Sooner or later, you may need to replace a sprinkler valve (or a solenoid that controls the valve) if you have a sprinkler system at home.
Don't worry. Sprinkler valve replacement is relatively quick and easy, even for beginners. That said, let's discuss the six simple steps you can follow to replace a sprinkler valve by yourself.
Six Steps to Replace a Sprinkler Valve
Step 1: Gather the Right Tools and Parts
As you start the sprinkler valve replacement process, it’s ideal to have the right tools on hand. First, you'll need to determine the correct valve size you are replacing, along with all the parts and fittings that go with it.
Here’s a quick list of the tools you need to have:
Once you have all the needed supplies, you can then proceed to the following steps, where you'll get a bit of elbow grease.
Important Note: Ensure that the water supply to the irrigation system is shut off. This will prevent spraying water everywhere as you are working on the replacement.
You can do this by rotating the main supply pipe's valve handle. When the handle is perpendicular to the line, the valve is closed. Suppose there's no built-in shutoff valve for your irrigation system. In that case, you will need to turn off the main water shutoff or water meter at home.
Step 2: Disconnect the Wiring
If you are replacing an automatic sprinkler valve, you will first need to disconnect any attached wiring into the valve. Familiarize how you disassemble the low-voltage wires, as you will need to put the new cables exactly how they were initially set up.
You may want to take a snapshot of the wire placement with your smartphone. Once that’s done, you can now disconnect the wires from the sprinkler valve.
Step 3: Swap Out the Old Valve
Removing the old valve requires cutting off old PVC adapters below the hub. Accordingly, the new valve will be placed slightly lower than the previous one.
Use a hacksaw, reciprocating saw, or a PVC pipe cutter to cut through the pipes effortlessly. You may want to miss close to the old fitting to preserve as much pipe length as possible. Then, remove all plastic pieces surrounding the cut edges using sandpaper or a utility knife. Avoid letting any debris drop into the pipes– as this may only just start another migraine.
Pro Tip: We recommend checking your local building department for any applicable height requirements you need to follow. Valves that do not meet the minimum height code requirement may require you to use additional pipe or couplings to lift the sprinkler valve higher.
Step 4: Prepare the New Valve for Replacement
It's time to get your new valve ready! To start, install the new PVC male adapters into it. Some homeowners like to use teflon tape (or plumber's tape) on the threads, giving a better seal.
You may also want to use tongue-and-groove pliers just to tighten the adapters. Be extra careful not to over-tighten them, as it may result in cracking.
Step 5: Install New Valve
Afterward, use PVC glue to install the new valve (inside the adapters and the pipe ends). After applying glue, ensure to attach the valve quickly to give it the proper sealing. You may also apply solvent glue or PVC primer to the insides of the female adapter sockets, as well as the outsides of the pipe's ends. This will depend on your specific manufacturer's instructions.
Then, attach the new valve to the pipes and push it down until they are fully seated in the adapter sockets. You may need to let the PVC solvent glue completely dry for two hours.
Step 6: Reconnect Your Wiring and Test
Now that the new valve is attached in place, you will need to reconnect all the wires the same way it was before. You may want to use the photo you took as a reference.
Pro tip: Verify that the new wire installation is correct by ensuring the timer works with your new valve.
Once all the wires are hooked up correctly, it's ideal that you test your sprinkler system to ensure it works properly. Slowly rotate the shutoff valve handle parallel to the supply pipe. Also, don't forget to check the valve and all connections if there are any leaks.
Telling Signs of a Faulty Sprinkler Valve
A sprinkler valve is designed to easily control the water flow of specific zones within your irrigation system. Usually, these are inside the valve box– with four or more valves inside, depending on your system layout. (Related: Causes & Fixes if Your Sprinkler Heads Aren't Popping Up)
To determine the signs of a faulty valve, here are some things to look out for:
Should I Hire a Sprinkler Repair Pro?
Hiring a local sprinkler system company may charge you between $50 to $95 per hour for professional labor alone. If you're planning to cut costs, you may opt for a DIY project instead. It's relatively inexpensive, and the process doesn't require a lot of parts and tools on your end.
Suppose you have some basic plumbing supplies at home, then you can give it a try at the very least. (Bonus points if you have any previous experience attaching PVC pipes with solvent cement).
But keep in mind that a licensed irrigation repair specialist can ensure the sprinkler valve is replaced correctly, all while preventing backflow and following local plumbing and electrical codes. It has high upfront costs, but it may also help you save more money in the long run. (Related: Sprinkler System Cost and Consumer Guide)
Pro Tip: One crucial component to ensuring the project goes well is buying the sprinkler valve's exact replacement part. To do this, we recommend removing the old one and taking it to the local hardware store with you to determine the exact valve type and size.
Also, ensure that the PVC adapters fit your valve socket before making your way back home. Most of these adapters have a male threaded end that is fixed to the valve and a female slip-fit end which you can glue to the PVC pipe.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does it cost to replace an irrigation valve?
Most homeowners pay an average of $250 for a sprinkler system repair. Sprinkler heads replacement may cost $5 to $25 per head, while valve replacement costs $20 to $40 per valve. The labor fee for a sprinkler repair professional may fetch about $80 per hour.
How to pick the right size of valve?
The maximum static pressure loss from the mainline should not exceed 10% of the static pressure available in the mainline. In addition, the valve must either be the equal size as the giant pipe or no more than the nominal size smaller. The manufacturer's recommended flow range and the pressure loss through the valve at the selected flow determine the size of the automatic valves. You will need to get the flowchart of the valve manufacturer for the model you intend to use. This information must be on the packaging of the valve. If it cannot be found on the package, you may check the valve manufacturer's website.
Is the cost of a fire sprinkler system installation similar to irrigation installation?
The two systems are significantly different because a fire sprinkler system operates within a building in response to a fire. In contrast, an irrigation sprinkler works about 2 to 3 times a week throughout the yard. The fire sprinkler costs $2 to $7 per square ft. to install in an existing building.