RI Lawn Sprinklers Ohio Irrigation Blog


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Watering Tip for Current Conditions

There is no need to water right now unless:

1. You just fertilized and need a spritz of water

2. You have sod and your lawn is dry

Other then that you should have your timer in the OFF position waiting for the weather to be consistently in the 70's.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Irrigation Safety 101: Backflow, When?

Backflow, when?

When do you test your backflow?

ALL backflows need to be tested upon installation, repair and on an annual basis. Now you should only need one backflow test a year, so your installation test is good for a year and same with any repairs.

When do you winterize your backflow?

ALL backflows NEED to be winterized before the first frost. Since the majority of them are outside and above ground they need to be prepped before cold temperatures arise. After the backflow is winterize we follow recommended guidelines and leave the shutoff valves and test ports @ 45 degrees

When do you turn it on for the summer?

DON’T turn the backflow on until there is NO chance of frost. Before turning the water valve on that feeds the backflow you need to turn OFF the shut off valves and test ports. Once you have turned on the feeder valve you will then need to turn on the #1 shutoff valve (pretty fast) until the backflow stops discharging any water. Then open the #2 shutoff valve slowly until the irrigation mainline is under full pressure. Side note: remember to check all of the irrigation valves to make sure that the bleeder screws and solenoids are turned off.

When do you rebuild your backflow?

It actually depends on the quality of water you have but on the average it is every 5 years.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Irrigation Saftey 101: What is a BACKFLOW preventer?

What is Backflow?

A backflow prevention device is used to protect water supplies from contamination or pollution. Many types of backflow prevention devices also have test cocks so that they can be tested or examined to ensure that they are functioning properly.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) holds local water suppliers responsible for maintaining a certain amount of purity in potable water systems. Many states and/or local municipalities require annual testing of backflow prevention assemblies.

Backflow prevention protects the potable water system from minor, moderate, and severe hazards. There are over 10,000 reported cases of backflow contamination each year. Some cases can be fatal. Backflow devices are required by law where needed and must be installed in accordance with plumbing or building codes. A backflow assembly has test cocks and shut-off valves and must be tested each year, if relocated or repaired, and when installed.


Common Irrigation Backflow Prevention Assemblies:


A Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB) is a type of backflow prevention device, used to keep non-potable (or contaminated) water from entering the water supply. A PVB is similar to an atmospheric vacuum breaker (AVB), except that the PVB contains a spring-loaded poppet. This makes it acceptable for applications that are high hazard or where valves are downstream. Pressure vacuum breakers must be protected from freezing when installed outdoors. PVBs usually have test cocks, to which specially-calibrated gauges are attached, in order to ensure that they are functioning properly.
PVBs are manufactured by Watts, Febco, Zurn and other manufacturers. Backflow prevention devices such as PVBs are regulated by the International Plumbing Code, but may also be required by government regulations.

RPZ Backflow Device

A reduced pressure (RP) backflow prevention device is a device used to protect the potable water supply from contaminated water. An RP valve consists of an automatic pressure relief valve in between two check valves. The pressure relief valve opens to the atmosphere in the event of a reduction in the pressure differential between the first two chambers of the device.
The assembly is considered to provide redundant means of protection because: (1) check valves keep water flowing in one direction only, and; (2) the relief valve will operate in the event the supply pressure drops below atmospheric pressure.
Reduced pressure backflow preventers can be abbreviated RP, RPP (Reduced Pressure Principle) and RPZ (Reduced Pressure Zone). RP assemblies protect against backsiphonage and backpressure, and may be used where a potential hazard exists. RP valves can be found in commercial buildings, hospitals, and industrial applications.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Irrigation Safety 101: This Week Backflow Testing


RPZ Backflow Device

Later this week I will be talking about Backflow Testing: What, When & Why

Along with how the backflows are prepped for winter and what needs to be done in the spring before the system is turned back on.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kudos 101: Trudy H. Reminderville Ohio

The following praise came in last night for one of our service techs.

"Bob -- Just a quick note to let you now how pleased we were to get our sprinkling system up and running. Also want to commend (Shawn?) for being professional, good and polite. He took care of our needs in a timely manner. Looking forward to Spring soon and then a pleasant summer. Have a good one. "

Trudy H.
Reminderville, Ohio


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Basic Watering 101: Irrigation Audit

Irrigation Audit:
  • We are promoting water efficiency this Spring. Mention this blog and get your Irrigation Audit at HALF PRICE. The offer is Good until May 12th. Don't bother to ask if we can extend the deadline. LIMITED TIME ONLY.

  • An Irrigation Audit will show you ways to reduce your watering consumption while maintaining a lush landscape. Audits can reduce your consumption 30-50% (or more).

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Basic Watering 101: Rain Sensors

Having a rain sensor should be mandatory, they pay for themselves the first summer you use them. Each rain sensor will have multiple settings and you will need to find the setting that works for you, typically that would be somewhere in the 1/4 to 1/2 inch range. Meaning that once it rains 1/4 -1/2inch the sensor will interrupt any scheduled run times. There are two types of rain sensors: Wired and Wireless. I actually prefer the wired rain sensors myself unless from a installation standpoint the wireless makes more sense. Remember that wireless rain sensors have a battery inside the unit and it WILL need to be replaced every couple of years. That battery is the main reason why I prefer the wired models. Since I don't think it is fun to climb onto a roof every few years and replace an expensive battery so the sprinkler system can work.

Troubleshooting a RAIN SENSOR:

You don't think the sensor works:

  • Easy enough, take a cup of water and climb up to the sensor and poor the water on the sensor and see if it prevents the system from running. Or take a water hose and soak the sensor if you don't want to climb up to it.
Your Timer won't turn on but the timer LCD display counts down like nothing is wrong:

  • Most wired rain sensors are hard wired into the common wire since they only come with 30' of wire from the manufacturer. When they are hard wired the timer acts normal BUT the valves are not getting the electrical signal since the rain sensor has interrupted the signal. The system will go back to normal once the water in the rain sensor has evaporated. When your rain sensor is hard wired your BYPASS switch WILL NOT WORK.
If you Rain Sensor Wire is Cut:

  • If it is hard wired the system will not work since the common wire to all the valves is cut.
  • If the sensor is wireless the system should work if the timer is turned to BYPASS SENSOR
Any Questions about Rain Sensors, email me (Bob) @



Monday, April 13, 2009

We are Officially Open for 2009

We have officially begun our 2009 Irrigation Season today. The Google Calendar is not updated yet we have 60+ appointments to update on it. We are currently averaging a turn around time within a week from the day the call comes in. Some people are scheduling for May since that is our busiest month for Spring Start-ups. Anyone that spends over $650 a year on water should really ask about ways to reduce your watering consumption while maintaining a healthy landscape. There are new products that start as low as $129 that can reduce your over watering by up to 50% depending on how the system is designed and how it has been programmed in the past.

Our current Spring Start up special is up to $20 off the mandatory service call fee.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter to Everyone

Happy Easter, I hope everyone and their families are doing well. At least today should be decent outside. We rescheduled all of our irrigation spring start up appointments from last week. The 10-day forecast looks safe for both the Columbus and Cleveland markets. Our service package special is over, now we are offering a reduced service call fee for a very limited time, please email me for more information: info@rilawnsprinklers.com

Anyone that is looking to reduce their water bills this year, Hunter came out with a great product (Hunter Solar Sync) at a good price point. Only Catch: It only works with the Hunter PRO-C & Hunter ICC timers. Price: $129 + tax & installation.

A lot of people have been asking how much are spring start up service cost. Since we have installed systems between $2000 & $280,000 there is no one price fits all. Our limited time price reduction starts at $51.50, this is good up to 30 minutes on site. After that our labor rate of $62.50 takes over plus any parts or machines needed.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Irrigation Advice 101: Choosing a Irrigation Contractor

How to choose a Contractor:

Do they have insurance?

Providing a customer with proof of insurance takes no longer then call the insurance company and asking them to fax or email proof of insurance to a potential client.

Why does a homeowner need to make sure a company has insurance?

Reputable irrigation professionals will carry appropriate insurance policies to protect you and your property. You could lose your home or business if something happens and your contractor isn't insured.

There is more then just one type of insurance a legit contractor must have:

  • A worker's compensation insurance policy. This protects you from potential liability if one of the contractor's workers is hurt on your property while on the job. Ask for a certificate of insurance before you sign a contract. This simple step will put you on the insurance company's notification list in case the contractor's insurance should be cancelled.
  • A general liability insurance policy. As a general rule, liability policies should have limits of between $300,000 and $500,000 for residential work and at least $1 million for commercial work. This insurance helps protect you in case of unforeseen disasters such as flooding, landslides or other calamities caused by the contractor's work. Again, ask for a certificate of insurance.
  • Automobile insurance. This provides another element of liability protection in case one of the contractor's vehicles is involved in an accident on your property. You may want to ask for a certificate of insurance

Any Irrigation professional will belong to organizations that promote standards in the industry and will have training, certifications and continuing education that they should be proud to display showing their commitment to excellence in the irrigation field. If not, then you should ask.

  • Certification through a reputable institution shows a contractor has demonstrated basic knowledge and skills required to do a job. Contractors with IA certification have taken training and/or passed exams that demonstrate in-depth knowledge of their field. Annual renewal and continuing education is required to maintain IA certification.
  • Evidence of training. Contractors should provide evidence of valid training. Even without certification, you are looking for evidence that a contractor can do quality work. Training is offered through professional organizations, like the IA, through equipment manufacturers and colleges or trade schools. IA classes are widely recognized in the industry and are not brand-specific.
  • Employee certifications and continuing education. The contractor should offer evidence that individuals in the contractor's employment have been properly trained in installation and maintenance. Look for certification appropriate to the work you will have done. The contractor should be able to assure you the work will be done by competent, trained individuals.
  • Safety training and employee education programs. What programs does the contractor have to ensure a safe workplace and to train employees so they can improve their capabilities? Professional contractors will have programs like this to foster pride and company loyalty. Ask your contractor what the firm does to encourage employee education and safety.

What to expect when the job is complete:

  • Expect to be told that your irrigation system is fully guaranteed for parts and labor for a full year. This is the industry standard. The same language should also be in your contract.
  • Expect a final walk-through prior to final payment.
  • Expect full instructions on how to care for the system and how to use the mechanical components of your system such as controllers and timers. Do not expect seasonal reprogramming of timers or periodic adjustment of nozzles once they have been properly set and/or adjusted upon job completion unless it's part a separate maintenance agreement.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Gotta Love the Weather

Our Cleveland branch is reporting scattered snow flurries and temps in the low 30's. After looking at the 10-day extended weather forecast we are rescheduling all Cleveland/Akron & Medina area appointments that were on the books for this week (except our Outdoor Lighting service appointments) to next week. All Columbus area appointments that were scheduled this week are being rescheduled as well. EXCEPT for Columbus appointments scheduled for Saturday April 11th, at this time we are going to stay on schedule and watch the weather for any developments.

Not sure about any of you, but I am more then ready for temps in the 70's.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Consumer Reports: Lawncare Issue

May 2009: Consumer Reports; “Great Lawns for Less”

My wife and I were at Target this weekend and when we went to check out I noticed the Consumer Reports issue mentioned “10 Money saving secrets from the pros” & “Slash your fertilizing and watering bills” since I am always on my eternal quest for knowledge so I decided to purchase the magazine and report my take on it.

Their Save Time & Money Tips:
Fertilize less; they mention that the average homeowner can save $50 a year if they have their soil tested. They did not recommend buying a homeowners test kit from a lawn care store but to call a professional out to do the testing.

Not sure about most companies but I am pretty sure that paying a professional to come out and test your PH level of your soil is probably going to exceed the $50 saved in fertilizing. But by having your soil tested at least you will find any deficiencies you may have.

Maintain your mower; the mention that you should spend a few hours and up to $150 on getting your mower in shape for the season. Things to do: sharpen & balance blades, oil change & basic maintenance.

Maintaining your equipment is common knowledge for most.

Thicken your Turf; they mention the need for over seeding your bare spots so weeds will not overtake them. $50-300

I agree with over seeding when needed but I don’t think it is necessary on an annual basis.

Mow Less; do not mow your lawn too short, mow less grass.

Shorter grass requires more water & taller grass gives you a better color. Your grass should be 3-4”.

Add Compost; they recommend adding ¼” of topdressing once or twice a year since it promotes healthy turf.

I know that would get quite expensive & I thought their article was about saving money, they just seem to mention ways to spend money so far.

Mulch Clippings

Common sense

Water Smartly; they mention the same stuff on our watering tips page, water infrequently w/ heavier run times. Water early in the morning, before the sun & wind prevent the water from being absorbed.
Read our page on Irrigation / Lawn Sprinkler Watering Tips.

Improve Sprinkler-System Efficiency; they talk about drip irrigation, rain sensors, and DU rates on sprinklers.

If you really want to save money and make your system more efficient you should inquire about our Irrigation Audit where we show you how to make your system most efficient and how much water you can save.

Think Beyond Grass; they recommend filling our landscape w/ ground cover, trees, flowers, shrubs and other things besides having all grass.

Do a Weekly Walk-around; do regular checks of your landscape and turf to see when issues arise so they can be dealt with before they become problems.

I agree with this and wish everyone would do a walk through of their irrigation system every two weeks or so.


RI Online SPECIAL: Spring Start-up Pricing

It does not take financial expert to realize that times are tough and we are going to do our part to help our customers out. We are currently offering our Mandatory Service Call Fee at HALF price for our Spring Start up service only. This is a limited offer that will expire June 1st, 2009 or earlier depending on economic conditions. This will bring down our minimum Spring Service price to $51.50 for up to a half hour of labor. After the first 30 minutes on site our labor rate of $62.50 will be billed in 1 minute increments until we leave the site.

If you have any questions email us: info@rilawnsprinklers.com

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Current Conditions for Spring Start-up Service

We have been receiving a number of calls for the spring start up service. Even though it is April the 10-day forecast for both our Columbus and Cleveland markets show low temps at or below freezing. I know how much a lot of you want to start using your irrigation systems but you need to be patient until the forecast improves. It is not worth the risk of damaging your backflow device.

Any questions or comments mail me (Bob) at info@rilawnsprinklers.com

We are aware that our comments feature on this blog is not working and we are working to get that functioning.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Irrigation Watering

Automatic Lawn Sprinklers (Irrigation) is a great way to supplement mother nature. But with water becoming more and more precious we are going to have to start becoming water smart as consumers. I am going to go over a few basic concepts in irrigation which will better help you reduce your water consumption as related to irrigation. First of all it is rarely if ever appropriate to water different stations (zones) for the same duration. There are numerous reasons for this, including sun vs. shade, soil types, slopes, sprays vs. rotors & wind. Another mistake I see is when systems are running during the day time. Unless you just put fertilizer down there is no need for this. You are just wasting water and money, since the sunlight and heat is going to evaporate the water at a much higher rate then if you water properly in the morning. Check next months article as we go more in depth on water conservation. Please submit any questions to Bob: info@rilawnsprinklers.com

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