Do-It-Yourself: Replacing a Sprinkler Head

I am as pleased as punch right now! One of the black plastic Rain Bird sprinkler heads of my automatic sprinkler system broke off at the level of the lawn and needed replacement. My initial thought was, “Gee, how much will it cost to hire someone to fix this?”

Then I thought, “How much is the part? Maybe I can do this myself.” I went to my neighborhood home improvement store up the street and found that the replacement part, a pop-up spray head, with tax, was $4.51.  But I was not sure of the process of removing the old head and putting in the new one.

Happily,  I found an online video of how to make this repair myself and it is a good one:

The young woman who later helped me at the store advised me to turn off the water supply before doing the repair – wise words to avoid an impromptu autumn shower! The tools I used for this project: (1) pointed shovel, (2) gardening hand trowel, (3) flathead screwdriver, and (4) a small plastic container to scoop out collecting water around the sprinkler head.

I had to carefully remove a small section of sod surrounding the sprinkler head first (this removed sod will be put back after the repair). The first photo shows the underside of this small section of sod. I used the shovel to do the removal of the sod. After that was done, I scooped out the soil with the hand trowel. The sprinkler/spray head was then easily unscrewed by hand. I then drove to the store to get the right part.

I briefly turned on the water to flush out debris in the part of the sprinkler head that was still in the ground, in preparation for installation of the new part. I turned off the water again, scooped out the collected water, and screwed in the new part. I turned on the water to see that it sprayed and in the right direction. Once I was satisfied with the result, I put back the soil that I had dug out and tamped down the piece of sod.

Looking at the above video, though, got me thinking, “If you can hull a strawberry, you can certainly dig around a sprinkler head!” It’s a transferable skill.  (FYI, to hull a strawberry:

This was my first attempt with replacing a sprinkler head by myself and I am pleased with the results. It may take a bit more time to complete this project yourself, but it can be done. Don’t give up!

I encourage readers to view the repair video – it’s easy to follow – and the strawberry video, too, because it’s not all about work!

TIP:  From my experience, the removable cap and filter underneath can be reused for another sprinkler head. I found that out today.

One of my other sprinkler heads was not spraying water at all. I used the flathead screwdriver to manually raise up the pop-up spray head.

I removed the cap and filter (white removable piece under the black cap) of this sprinkler head and replaced them with the removable cap and filter of the broken one that I replaced today, since those parts looked to be in good condition – problem solved through the use of existing resources.

At the home improvement store, I saw that a kit with just the cap and filter cost about $2.


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