Spring startup checklist

March 16, 2016 -  By

____1. Schedule and price the job
Many companies price spring startups by the zone or by the hour. Tom Horn, president of All-n-One Outdoor Solutions in Jefferson City, Mo., calls his prices “middle of the road.” The company charges $60 for a residential property with four zones plus a $3 to $4 upcharge per additional zone. A commercial property costs $85 for eight zones with a similar upcharge for extra zones. He occasionally charges by the hour, which is useful when he has previous experience on the property and knows the difficulty of the job. A residential system with four to six zones would take about 45 minutes, but commercial projects vary widely. The company charges $48 an hour.

____2. Check the soil
It may feel like spring above ground, but that doesn’t mean the soil under the landscape has thawed. Use a shovel to make sure the soil is frost-free 12 inches deep. Starting the system while the ground is still frozen can damage pipes.

____3. Test the backflow preventer
Since backflow contamination is a serious health risk to the potable water supply, most states require a yearly test conducted by a certified technician or plumber with a backflow preventer test kit. James Barton, operations manager of High View Services in Calgary, Alberta, says having a certified tester on staff is a worthwhile investment because it ensures the test can be scheduled with the startup appointment.

____4. Boot it up
Controller and moisture sensor back-up batteries should be replaced once every six months. After replacing the battery, dust the mechanisms off and start them up. Make sure the timers, sensors and controllers are functioning properly. Reprogram the controller’s schedule, date and time and other settings.

____5. Run the zones
Run each zone and carefully examine each nozzle. Start with low water pressure so the pipes don’t crack or burst from a high-pressure surge. Ensure the sprinklers rotate fully, properly distribute water and evenly cover the lawn. Contractors suggest spending a minimum of three minutes inspecting each zone, observing a full rotation of each sprinkler. Make sure heads are on straight, nothing is obstructing water flow and the heads aren’t buried. A homeowner’s water bill can increase by 10-60 percent from an improperly installed nozzle, experts say.

____6. Make suggestions
Manufacturers are more focused on water conservation and efficiency than ever before. Check the age of certain components throughout the system, and make replacement suggestions if something is broken or outdated. If a nozzle is more than five years old, upgrades can bring 25-30 percent water savings. Add-ons like rain sensors and soil moisture sensors increase efficiency, too, Barton says. Plus, the installation of that upgrade is another sale.

To estimate how much water your customers could save by upgrading equipment or irrigation systems, try Rain Bird’s Online Calculators, here

Want a copy of this checklist for yourself? Download it here.

llustrations: ©istock.com/wildpixel/Ienjoyeverytime/ Bjoern Meyer/Kumer

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About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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