fIn Part 1 of the Bungalow Gets Grass we rented a tiller and tilled up the front yard in an effort to bring a little curb appeal to the ghetto. This is the beauty that the tiller left us, a wide expanse of bumpy brown dirt. But in the process of turning over the dirt and weeds a piece of funny pipe was turned up too. Luckily the damage was minor, just the funny pipe was chopped, but this damage made me decide to rework how the sprinkler and the main plumbing attach (a little less funny pipe and a little more pvc) so I went to Home Depot and picked up some parts.
(For a simple funny pipe repair see April’s post here.)
Sprinkler Repair Steps
Our cast of sprinkler repair characters:
- Teflon Tape
- PVC Glue
- PVC Primer
- Channel Locks
- Pipe Cutters
- Black Funny Pipe Barb
Step 1: Locate the problem.
I dug out the area from the end of the funny pipe until I found the pipes where the funny pipe was supposed to be attached. Once things were clear I ran the sprinklers to flush out any dirt that could potentially clog the system.
Step 2: Remove the offending parts
I cut out the T with the funny pipe barb because I wanted to extend the pvc out closer to the sprinkler head. Why? I’d rather have pvc than a 4 foot length of funny pipe running to the main sprinkler line. I’m sure it worked fine but the pvc is a bit more “resilient”.
Step 3: Put it back together
I reconnected the main line to a new T. (This actually also required a connector because the removed piece was larger than just the space of the new T. You can make up the gap with more PVC and connectors, just make sure to dry-fit everything before you do major cutting.)
I used primer (the purple goo on the pipes) to ensure the glue would do it’s job. Then I applied a layer of glue (the blue goo) to both the T and the pipe that I was connecting. The glue and primer dry fast so it’s best to do one connection at a time. Prime, glue, squeeze the pieces together. It helps to give a little twist so that everything comes together without air bubbles. Hold it for a few seconds then move onto the next connection.*note: the channel locks come in handy here if you have small hands or the glue has glued the lid shut.
The new pipe runs toward the sprinkler head.
On the other end I primed and glued an elbow. This particular elbow is designed to glue to the pvc pipe on one side and then allows you to screw on a funny pipe barb on the other (as shown). When screwing in the barb you want to make sure that it goes all the way in, as far as it can so that all the white tape is in the elbow. This barb needs a few more turns.
Anytime you have to connect plumbing parts with threads it’s important to wrap the threads with Teflon tape. The tape helps seal the threads creating a water-tight connection. I’ve found that it’s important to wrap the tape with the threads so that it doesn’t peel off during connection.
What do I mean by “with the threads”? Um… I mean you have to wrap the threads so when they screw into place they don’t unravel. I never know what direction that is, so I use my fingers to figure it out. I wrap the tape around the barb and then pretend to “screw it in” to my fingers. If my thumb and index finger don’t pull up the tape, and instead make it lay flat, then the tape is wrapped correctly. If my thumb peels up the tape, then I have to wrap it in the opposite direction.
I know, it sounds complicated, but give it a try and you’ll know what I mean. And don’t worry about the trial and error, Teflon tape is cheap, you can waste one go on testing.
With everything connected and glued, now would be a good time to flush the system again to make sure there isn’t any dirt in the pipes.
Step 4: Test and Revel
Once everything is in place you can turn on the sprinklers to make sure there aren’t any leaks. Then cover it up with dirt. Do your happy dance, you are now a sprinkler czar!
The actual repair didn’t take more than half an hour, including digging, flushing, gluing, testing, and cover. I doubt that leveling the yard will be so easy, but we’ll see.