Having a beautiful lawn often means having a well-maintained sprinkler system. A sprinkler system that is programmed for your climate, your grass needs, and the appropriate time of year will not only make your lawn look good in every season, it will save you money and give your home curb appeal. A professionally installed irrigation system saves money on water bills and lawn care by reducing water waste. Your smooth-running sprinkler system also helps save the environment by conserving water. If you have a broken sprinkler system, you may be wasting water and money using a portable sprinkler hooked up to a hose to create a lawn that's swampy in some areas and dry in others. Or you may be wasting time hosing down the lawn yourself each morning and evening to ensure your grass stays as green as that of your neighbors.
Put down the hose and call a sprinkler repair professional to get your irrigation system working again. Your water bills will likely drop, your plants and grass will probably perk up, and your spirits will soar again. You can have outdoor sprinkler repairs done for your home, small business or commercial property. Professional sprinkler repair specialists can work with any type of irrigation system, including those that water grass, trees, flower gardens, herb and vegetable gardens, shrubs, and more. You may know what the problem with your sprinkler system is, or it may be one big mystery. In either case, the pros are available to diagnose and resolve your water woes.
Common requests for professional help with irrigation systems include ongoing maintenance, repair of systems that won't turn on, fixing broken sprinkler heads, determining why water is not going to an individual sprinkler head or an area of sprinkler heads, keeping water from running continuously, fixing or reprogramming timers, relocating sprinkler heads, and readjusting sprinkler direction or spread. Pros can also add or fix a water line, work around major landscaping features and repair or install tiny spray heads, a backflow preventer and automatic sensors.
Several factors affect the average cost to repair your sprinkler system or sprinkler system installation cost, including sprinkler system size, brand and type of sprinkler system, square footage (sq ft), parts needed, need to do extensive digging, labor costs, and more.
Handyman versus licensed irrigation professional
Top-rated pros who are specially trained and licensed to install and repair sprinkler and irrigation systems will typically charge a higher hourly rate than non-specialists who are adept at repairing and working with lawn sprinklers. Reasons for this cost difference include the specialist's tools and training, the costs of meeting licensing requirements, and their general industry expertise. Many states require landscape contractors who install irrigation systems to hold either a contractor license specific to irrigation or a contractor license that covers professional installation.
States such as Texas and North Carolina require pros to obtain an irrigation contractor license in order to practice any kind of landscape irrigation. In Texas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is the governmental body that regulates landscape irrigation contracting licenses. According to the TCEQ, "a person may not sell, design, install, maintain, alter, repair, service or inspect an irrigation system — or consult in these activities — in Texas unless the person is licensed by the TCEQ." Other states, such as Oregon and Rhode Island, require pros to hold an umbrella landscape contractors license to install irrigation systems. And in Oregon, a company or individual is also required to hold a general landscape contractors license to repair irrigation systems. To have a contractors license, almost every state requires continuing education. For example, The Sprinkler Guy of Dallas, Texas, explains that irrigators in his state are required to take continuing education classes every year. Wherever you live, just make sure you hire someone who has the necessary license and credentials, is following the letter of the law, has great reviews and can guarantee their work. Here's one example of the price difference between handymen and irrigation professionals:
- Eric's Handyman Services in Mckinney, Texas: $50 for first hour of labor
- The Sprinkler Guy, Dallas, Texas: $70 for first hour of labor
Minimum service rate
Just need a quick fix? No problem at all. But don't be surprised if a 15-minute job costs more than one-quarter of the pro's hourly rate. Often sprinkler repair workers have a minimum service charge for assessing repair needs and doing repairs, typically the equivalent of an hour of labor, to account for the company's time and travel efforts and ensure the specialist won't lose money on smaller jobs. Even if a job takes only 10 minutes, the customer will pay the full hour's fee. Depending on what part of the country you live in, the minimum service rate could be higher.
Hourly rate increments
If you have a bigger sprinkler repair job, most sprinkler repair pros will charge in increments of the hourly fee once the minimum service charge has been met. For example, if a job takes two and a half hours, the customer will pay only for that amount of time, not three full hours. It's always wise to talk with the repair pro before work begins and get a written agreement that details costs and how you will be charged. Here are some examples of incremental hourly rates:
- Eric's Handyman Services: $10 per 15 minutes after the first hour
- The Sprinkler Guy: $35 per 30 minutes after the first hour
Types of repair
The extent of malfunction or damage to your sprinkler system will determine your total repair cost. If your teenage son accidentally ran over all the sprinkler heads with the riding lawn mower, you'll have to add the cost of new parts along with the labor. If a retaining wall gave out or your backyard was flooded and the sprinkler lines got buried or damaged, you'll need new parts plus have to deal with excavation. If you have an older irrigation system, parts may be deteriorating or no longer functioning at their prime, so removing old sprinkler lines and installing new ones will affect pricing. For larger sprinkler repair jobs, a reputable company will come out and give you a free estimate and explain what needs to be done, as well as any factors that may change the final cost. For bigger jobs, be sure to get a written contract. In general, the total cost of a sprinkler system repair boils down to the cost of labor and parts as well as the age of the system. Here are some national average costs for materials and total repair costs for common sprinkler repairs:
- Broken standard head: $5
- Broken broadcast head: $10-$15, depending on style
- Broken pipe: $5 for unions, PVC joint and glue
- PVC schedule-40 pipe: $1.50 per foot for 1-inch pipe
- PVC schedule-40 pipe: $1 per foot for ¾-inch pipe
- Broken valve: $15
- Broken timer: $50 for a 6-zone timer
- Broken timer: $75 for a 9-zone timer
Total repair costs (including parts and labor)
- Replace single broken head: $60
- Valve replacement: $150-$108
- Broken pipe, with full system check and 10 percent discount to new customers: $80 or under
More extensive repairs can cost from $75 to $250 or more.
Many sprinkler repair professionals are active in their communities and look for ways to give back where needed. For example, both The Sprinkler Guy and Eric's Handyman Services offer a 10 percent discount to seniors, and The Sprinkler Guy also offers 10 percent off to military service members. Ask about discounts, even if you're not a veteran or a senior. Companies may also offer a first-time customer discount, such as the 10 percent off the total bill that The Sprinkler Guy offers.
To make a profit and stay in business, companies need to account for cost factors such as transportation and travel time. Transportation costs take into account not only the price of fuel, but also the cost to maintain the company vehicle. If a job site is outside the company's range of service, there may be an additional travel fee. For example, Eric's Handyman Services charges a $10 travel fee for each day after the first day of work when a repair site is outside of his service area.
Your sprinkler system seldom starts blasting water at your neighbor's front porch right when the sprinkler company is en route to make their annual maintenance visit. Emergencies often happen on Sunday mornings, or Friday nights, or right in the middle of a holiday weekend. Fortunately, sprinkler repair specialists are on call for emergency situations, which can prevent your lawn from turning into a swamp or your house from flooding. Many companies charge an additional fee if they're called after hours or required to fast-track a customer's needs. The Sprinkler Guy, however, does not charge a higher rate for urgent calls.
When to winterize
In colder parts of the country like the Northeast, you probably need to winterize your sprinkler system to prevent your pipes from bursting or suffering damage once the ground freezes. Winterization includes insulating above-ground sprinkler elements, programming the system for safe non-operation over the winter, and draining the water from the underground lines. Usually residual water is removed from the lines by blowing it out with an air compressor. If you live in warmer zones, such as Southern California, you likely don't need to spend the money to winterize. According to The Sprinkler Guy, temperatures must stay below freezing for several weeks to affect an irrigation system. That's why in Texas, he says, people with sprinkler systems just need to turn off their controller during cooler weather to protect the system.
When the ground begins to thaw and the plants begin to bloom again, it's time to schedule a sprinkler system tuneup or maintenance check to resolve any potential challenges before they turn into real problems. Typically a tuneup includes checking for wear and tear, checking all your valves and sprinkler heads, checking your water pressure, confirming that your system controller is in good working order and communicating with all the system components, clearing away any debris that could clog the system or sprinkler heads.
- Read client reviews to make sure you're choosing the right pro for your project. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.