It is May and finally the weather is feeling like Spring has Sprung in NJ!

If you are like me, you have waited until now to start your sprinklers. By now most of the NJ Irrigation companies are in full swing starting their customers lawn sprinkler systems, so the wait for an appointment may be a week to 10 days.

However if your handy, and can follow these simple instructions, you can start your sprinklers by yourself.

How to activate your sprinkler system

Tools Needed:

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Small Channel Locks
  • Sprinkler head adjustment tool


  1. Make sure the Controller is in the OFF position
  2. Locate the PVB (backflow prevention device). Verify the bleeder screws are in the closed position ( perpendicular to the opening). There should be (2) normally blue handled ball valves. These also should be in the closed position (perpendicular to pipe).
  3. You will want to ensure that all other valves to the sprinkler system are also closed (this includes the electronic valves located in valve boxes). The solenoids should only be hand snug, DO NOT OVER-TIGHTEN! The drain valves located at the end of the sprinkler manifolds should be in a closed position.
  4. Ensure the drain (blow-out point) is tight. There is a plug located directly after or right next to the bonnet (kind of bell shaped object).
  5. Now you will want to locate the main water shut-off for the lawn sprinkler, these are usually in a basement, utility closet, crawl space or garage. The shut-off is usually located on a 3/4″ or 1″ copper pipe (1 end is going outside to where the PVB is).
  6. Check the drain valve located next to lawn sprinkler shut-off is closed. Now you may turn on the water.
  7. SLOWLY turn on the water at the main sprinkler supply line. The water should run for a few seconds and then stop. If the water does not stop running, most likely there is a valve still open somewhere. Turn off water and try to locate water spraying and then close that valve. Turn water back on and listen again, if the water shuts down after a second or two you are ready to proceed.
  8. Now that you have turned on the water and there seems to be no water leaking, turn on the ball valve located closest to the house. This should pressurize the PVB. Now open the other ball valve to a 45 degree angle, you are now charging your mainline to the sprinkler system. This process may take several minutes, but eventually you will hear the water stop running. While you are waiting, it is a good time to walk around and look for any visible leaks. If you find a leak, determine if this can be repaired by you or if a professional is needed. If there are no leaks noted, you may open the ball valve currently on the 45 degree angle all the way. If a zone seems to be staying on and you know the controller is off, it may be the selonoid screw may need to be tightened slightly. If that doesn’t work, the valve may need to be replaced.
  9. Once the mainline is fully charged and there are no visible leaks, it is time to turn on the controller. Turn on each zone manually through the controller to check for heads that may need adjustment or replacing or any leaks. Once you have gone through all zones and everything checks out o.k., using your manual program your controller to run the lawn sprinkler as needed.

This can be a tedious and frustrating process, especially if you have waited until it has become hot, and problems arise. Don’t worry if you can’t simply take care of any issues that may have arisen, the professionals at Elite Lawn Sprinklers, Pools & Spas are just a call away to assist you

Happy Watering!