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How to Start Your Irrigation System in The Spring

How to Start Your Irrigation Sprinkler System in the Spring

A spring start up is a yearly maintenance process where you'll start up your system for the spring and summer season after the winter. This process involves turning on the irrigation system and water supply and a completing a system inspection to ensure everything is operating properly with no leaks or system damage. It will also ensure your heads are covering your yard properly.

A proper spring start up can save you money and save you from issues down the road. It's the best time to complete a system inspection to ensure everything is working as it should.

This article is simply a guide and may not suit your specific system and circumstances. If you live in the US, your system will differ slightly as your irrigation systems are often times tied into the city main line with added water meters, valves, etc. Please consult your local irrigation companies with any questions you may have specific to your area.

Here in Canada, our systems are more straight forward as they tie into our house garden hose valve / spigot. This allows us to skip the added meters and valves, saving you thousands of dollars and dealing with the city.

We offer start up services as well as complete irrigation system maintenance. If you're in the Winnipeg area, feel free to reach out! Our prices and contact form are found by clicking HERE.

Why You Should Consider Hiring an Expert Irrigation Technician for Your Spring Start Up

There are many benefits to having an expert crew starting up your system in the spring. Ensure you check with any warranty as well, failure to provide proof of professional maintenance may void your warranty depending on the company.

So why should you have a professional irrigation technician complete your start up?


A professional irrigation company will have the expertise to ensure your system is running properly, they'll be able to inspect the system while checking for signs of leaks and damage. They're trained to be able to look for signs as well as ensure everything is running smoothly so there are no surprises.

Thorough Inspection

Professional irrigation technicians are trained to complete a thorough inspection. This inspection will ensure your system is running properly with no leaks or hidden issues that may otherwise take a while to show.

If you aren't sure how to check for these signs and your system is damaged or leaking. It could lead to a surprise water bill, damage to the landscape or water leaking into your home causing damage, among other issues.

Things to Consider Before Starting Your System

Outdoor Temperatures

If the temperatures are still dropping below freezing at night, you'll want to hold off on starting up your system. Waiting until the temperatures are consistently over 10 degrees Celsius is imperative to ensure a random cold snap doesn't freeze and damage your system.

Depending on your location, a typical start up is in May, in the prairies, start up is just prior to the May long weekend.

Starting up your system too early can lead to:

  • Cracked or burst pipes

  • Cracked or loosened Fittings

  • Damage to valves and heads

  • System blockages

Did You Blow Out Your System in the Fall?

If you didn't complete your fall blow out, your system may be damaged. You'll want to inspect for visible signs of damage and should expect some issues upon start up. Your system will also be frozen longer than normal and may have ice blocking some of the pipes.

Check for Signs of Damage

You'll want to complete a visual inspection of the manifold and visible main line. Check for damage, wear, cracks, etc. The irrigation box should be free of soil and have no soil or debris obstructing the valves. Animals enjoy irrigation boxes from time to time so you'll want to ensure they didn't make the box their home or chew through wiring.

Process For Starting Up Your System in The Spring

1. Water Supply

After an initial inspection is complete, you'll want to turn on your spigot/water valve to the main line. This will fill the irrigation main line with water so it can be dispersed to each zone shortly.

Did You Know: Each zone is run one at a time in sequence. This is because your water supply has a maximum amount of water it can push through it. If you were to turn on all zones at once, your water supply would not be able to keep up with the water demand. This is one of the reasons why we need different zones. Each zone has a set amount of heads that require a specific amount of water supplied to pop the heads up. This should have been calculated when your system was designed.

2. Check for Leaks From the Main Line to The Manifold

Once the water is turned on, check for leaks and damage from the main line, running into the irrigation manifolds (irrigation boxes). If there are any leaks or damage, turn off the water immediately and call your irrigation technician to fix the issue. If everything seems fine, you may continue.

3. Turn on the Controller

At this time you'll want to check the condition of your controller, check the battery, check for damage and wear. Ensure the electrical cord is in good condition and all wires are connected properly. Plug in the controller if its not already, you'll use the manual control to start each zone one at a time. Each controller is different so refer to your irrigation controller manual if needed.

4. Turn on The First Zone Valve & Inspect

Turn on the first zone, the heads should pop up, if they don't it may be one of the following issues.

  • Valve didn't turn on properly

  • Frozen pipes

  • Leak in the pipe or fitting

  • Damage or loose head fittings causing the head to leak

  • Wiring issue

  • Damaged valve solenoid

Once the heads pop up, you'll want to inspect each one, ensuring there are no leaks or damage. If there is any damage, shut off the zone and call a technician to fix the issue.

5. Adjust Heads

If there is no damage, you'll want to ensure all heads are covering their designated area properly. If there are any heads that are spraying where they shouldn't, you'll want to adjust them accordingly.

6. Repeat Steps 4 & 5

Turn off the valve to the zone you just inspected and set. Now turn on the next zone and repeat steps 4 and 5. Repeat this process until all zones have been inspected and set properly.

7. Turn Off the Final Zone, Ensure Timers Are Set Properly

Once you're finished setting and inspecting each zone, turn off the final zone. At this time, go through the timers one at a time to ensure they're set properly. Make any adjustments necessary and set the controller to "Auto" (depending on the controller, this may be different). If you have a rain / freeze sensor, you'll want to inspect and set it at this time.

8. Inspect The Yard

Complete a final property walkthrough. The area should be wet from setting heads and the inspection however it shouldn't be soaked. If you see signs of water pooling, you may have a leak, you'll want to keep an eye on the area and ensure everything is fine.

Your irrigation system start up should be complete! You'll want to keep an eye on your system for the first week and make adjustments as needed. Ensure the water supply stays on.

Pro Tip: Temperatures change throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons. Lawns and plants require different watering conditions during these changes, it's a great idea to adjust your system two or three times each year to ensure your property is being watered appropriately. A rain / freeze sensor will help by shutting off your system in the event it rains a specified amount to ensure your yard isn't over-watered.

Canadian Irrigation System Diagram
A Standard Canadian Irrigation System - Click Image to Enlarge

To Learn How an Irrigation System Works, Click HERE

In the Winnipeg Area?

To Book Your Irrigation Spring Start Up or Fall Blow Out

Q: Have you had issues starting up your irrigation system? What steps did you take to fix them? | Comment Below


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