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How to Clean Your Sprinkler Heads (Step By Step)

How to Clean Your Sprinkler Heads (Step By Step)

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If you have a passion for lawn care like I do, you may have wondered whether your lawn is suffering from ineffective clogged sprinklers. There is, however, no need to panic – as cleaning sprinkler heads at home is quick, easy, and effective.

To clean your sprinkler heads at home, you will need an adjustable vice grip, needle-nose pliers, and a towel. If your sprinkler heads require a deep cleaning, you will also need to prepare a bucket, a can of standard household dust remover or liquid soap, and a hard bristled brush.

Clogged sprinkler heads are relatively common due to the amount of dirt, grass, and debris in a regular garden. Therefore, cleaning your sprinkler heads at home is essential to ensure you can maintain an even distribution of water and have the best-looking lawn in the neighborhood!

How to Clean Your Sprinkler Heads at Home (Pop Up Sprays)

Before starting your journey towards a perfect lawn, you need to ensure you have all the right tools readily available: an adjustable vice grip, needle-nose pliers, and a towel. An inspection of your sprinkler heads before starting the cleaning process should tell you whether or not your sprinklers require deep cleaning.

If you have never cleaned out your sprinkler heads before, or if it has been over a year since you’ve last cleaned your sprinkler heads, you may need to use the deep cleaning method even if your sprinkler heads don’t appear to be extremely dirty.

Step 1: Lift the Sprinkler Tip

Using your fingers to hold the tip of the sprinkler head, gently grab the top of the sprinkler head and pull it out of the sleeve. It should be able to be lifted and pulled out easily. However, if you are struggling, you may need to turn your sprinkler system on to get the head to pop out.

Step 2: Hold the Sprinkler in Place

You may need to use your adjustable vice grips to clamp the shaft of the sprinkler tip to prevent it from moving or falling back down again while you are busy cleaning the inside filter. You will need to adjust the grip as needed to keep the sprinkler in place.

Step 3: Remove the Sprinkler Filter from the Shaft

To remove the filter inside the sprinkler for cleaning, simply grab the top of the sprinkler head and unscrew by the threaded portion to remove the filter inside. While completing this step, you may need to use a pair of needle-nose pliers if you struggle to remove the inside sprinkler filter yourself.

If you are cleaning more than one sprinkler head simultaneously, make sure to place the removed sprinkler filter next to the sleeve it came from. Do not remove and clean all of the sprinkler filters simultaneously, as this will mix them up when it is time to put them back.

Step 4: Clean the Sprinkler Filter Using a Towel

Now that you have removed the inside filter, you can grab an old towel and use this to clean any dirt, grass, or debris that might be clogging your filter.

Remember to clean one filter at a time and place them back on the ground next to the sprinkler head where they came from as not to mix up the different filters.

Step 5: Flush the Sprinkler System to Clean It

Leave your adjustable vice grip holding the sprinkler in place. Turn your sprinkler system on and leave the water running for a few seconds. The water flow will clean out any dirt, grass, or debris that may be clogging the line.

Step 6: Reassemble Your Sprinkler Head

Your sprinkler head should now be clean, and your system unclogged. To reassemble your sprinkler head, drop the inside filter back into place and remove the adjustable vice grip.

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How to Clean Your Sprinkler Heads at Home (Deep Cleaning Method)

Step 1: Remove the Sprinkler Head from the Sleeve

Remove the sprinkler from the sleeve by pulling it out. This should bring the sprinkler head into the position it would be in if the system was running. From here, you can remove the entire sprinkler head by unscrewing it.

Step 2: Remove Debris By Wiping the Sprinkler Head

Using a dry cloth, wipe the sprinkler head to remove any dust, sand, grass, or other debris that might be clogging it. Check the sprinkler head for small pebbles, grass, or insects that might be causing obstructions.

Step 3: Place the Removed Sprinkler Head in a Bucket

Fill a bucket or plastic packet with lukewarm/hot water. Place the removed sprinkler head into the plastic packet or bucket. The water level in the bucket should be deep enough to completely cover the entire sprinkler head.

Pour a common household rust remover over the sprinkler head while it is submerged in your bucket. This will help break down any build-up of calcium or other minerals. Leave the sprinkler head in the bucket to soak for approximately 30 minutes.

Step 4: Scrub the Sprinkler Head Using a Hard Brush

To remove any remaining debris or build-up, use a hard brush to scrub the sprinkler head, preferably with bristles. An old toothbrush would work well. After you have scrubbed the sprinkler head, rinse it in cold water.

Step 5: Screw the Sprinkler Head Back into the Sleeve

Screw the sprinkler head back into its original sleeve. It should fit back normally and not pop out of the ground. Once everything is back in place, you may want to turn your sprinkler system on to check that everything is running smoothly and test that there are no leaks.

How Often Should You Clean Your Sprinkler Heads?

Clean your sprinkler heads regularly, or at least once a year when trying to maintain a highly functioning sprinkler system. Some people like to clean their sprinkler heads more often and will clean their sprinkler heads twice a year.

It is also considered good lawn care practice to check your sprinkler system in the winter months while it is not in use, as the lack of water flow makes it easier for the sprinkler heads to become clogged.

You can prevent needing to clean your sprinkler heads often by checking them regularly and trimming the grass surrounding the sprinkler head to prevent long grass from clogging the sprinkler head.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your sprinkler heads at home is vital to ensuring equal water distribution across your lawn, guaranteeing you have the best-looking grass in town! All you need to clean your sprinkler heads at home is an adjustable vice grip, a pair of needle-nose pliers, an old towel, household rust remover, and a bucket.

You should aim to clean your sprinkler heads at least once a year. However, you should check them regularly for any build-up of garden debris. Check-ups on your sprinkler system are especially important during the winter months when the sprinklers are not in use, as it is easier for the heads and pipes to become clogged from the lack of flowing water.


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