surprises of irrigation failures during peak watering times, say on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend,” said Brown.
Reinders offers a valuable Golf controller maintenance service program to help further take care of your seasonal needs. See here for details.