If you have an older sprinkler system, it is probably starting to show its age. Most older sprinklers will begin to leak or have a clogged valve.
The good news is that repairing an old sprinkler system can be much less expensive than replacing it, especially if it’s just one broken sprinkler head.
The bad news is that some people might opt for replacement only because they don’t know what to do with their old sprinkler system, especially if they are faced with multiple repairs or a faulty controller that keeps breaking.
If you’re unsure what would be more cost-effective, these are some reasons to think about repairing versus replacing your sprinkler system.
First, what parts make up the sprinkler system?
Your sprinkler may have several issues that need to be repaired, including:
- Controller system
- Pipes and tubing
- Backflow preventers
- Sprinkler heads
Even one small piece that is damaged or broken completely can lead to a complete irrigation system failure. However, that doesn’t always mean that you should replace it.
Is It More Expensive to Repair or Replace Your Sprinkler System?
Did you know that the national average cost for sprinkler repairs is between $100 and $400? It’s common for homeowners to spend around $200 for broken piping and new sprinkler heads.
Many people would opt to replace their sprinkler system because they think it’s too expensive to repair, but is that really the case?
Common Sprinkler Repair and Typical Costs
Your sprinkler was so great in the beginning. It kept your lawn in optimal condition day in and day out every year – until it broke.
Here are some of the most common problems with sprinkler systems and whether it’s worth the repair costs.
Faulty, Glitchy Sprinkler Controller
Your sprinkler controller triggers and turns off your system at the set times. It also controls the distance that your system covers.
In fact, the controller is one of the most critical parts of your system, as it also correctly allocates the right amount of water to cover your lawn. There may be other mechanisms that the controller operates for consistent coverage.
Faulty controllers and electrical issues can be slightly more expensive than broken piping. The controller itself may cost up to $300, but further electrical issues could indicate a significant problem with the system.
Water Leaks in Multiple Areas
If your system is constantly leaking and you’ve replaced a valve or broken piping, you may have a chronic leak problem due to poor quality materials.
You should watch different zones and ensure the water flow is correct in each zone. Blockage inside the valve itself or an improper sprinkler design may prevent the valves from fully sealing.
Valves aren’t too expensive to replace on their own, but multiple valves or a faulty design could break repeatedly. This is when replacing your system may offer more savings.
Sprinkler Not Popping Up
If one or more of your sprinkler heads isn’t functioning correctly, then there could be damage to the relay or controller. There could also be mechanical failures.
For older systems, it’s common for sprinkler heads to stop working. However, there are many reasons why these heads won’t work correctly, including a design malfunction. You should have a professional diagnose the problem, and if multiple heads aren’t working, you may want to opt to replace the system instead.
Small Sprinkler Repair or Whole New System?
Unless your current sprinkler system really isn’t covering your yard or has too many significant issues, you may save money with a repair instead.
Most sprinkler repair companies will provide an estimate and let you know what needs to be fixed on your system. It could be a small leak that just needs a patch to regain water pressure.
With the cost of a new system being so prohibitive, it’s important to understand that repairs can often be less than the cost of a whole new system. It is also important for you to get multiple bids when looking at replacement options.
What Should Sprinkler Repairs Cost?
A good rule of thumb is that sprinkler repairs shouldn’t be more than 50% of the cost of a new sprinkler system.
If repairing a sprinkler system is going to cost more than 50% of what it would cost to replace the system, it’s probably better to get a new one.
Sometimes there are things that can be fixed with minimal effort and expense, such as a rusted pipe fitting or broken sprinkler head, but other times it’s more difficult and expensive, such as a major leak in multiple zones.
For example, if you have an underground leak in your pipe causing your lawn to die out because no water is reaching that area, it might seem like all you need to do is dig up the pipe and replace one section of pipe.
However, if you try digging up your lawn only to find out there are multiple sections of pipe broken all over your yard (and this happens often), then replacing one section won’t fix any problems since they’re all broken anyway.
A better option would be to install an entirely new sprinkler system rather than desperately repair an old one which will continue giving problems in the future anyways.
Get an Estimate on New Sprinkler Costs First
Before you reach for your checkbook, find out what it costs to install a new sprinkler system for your home. Many companies provide a free estimate that will cover your whole yard.
If the cost of a new sprinkler system is less than 50% of the cost of installing a new sprinkler system, then consider replacing it.
The key is to get multiple bids for installing a new sprinkler system. If you’re thinking about replacing your sprinkler system, the first thing to do is get at least three bids. That way, you can make an informed decision and compare apples to apples.
Should You Get Sprinkler System Repairs or a New Irrigation System?
It’s challenging to keep your lawn looking great with a broken sprinkler system, and installing a new one can be an expensive investment. You don’t want to spend too much on a sprinkler system that won’t last either.
The key to a healthy yard and a top-notch sprinkler system is to fix issues as soon as they pop up and stick to routine maintenance. If you’re having issues with your irrigation system, contact a professional to get a diagnosis or an estimate on a new system.