Dirty sprinkler heads can cause many problems, from decreased water pressure to poor water distribution. If they get really bad, they can even leak, which can make things even worse. Fortunately, cleaning your sprinkler heads is a relatively simple task that you can do yourself.
To clean a sprinkler head, remove it from the shaft and unscrew the filter. Wipe off any dirt on the filter and rinse. Replace the filter and screw the sprinkler head back onto the shaft. Turn on the water to flush out any remaining debris. Deep clean sprinkler heads by soaking them in soapy water.
Now that you’ve got the general idea behind cleaning sprinkler heads, let’s take a closer look at the supplies you’ll need, how often you should clean your sprinkler heads, and the best way to clean them. We’ll also share some tips on unclogging a sprinkler head if you run into that problem.
What Supplies Do You Need to Clean Sprinkler Heads?
You’ll need to disassemble each head to clean it properly. This process may vary slightly depending on your sprinkler head model. But in general, you will need:
- An adjustable vice grip (on Amazon)
- Needle-nose pliers (on Amazon)
- A towel
- A bucket (if performing a deep cleaning)
- Liquid soap (for deep cleaning)
- A hard bristled brush (for deep cleaning)
To remove any built-up calcium or mineral deposits, you may also need a rust remover, such as CLR (on Amazon) or white vinegar.
What’s the Best Way to Clean Sprinkler Heads?
Cleaning your sprinkler heads can be a quick and easy process, as long as you’ve got the right tools and instructions. It’s important to do it correctly to maintain optimal performance of your sprinkler system.
To clean your sprinkler heads, disassemble and wipe them clean to remove any dirt, debris, or deposits that may clog the heads.
Follow these steps for a basic cleaning:
1. Lift the Sprinkler Tip
Hold the top of the sprinkler head with your fingers and pull it out of the sleeve. If it’s difficult to remove, turning on the water for a few seconds may help loosen it.
2. Keep the Sprinkler in Position
Once the sprinkler tip is lifted, hold it in position with your vice grips by clamping the shaft. Doing this will prevent it from moving or falling back into the sleeve as you’re busy cleaning the filter.
3. Take the Filter Out of the Shaft
Grasp the sprinkler head and unscrew it to remove the filter. If it’s difficult to grip the filter, you may need to use needle-nose pliers.
If you’re cleaning multiple sprinkler heads, label which head the filter came from or keep the filters next to their respective sprinkler heads. Doing this will ensure that you put the right filter back in the proper place.
4. Clean the Filter With a Towel
Using your towel, wipe away any dirt, debris, or corrosion on the filter. If the filter is very dirty, you may need to rinse it with water.
Clean one filter at a time and keep each next to its respective sprinkler head so you don’t mix them up.
5. Put the Filter Back in Place
Once the filter is clean, drop it back into the sprinkler head. Tighten the head so the filter is secure, but be careful not to over-tighten it. Then turn on the water to flush out any debris left behind.
6. Deep Clean the Filter (Optional)
If the filter is especially dirty, you may need to soak it in diluted liquid soap before scrubbing it with a stiff-bristled brush.
Follow the steps above, but before replacing the filter, soak it in a bucket of hot water mixed with liquid soap for 15 minutes. Then use a hard bristled brush to scrub away any remaining dirt or debris.
You can also soak the filter in diluted rust remover or vinegar for 15 to 30 minutes to help dissolve any corrosion or build-up of minerals on the filter.
Once the filter is clean, thoroughly rinse it with cool water before placing it back in the sprinkler head.
How Often Should You Clean Your Sprinkler Heads?
It’s best to clean your sprinkler heads at least once a year, but you may need to do it more often if you live in an area with hard water. Pay attention to how well your sprinkler heads perform and clean them as required.
Sprinkler heads that aren’t cleaned regularly can become clogged with dirt, debris, and mineral deposits. A clog can cause the water pressure to drop and change the spray pattern. Sometimes, it can even damage the sprinkler heads.
Periodically cleaning your sprinkler heads will help extend their lifespan by preventing corrosion and any build-up of mineral deposits. It will also keep your sprinkler heads functioning properly by preventing clogs and ensuring an even water flow.
Tips for Unclogging a Sprinkler Head
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a sprinkler head can become clogged. A small blockage may prevent water from flowing through even after you’ve cleaned it.
If this happens, you’ll need to unclog the sprinkler head. Here are a few tips on how to do that.
One option is to use a pipe cleaner or a small wire brush to clear the opening. Take the pipe cleaner or wire brush and insert it into the opening of the sprinkler head. Gently twist it back and forth to loosen any debris blocking the water flow.
If that doesn’t work, you may need to use something smaller, like a thin wire or paper clip, to clear the opening. This option is a bit more delicate, so be careful not to damage the sprinkler head.
If you still can’t get the water to flow through, you may need to replace the sprinkler head. Luckily, sprinkler heads are relatively inexpensive. Just unscrew the old one and screw in a new one.