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Expert Guide For Spring Opening Of An Irrigation System

This post is for diy-ers and the difficulty level is medium 😀. These steps might be useful for most of the systems but not for all of them.

If your irrigation system is not a simply luxurious one but it was installed due to its usefulness you probably feel the sparing important besides the environment friendliness.

Fortunately, the process of spring opening or recommissioning your irrigation system is not overly complicated. The main objective of this task is to ensure that all functions are in working order and to prepare the system for the upcoming summer season. So, let’s get started and fire it up!

Initial steps

Visible pipework and valve boxes

Before turning on the water supply, it is essential to inspect the visible pipework for any signs of disconnection or damage. This precautionary measure also extends to the solenoids found in valve boxes.

Certain irrigation companies adopt the practice of leaving these solenoids open or dismantled during the winter season. The reasoning behind this is to prevent any potential frost damage caused by residual water remaining within the solenoids.

valve box
Large valve box with four solenoids

If the solenoids are dismantled, lift their top up and check. They should not be dirty inside because any contamination could prevent them working properly. Usually a rubber membrane and a spring can be found inside them. In lack of these, the solenoids are not able to work. Put the screws back and tighten them up properly.

Screw the coil (a plastic cylinder) back in and check that the manual switch on its side (if any) is in “Auto” position. If no any text on it, the switch must be parallel with the longitudinal axis of the coil.

Open any isolator tap in the valve box(es). Usually their handle must be parallel with longitudinal axis of the tap when it’s open.

Repeat this process at each valve box belongs to the system as the most boring process of every spring opening.

Open mains

Now open the main isolator tap. This can be anywhere on a system but you must know it because that is a kind of emergency isolator at bursting for example. Test the tap to make sure it turns freely and not dripping.

Firstly switch on the power of controller and if it’s necessary attach the plugs of controller and pump/relay in the socket(s).

If you have a battery controller, then change the batteries before recommission it. We recommend to start the season with new batteries to avoid a downtime during the summer when you are on the seashore for two weeks far away from your garden.

Some traditional controllers have emergency batteries to hold the time at a shortage. Check the condition of this battery on the screen (battery symbol) and replace it if necessary.

Systems with pump

If your system works from main water (you don’t have tank and pump) then you can skip the next chapter.

Around the tank

On a pump system next step is to check filling up of the tank. Underground tanks are likely to be filled up via ball valves. You have to find a pipe that comes from the water source and ends inside the tank with a ball valve. You may find an isolator tap on this pipe. Make sure that the tap is open to let the water fill the tank.

Taken lid of tank off you have to reach the ball. When you push it down carefully the water is flowing into the tank. When you release it the water must stop. You have to be sure it happens. If the ball valve doesn’t stop the water flowing then that will cause flood around the tank and a big money waste.

At an underground tank the things are slightly different. Opening and closing of the main water is usually managed by a solenoid and a float switch connected to it. First check the solenoid if the manual switch is in “Auto” position (refer to the previous paragraphs).

There must be some cable run into the tank. One of them must go to the pump and there might be one or more float switches besides it. If you are not sure which one is responsible for closing the main water just pull them up one by one. When you lift up the right one and its float ball is turning down the solenoid will be operating and the water starts flowing in the tank. Release the cable carefully just to make sure it isn’t got stuck anywhere. When the float ball is pointing upwards the water should stop. Very important to make sure this operation works perfectly unless you will waste lots of money without noticing it because the redundant water will leave the tank on the overflow pipe straight away.

Rain harvesting

If your tank is part of a rain harvesting system as well there should be a mechanical filter connected on the rainwater inlet(s). As long as you are around that it worths to clean it for giving the rain harvesting system a spring opening as well.

Submersible pumps

Most of underground tanks and lots of overground ones have submersible pump.

Water outlet of these pumps can be sorted on two different ways basically. One of them is quite simple: pipe from the submersible pump comes up and connected to the pipework runs to the solenoids. At this case there is no need to do anything with this part.

The other one when there is a bypass installed on the pipe. Water comes up from the pump and being forced to take a small run via this bypass back in the tank. Other parts of the system are isolated by a tap or cockstop. This is for making a winter cycle when the pump is programmed to run frequently to avoid water freezing in the tank and get the pump damaged. At that case if the bypass is active you have to isolate that and open the tap leading to other parts of the system. Otherwise the water pumped up will be going back in the tank.

Pumps outside the tank

The pump must have been drained in the autumn. They have a bleeding and a draining point at the propeller end, closed by screws or caps. First screw the lower one (the drainage point) back in.

Fill up the propeller house with clean water via the upper point (the bleeding point). We recommend doing this even if you have a self-priming pump. Use a watering can or other accessories with narrow bead. Screw the bleeding screw back in when the water reached the bleeding point.

After this operation, switch on the power of pump.

Normally the water outlet is on top of the pump. You can find a few other equipment installed like pressure vessel, gauge, isolation tap and solenoid after this point. Check if the isolator tap is open and the solenoid is in “Auto” position.

Testing of system

Hereupon you can start testing. Based on type of your controller there are several variations for manual start. Best to look through the manual. If you don’t find yours download the most popular ones directly from their official site here (Hunter, Rain Bird, Weathermatic, Orbit)

Fire up the first zone. If the solenoids are nearby, a clicking noise can be heard from there. At a pump system, a clicking noise can come from the relay as well and obviously the pump will start too.

If it doesn’t happen and surely everything in this guide has been done it’s worth to try to shake and/or lift up the pipe coming up from the pump. Namely the propeller could stick in the wintertime and this small movement definitely could help to give it a mechanical push.

When the first zone run, you can check working of the emitters on that zone. Depending on the length of pipework some time has to pass before the water starts flowing/dripping/jetting.


Pop-up jets need to reach or at least approach the neighbour head(s) around them. Of course the heads need to turn around within their set angle.

You can adjust the Hunter sprinklers with their specific key only. Other sprinklers can be set by tiny allen key or flat screwdriver. Refer to the brand written on top of the sprinkler head.

Walk to each head (try to avoid the water jets 😀) and have a look if there is no serious water leaking around the heads or rising water anywhere referring to any leak on pipes.

Repeat these on each lawn zone.


Prior to starting bed zones with micro sprinklers visually check their position and condition. Mount the fallen nozzles back and reposition the tilted stakes.

After start you can see or hear the holes, chews and cuts. Repairing these problems are esay either under pressure or at turned off zone. Use our Repair Kit. If you have affinity, order one from our site.

Planters and baskets

You have to check the emitters in planters and hanging baskets one by one. If there are no plants in them yet turn off the adjustable bubblers for reducing the useless water consumption.

Sensor check

Good news is you are over the hardest job in spring opening of your irrigation system. There couple of bits left.

Rain sensor

Go to the rain sensor and test it. You will probably find a small stick on its top. Push the stick in for couple of seconds and see if the feedback was coming up on the controller screen. Sometimes the screen cannot be seen from location of the sensor so you might need help to perform this action.

If you can’t move the stick either way probably the sensor got dirty. Firstly note the setting of the cap and take off it by turning carefully to the neutral position and pull up. Following that you can pull out the stick from its nest with its special rings together. Don’t let these rings fall because they are the most important parts of the sensor.

Clean the nest and the rings from spider webs, dirts, etc. Do the steps other way for assembly and test the sensor again.

If you are facing with a wireless sensor, then you can check its signal on the receiver panel installed on the side of controller. Most of the wireless sensor outdoor unit have unreplaceable batteries. If the batteries are flat, then there’s no other way then replace the whole unit.

Other sensors

You cannot test the moisture sensors. The only way you know they don’t work if your system stopped by the sensor (noticed on controller screen) and the soil is dry around it. Unfortunately their location is unknown most of the time.

Check the program

If you have done all these above the only thing to do is check the time and program on the controller. Run through the settings and check up them.

If everything fine turn the setting switch to “Run” or “Auto” position and switch of the sensor to “Active” or activate the sensor on the right way.

That’s all, finally you have finished the mysterious spring opening on your irrigation system.

From now on our system is ready. Our deal is enjoying the garden and the time saved on hand watering.

If you need help with your spring Recommission

Please be aware we don’t know your own system and especially we don’t know the installer of your system so we cannot guarantee you will find our guide 100% useful. If you have any problem in recomissioning your system please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our skilled engineers will give you expert advice regarding your problems and obviously ready to fix them.

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