Lawn Mowers


Flow Rate Underground Sprinkler System

One of the most important aspects of installing a sprinkler system successfully is determining the available flow rate: the rate at which water travels through a pipe, measured in gallons per minute. The easiest way to find the available gallons per minute is by using a special gauge. Many sprinkler suppliers will loan this gauge on request.

Another way to deduce the available gallons per minute is to measure how many seconds it takes an outdoor faucet, turned wide open, just fill a 1 gallon container. Dividing the total number of seconds into 60 gives you the flow rate in gallons per minute.

Flow Rate and Piping

For most sprinkler systems, galvanize steel and copper pipes have gradually given way too light weight PVC pipe and flexible polyethylene pipe.

Ease of handling, assembly, durability, flow characteristics, cost, and availability for all reasons for recommending PVC pipe in solvent weld fittings as the piping for sprinkler installations. Use the heavy duty schedule 40 for all pressure holding lines. To save money and materials used class 200 or class 315 pipe for lateral Lines that will never be required to hold constant pressure.

The less expensive but less substantial substitute for PVC pipe is flexible polyethylene pipe. It comes in 100 foot and 100 hundred foot rolls and can be cut with a knife. Fittings are inserted into the pipe and held in place with stainless steel clamps tightened with a screwdriver or wrench. The advantage of polyethylene pipe is that it does not restrict you to following straight lines. However, this pliability is a disadvantage as well. You can cut through it with a spade while digging in your garden without being aware of it. Rodents, especially gophers, like to chew holes in it. And it cannot handle enough pressure for it to be used between the water meter and the control valves.

In general, unless you have a large lawn, three-quarter inch pipe is sufficient for the entire system. If water needs to travel more than 100 feet, the friction of water through the three-quarter inch pipe may reduce the available gallons per minute. Use 1 inch pipe for distances over 100 feet to avoid this occurrence.

Our next post will talk about sprinkler heads and risers.

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