How Much Does Sprinkler Repair Cost?
To maintain a flourishing lawn and garden, a fully functioning sprinkler system is key. If repairs become necessary, knowing each sprinkler repair cost will help homeowners better manage their budget.
- The typical cost to repair a lawn sprinkler system ranges from $132 to $406, and the national average cost is $269.
- Some of the most influential factors in calculating sprinkler repair cost include the size and type of the system, the cause and extent of the problem, the parts required for the repair, the accessibility of the system, and local labor costs.
- The main signs that a sprinkler system needs repair include dripping valves, inconsistent water distribution, irregular water flow, and an increased water bill.
- Handy homeowners may be able to tackle basic sprinkler repairs on their own, but larger repairs like those that require digging are typically best left to the professionals.
Successfully maintaining a lawn takes a lot of time and hard work. Fortunately, there are tools to make lawn care easier and more convenient for homeowners. The best lawn sprinkler systems can help homeowners achieve a healthy, plush landscape. Sprinklers seamlessly disperse water throughout the lawn and garden in various programmed spray patterns. An automatic sprinkler system saves time and effort for homeowners so they no longer have to worry about dragging a hose around to water their property several times a week. A sprinkler system also prevents them from having to track how much water the lawn receives on a daily or weekly basis.
Of course, sometimes yard sprinkler systems malfunction and need to be repaired. According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, sprinkler repair cost typically falls between $132 and $406, with $269 as the national average. This guide will explain the factors that play a role in calculating sprinkler system repair costs, the price of each type of repair, the ways homeowners can save money on this project, and the signs it’s time for a homeowner to call a professional for help.
Factors in Calculating Sprinkler Repair Cost
The exact cost to repair a sprinkler system comes down to a few main factors: the size of the sprinkler system, the type of system, the extent of the issue, and the parts needed to fix the problem. The accessibility of the malfunctioning part, local labor rates, and the geographic location of the home also influence the cost.
System Size and Type
As with most home and garden projects, size and scope dictate cost. The larger the lawn, the more expensive the sprinkler system. The type of system can also impact the price of the project. Above-ground systems, in which the sprinkler heads and other components are located above the ground, are easier to repair due to the easy access and do not require digging or extra landscaping work. Repairs for an above-ground system are between $50 and $350. An inground sprinkler system is harder to repair and takes longer, since workers need to dig to access components. These types of repairs cost $50 to $500. Finally, drip irrigation repairs have an average cost of $50 and $450. Drip irrigation can be an above-ground or underground sprinkler system. The underground repairs will cost more because of the additional labor required to access the system.
Problem Cause and Extent
Key factors in determining the cost of sprinkler repair are the cause of the problem and the extent. If multiple components are broken and need to be fixed, making repairs will cost more than just replacing one broken sprinkler head. Of course, if there are multiple sprinkler heads that need to be replaced all at once, homeowners may want to ask for a discount.
Repair Type and Parts Required
The price of each part can impact the total cost of a repair. Plus, most pros mark up the price of parts by 25 percent to 50 percent, in addition to charging for labor. The following table shows the average prices per sprinkler part.
|Backflow preventer||$125 to $900|
|Connections||$0.63 to $7.50|
|Head||$2.50 to $30|
|Manifold repair||$75 to $200|
|Pipe||$0.63 to $3|
|Pump repair||$100 to $200|
|Timer||$37.50 to $450|
|Valve||$12.50 to $150|
|Valve Box||$50 to $85|
|Wiring||$0.50 to $1.50 per foot|
Another factor involves how easy it is for the professional to access the components of the sprinkler system to make the repair. Above-ground systems are much easier to access and cost less than underground systems, which require more time and labor to dig below the surface to get to the parts that need repair.
Labor is the primary factor influencing the cost of a sprinkler system repair. Sprinkler repair companies, plumbers, and other sprinkler specialists charge between $50 and $100 for a sprinkler repair cost per hour. Of course, how much they get done depends on how efficiently they work and how complex the job is.
Most sprinkler repairs take less than 2 hours to finish. A sprinkler head replacement takes less than 1 hour, a valve replacement takes 1 to 2 hours, and a backflow preventer repair also takes about 1 to 2 hours. Many pros have a minimum charge, so homeowners will want to ask about that before hiring them; even if a repair takes only 15 minutes, the professional may charge their rate for a full hour. Others may charge a flat rate based on the project and parts required. The problem with a flat rate is that the pro may overcharge to make sure all of their time and the tools needed for the project are covered in the price. To avoid surprises in the bill, homeowners can ask about the different rates and get a written agreement before the job starts.
Finally, some of the best lawn care services may offer a prepaid annual plan that includes two system checkups and a repair discount. This may be something worth considering to ensure the system is being checked annually and to save some money in the long run.
A home’s location can affect sprinkler repair prices for a number of reasons. First, labor costs can vary geographically because of differences in the cost of living. The demand for irrigation repair specialists in a particular area can also have an impact. Additionally, availability of parts can vary by location, causing a shift in prices. If parts are available locally, their cost will be cheaper than if they need to be special ordered. Finally, soil type in a region can affect the amount of time needed to repair inground systems, since different soil consistencies can be harder to break through and may require special equipment that costs more.
To get a sense of cost based on region, the following are some sprinkler repair prices in major metropolitan areas, not including parts.
|City||Average Sprinkler Repair Cost|
Additional Costs and Considerations
Besides the key factors associated with calculating sprinkler repair cost, there are additional costs and considerations for homeowners to keep in mind when determining the total cost of repairing and managing a sprinkler system. Sprinkler maintenance, additional fees for travel and emergency repairs, landscaping repairs, and incremental repairs versus replacement of the entire sprinkler system at once can alter the overall price of repairing a lawn watering system.
Repair vs. Replacement
A homeowner may reach a point where repairing the sprinkler system is no longer worth it and it’s better instead just to install a brand-new one. If a sprinkler system is older than 20 years, needs to be repaired often, or has experienced significant damage from frost, then it is probably time for a homeowner to look into replacing it. An average sprinkler system repair costs $132 to $406, but this can add up over time if parts need repeated repairs. The cost to install a new sprinkler system ranges from $1,679 at the low end to $3,541 at the high end. It will also cost $50 to $100 per hour in labor to remove the old system.
Many professionals will add on a travel fee to cover transportation costs and travel time if they need to come from a distance to service a sprinkler. Generally, the rate excluding travel fees will be anywhere from $50 to $100; travel fees will vary depending on the provider’s rate and the travel distance.
If there is a sprinkler emergency, such as a burst pipe causing flooding or sprinkler heads that will not retract and turn off, homeowners will need to call for help right away. In this type of situation that needs immediate attention, professionals charge an emergency callout fee that is usually in the range of $100 to $200 in addition to the regular rate. If an emergency happens on certain holidays, homeowners will need to be prepared to pay even more.
Keeping up with regular sprinkler maintenance is the best way for a homeowner to avoid costly repairs. While a basic checkup can be done by the homeowner on a regular basis, it is also a good idea to bring in a sprinkler specialist. For DIY, homeowners can expect to spend $20 to $50 on cleaning supplies and tools to check the system, which includes inspecting valves, cleaning heads, and checking landscaping to prevent clogs in the sprinklers. A maintenance call with a pro costs around $75. The pro will inspect the sprinkler system to look at the heads, valves, controllers, pump, backflow preventer, and other key elements; winterize the system; clean sprinkler heads; and run the system to look for any damage or clogs. It may be helpful for a homeowner to set up an annual maintenance contract with a sprinkler repair company; the cost will generally range from $150 to $250 but could be higher for a very large sprinkler system.
Another unexpected cost could stem from homeowners having to repair damaged landscaping. This can occur when a new sprinkler part is being installed, a leak repair is being performed, or new pipes are being laid for irrigation. Homeowners will want to try to preserve any plants by removing and then replacing them once the repair is complete. Lawn care cost can be around $50 to $200, depending on the size of the area and other factors.
Sprinkler Repair Cost by Type
With so many variables in a sprinkler system and potential problems that can occur, a repair could require different parts to address the situation. The parts needed and the associated costs will depend on the specific problem at hand. Repair professionals typically charge for any parts needed in addition to their labor fee. Homeowners can expect a 30 percent to 100 percent charge on top of the part’s price to cover labor. The following information offers a good indication of what each type of repair will cost based on each part.
|Type of Repair||Average Cost (Not Including Labor)|
|Backflow preventer||$50 to $85|
|Box||$50 to $85|
|Controller||$75 to $175|
|Head||$50 to $85|
|Manifold||$75 to $200|
|Pipe||$150 to $350|
|Pump||$100 to $200|
|Solenoid||$75 to $125|
|Valve||$75 to $125|
|Wiring||$58 to $85 per linear foot|
A sprinkler’s backflow preventer is attached to the main water line, and its job is to make sure water only flows away from a home’s central water system. The backflow preventer can get cracked, or small parts may need to be replaced. This is a critical repair, since a home’s water supply can become contaminated if backflow is not prevented properly. This type of sprinkler system repair ranges from $50 to $85 per backflow preventer.
A sprinkler valve box protects the sprinkler system’s valves from the weather. This large box, made out of polypropylene or another plastic, contains the system’s control valves to adjust the settings. Over time, these boxes can become damaged or cracked from being outside in the weather or from something running into them, like a lawnmower. It costs $50 to $85, on average, to repair a valve box.
Some of the common issues with controllers include sprinklers that activate at the wrong time or run too long, a blown fuse, hidden programs that need to be deleted, and memory that needs to be reset. A repair service can adjust the settings of the controller and take care of rewiring and installing new batteries as needed. Repairing a sprinkler controller or timer costs $75 to $175.
The most common repair is fixing or replacing the sprinkler head, where the water sprays out. Sprinkler heads are constantly exposed to the elements and dirt, leading to wear and tear. However, they do not always need to be replaced; sometimes they are just blocked by grass or dirt in the yard and need to be cleaned or to have the head lowered or raised. A typical sprinkler head repair costs $50 to $85.
The manifold is a pipe with multiple openings that allow water to branch off and flow through different lines to reach various valves. It is made of plastic and can get worn down from exposure and begin to crack or turn brittle. Pros can do patchwork for about $75 to $200 per manifold, but it may need to be replaced if it is too damaged.
PVC pipe, which is used throughout the sprinkler system, can last for many years but can crack or burst under pressure. This can happen if the water freezes in the pipes during the winter. Damaged pipes can be patched if the issue is minor; otherwise, they will need to be replaced. The price will be dictated by the type of pipe, thickness of the pipe, accessibility, extent of damage, and cost of labor. For a professional to locate and repair the pipe, the cost ranges from $150 to $350.
If the pump fails, it will need to be repaired right away. The pump is a critical component of the sprinkler system, as it controls water pressure in the pipes. Several things can go wrong with the pump: a blown fuse, loose wires, excessive water in the motor, or incorrectly configured settings in the motor. A repair service can fit new fuses, adjust the voltage, and reconnect loose wires as needed. Sprinkler pump repair typically costs between $100 and $200 per pump.
A sprinkler solenoid is a wire coil that connects the sprinkler to the controller. When the sprinkler is on, the solenoid creates a magnetic force that controls a plunger inside the valve so that the valve can open up and control the sprinkler system’s water pressure. The solenoid can sometimes get blocked by dirt, sand, or insects and will need to be cleaned out and possibly repositioned properly. To repair a solenoid, the fee is between $75 and $125.
The valve is a critical element of a sprinkler system since it controls the release of water to the various zones in the yard. It can leak or become loose over time and get cracked or damaged. If this happens, the valve needs to be located, possibly excavated, cleaned out, and either rebuilt or replaced. To make sure the correct issue is addressed, homeowners will want to ask the pro if the problem is from faulty wiring, broken equipment, or both. If the wiring is damaged or disconnected, just the wiring may need to be fixed. The cost to repair a sprinkler valve ranges from $75 to $125. The final price depends on the cost of the valve itself, plus the time it takes for the repair service to complete the job. Valve replacement usually takes 1 to 2 hours, so labor rates will depend on the timing.
Without the wires, the sprinkler system will not work, since the wiring provides the energy to keep it running. Over time, the wires can get damaged and fray. This can cause the system to turn off unexpectedly and eventually stop functioning completely. Either a plumber or an electrician can fix the damaged wires by adjusting or reconnecting them, or getting new covers fitted. Hiring an electrician ranges from $50 to $80 per hour. It costs $50 to $85 per linear foot to repair or replace damaged wire.
Do I Need Sprinkler Repair?
Sprinkler systems typically work for years without any issues, but over time parts can wear out and lead to problems. Addressing issues with the sprinkler system right away will help keep the lawn and garden thriving and prevent the problems from getting worse, which could be costly. There are some telltale signs to watch out for: dry patches; dirty water being sprayed; small holes appearing in the lawn; bubbling water coming out of sprinkler heads; sunken areas around inground sprinkler systems; low water pressure; and mold, mildew, or fungus on the lawn. These issues could be the result of dripping valves, inconsistent water distribution, and irregular water flow.
Damaged sprinkler valves can cause leaking, which wastes water and costs money. Dirt and grass clippings can accumulate in the valves, forcing them to remain open and water to leak out. Signs of dripping valves are pooled water and muddy areas around individual sprinklers. Water might also be bubbling up from the ground. Homeowners will also want to note that the sprinkler system can even leak when it is shut off, which is certainly a sign of trouble.
Inconsistent Water Distribution
Functioning sprinkler systems spray water in a uniform way. If hand watering or hose watering becomes necessary in spots, then there is something wrong with how water is being distributed. Wet spots, dying lawn such as heat-stressed lawn, dripping valves, and a higher water bill are indications that water distribution might be off. Problems with water distribution typically stem from issues with sprinkler heads or control valves.
Irregular Water Flow
Changes in water pressure can create irregular water flow, causing major watering issues. When the pressure is too low, vegetation will not receive enough water, and when the water pressure is too high, then the sprinkler system can wear out and eventually break. To check the water pressure, homeowners can simply turn on the irrigation system and see how the water is flowing. If the water pressure fluctuates, then the system probably has a leak or clog that needs to be addressed. Restoring proper water pressure can cost between $50 and $450, depending on the cause of the problem.
Increased Water Bill
An unusually high water bill could be a sign that the sprinkler needs to be repaired. The culprit could be water leaking from a pipe, a bad pressure regulator forcing too much water through the system, or an unbalanced control valve. Homeowners will want to review monthly water bills and compare them in case there is an unexpected increase. If that happens, the homeowner will want to call in a pro to check the sprinkler system to assess any damage.
Sprinkler Repair: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
When a sprinkler system needs attention, some work can be done easily by the homeowner. Many homeowners can clean sprinkler heads and valves with no problem. When a sprinkler head breaks, for example, it can be swapped out as a DIY repair for no more than $20, compared to a professional repair for $75 to $250. Although installing a sprinkler head is a fairly simple task for a homeowner to do on their own, it’s best to learn exactly how to replace a sprinkler system to ensure the project is done correctly. Sprinkler head repair is very different from sprinkler pipe repair and sprinkler line repair, both of which require the attention of an expert. These types of repairs, or others that require digging down in the ground to fix the issue, require a trained professional and special equipment. Trying to DIY it could result in more problems and ultimately more cost for the homeowner.
When homeowners are not sure what the problem is, it’s best to call a licensed professional to assess and locate the issue and determine the most appropriate course of action. Sprinkler professionals are knowledgeable about sprinkler patterns, backflow prevention, and local plumbing and electrical codes, which can help homeowners save money in the long run instead of making costly mistakes when trying to fix an issue themselves. Plus, pros usually provide service guarantees, so they can be called back in if the problem reappears.
How to Save Money on Sprinkler Repair Cost
The best way to save money on sprinkler repair costs is to audit your own sprinkler system every month or so to identify any concerns. First, walk around and look for any sprinkler heads that are leaking water. Keep an eye out for wasteful overspray, which is water hitting the side of the house, driveway, or street. Then cycle through the system to make sure there are no broken heads. Also be sure to check water pressure and the water bill in case anything odd shows up. The following are some additional steps homeowners can take to save money on sprinkler repairs.
- Keep up with routine maintenance. While a service call costs between $50 and $120, hundreds of dollars can potentially be saved through routine upkeep. Proper care includes activation in the spring, winterization in the fall, regular lawn and landscape trimming, and routine cleaning of sprinkler heads.
- Check for discounts. Since sprinkler repair companies usually offer savings if multiple parts need fixing at one time, ask about discounts.
- Wait to schedule the repair. If the repair is not urgent, wait until late fall to get the job done; off-season rates are usually lower than high-season rates.
- Take on some of the easier work. Fix some of the simpler above-ground problems as a DIY project, such as repairs to a damaged backflow preventer, faulty valves, broken sprayer heads, a malfunctioning sprinkler system controller, and/or broken or leaking pipes.
- Don’t skip winterization. Winterize sprinklers by draining the water and turning the system off during cold winter months.
Questions to Ask About Sprinkler Repair
Once problems are spotted with the sprinkler system, it may be time to call in a professional. Homeowners can start looking for one by asking friends and neighbors for recommendations and reading customer reviews and ratings of sprinkler repair pros in the area. Before hiring anyone, homeowners will want to ask the following questions to ensure the company is a good fit for the job.
- How long have you been in the sprinkler repair business?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Do you have any referrals or testimonials from clients?
- Will you provide a free estimate?
- Do you charge a flat rate or by the hour?
- Is there a minimum service fee?
- Do you offer warranties on labor and parts?
- When will you be available to start the repair?
- How long will it take to fix the sprinkler?
- Can you provide a detailed, easy-to-understand proposal in writing with itemized costs?
- Can you walk me through your process from identifying the problem to repairing it?
Maintaining a plush lawn and vivid garden is dependent upon an effective watering system. An automatic sprinkler system makes this so much easier for homeowners, since they can set a timer and not worry if landscaping is getting enough water. There may come a time, however, when the sprinkler malfunctions and a part needs to be fixed. When homeowners are deciding how to fix the sprinkler or whether they want to hire a pro instead, it is helpful for them to ask the right questions and to understand what they will pay for their specific project. The following are a few questions that may come up.
Q. What is the average life of a sprinkler head?
For higher-end sprinkler heads, the average life span is 10 to 15 years. However, less expensive sprinkler heads tend to last only 2 to 3 years.
Q. How often should a sprinkler system be serviced?
Homeowners are advised to have their sprinkler system serviced at least once every year. To have a professional inspect their system will likely cost between $200 and $400.
Q. How can I know if my sprinkler head is bad?
There are several ways to keep an eye out for a sprinkler head that is no longer functioning properly. These include surplus spraying, low water pressure, physical damage, and a pop-up head that no longer functions correctly.
Q. Why would a sprinkler system stop working?
The main reasons that a sprinkler system would stop working include a problem with the pump or wiring that fails to provide power to the system. If one sprinkler zone is not working, that could be the result of the heads being clogged or broken, or it could be an issue with the lines or valves leading to that particular zone.
Q. Can a sprinkler system leak when it’s off?
Yes; there are two reasons a sprinkler system can leak even when it is turned off. Low head drainage could cause the lowest head on a zone to allow water to drain from the lateral piping and out of the sprinkler. In this case, residual water will stop flowing after all the water has left the pipe. Another reason is water that is leaking through the zone valve due to debris that is blocking the valve.
Q. How can I maintain my sprinkler system to avoid damage?
By consistently maintaining their sprinkler system, homeowners can avoid damage and keep the system running for many years. Homeowners will want to keep up with cleaning sprinkler heads, addressing leaks, checking valves, repairing faulty pipes, repairing damaged wires, and replacing the sprinkler solenoid.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, Fixr, LawnLove, HomeGuide, LawnStarter