If you’re considering installing an automatic home sprinkler system, congratulations! Your landscape maintenance is about to get a lot less tedious. Automatic sprinkler systems will help your lawn look its best, not to mention save you money and quite a bit of time.
But as with anything automatic, there are a lot of details to get right before everything can be set in motion to run like clockwork. To be sure you’re getting the best automatic sprinkler system possible, you’ll need to hire the best irrigation contractor. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions — and expect detailed, well-thought-out answers!
Here are five questions you should never go without asking your would-be contractor.
1. Does the irrigation contractor have all necessary licenses to install an automatic sprinkler system? Will they also secure permits?
It’s not your job to know every single license required in every township, but you should always make sure your irrigation contractor knows them all and, even more importantly, has them. More and more towns now require permits for all types of landscaping work, including automatic sprinkler systems. Some towns also require that a licensed New York state plumber does all of the indoor plumbing and hooks up the backflow preventer.
You should also find out whether the irrigation contractor will do the permitting legwork for you. Many don’t because of the time and effort required to get them — but someone has to do it. If a contractor does your work without the necessary permits and your town finds out, both the contractor and you can face fines and even a trip to court.
2. What’s the warranty on the sprinkler system? Does it cover materials and labor?
Your automatic sprinkler system’s parts will have warranties directly through the manufacturer, so you should know in advance what brand of materials the irrigation contractor will be installing and how the warranties will work with each individual sprinkler system part — they’re all different.
You should also find out whether the warranty covers damage caused by lawn mowers and other machinery, and whether your irrigation contractor will charge you for labor or replace the damaged materials for free. Neave Irrigation offers a one-year warranty which covers materials and labor.
3. Will the irrigation contractor provide detailed drawings of the sprinkler system with locations of heads, valve boxes and other important items?
There are a lot of pipes and wires involved in an automatic sprinkler system. If you’re doing any other projects around your landscape, a detailed schematic will help prevent damage to the sprinkler system. It will also help with servicing the sprinkler system in the future.
The drawings should include locations of heads and zones, valve boxes, controllers, sensors, main lines, wires and backflows. Neave Irrigation provides our clients with a fully detailed “as-built” drawing after the project is complete. This way, our clients, and our service team, know exactly where each component of the system is located.
4. Will the irrigation contractor use solid PVC pipe or poly pipe in the sprinkler system?
Irrigation contractors, including Neave Irrigation, have recently switched to using flexible polyethylene pipe in home sprinkler systems instead of solid-wall PVC. Flex pipe is more cost-effective and faster to install, but is more susceptible to damage because of the more flexible nature of the pipe. With PVC being rigid, installers dig a trench and place the pipe inside, as opposed to pulling the flexible polyethylene pipe through the ground.
Very few irrigation contractors use PVC anymore, but it’s good to ask when comparing quotes.
5. What kind of sensors will be installed with the controllers?
Sprinkler system sensors have come a long way. Typical rain sensors aren’t as effective as they should be: They sense rain and stop the system from coming on, but they don’t take other factors into consideration.
New, smarter rain sensors factor in temperature and humidity, but each plant in your yard requires different amounts of water, and different parts of your lawn need different amounts of water depending on sun exposure and soil composition. Neave Irrigation is continually testing different sensors to determine which work most effectively.
Controllers have made huge strides, too; they’ll now connect to the Internet and monitor the weather and override the automatic sprinkler system based on actual weather conditions. You can also adjust your sprinkler system via smart phone with these controllers.
If your irrigation contractor installs soil sensors with newer “smart” controllers, you’ll have the best, most efficient and effective sprinkler system available now.
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