Ken’s Quick Tip: Two Important Tools Every Homeowner Needs

It’s a home owner’s nightmare.  You look outside and realize your sprinklers are running, and judging by the water running down the street, they’ve been running all day long.  You run to your sprinkler controller and turn it off, but nothing happens!  Your sprinklers are still going full blast.  You have no idea what is going on, and more importantly all you want to do is to get it to stop! 

Most customers are surprised to learn that when valves wear out and fail, most are designed to fail in the open position (great design, right?).  The thing to remember is that turning them off can be pretty easy if you have the right couple of tools on hand and know where your cut-off is located.  

All sprinkler systems are required to have a backflow prevention device.  This device keeps the water from your sprinkler system from getting sucked backwards into your drinking water.  If your sprinkler system was installed in the past 30 years or so, your home probably has what is called a double-check and is usually near your water meter.  You can find it by looking for a big, rectangular lid made out of green plastic.  Inside that box you will find a long gadget with two handles at either end of it.  Sometimes the handles will look like faucets but most of them are T-shaped.  The T-handle will be in line with the device.  To turn the water off to the sprinkler system, simply turn either of the handles (it doesn’t matter which one) perpendicular (cross-wise) to the device and that will turn the water off to the sprinkler system and still leave the water going to your home.

Getting the handles to turn can be tough at times because they get old and rusty.  If you’re lucky, you can use your hand but most of the time you’ll need to use a pair of channel lock pliers or a T-handled meter shutoff tool made especially for the job.  This gadget works nicely turning the handles with the added plus of not reaching your hands down into the muddy hole.  If you can’t get the handles to turn or can’t find the cutoff, you’ll need to turn the water off at the meter.  That’s where the second tool comes in handy – a meter key.  This is a must have for all homeowners.  The meter key allows you to open your meter and turn the water off to your home.  A sprinkler leak is bad enough, but at least it’s outside.  If you have a pipe break inside your house, you don’t want to wait for the city or a plumber to come save you.  Use this key to open the meter.  Near the face of the meter you will find a short stub that turns. Use your T-shaped meter shutoff to turn that valve until it stops.  Yes, you’ll be without water but at least you won’t have water running down the street or, if it’s a plumbing leak, inside your home.  Where can you find these tools?  Any hardware store will have them.  In fact, some stores sell a tool that has the meter key and the meter shutoff combined into one.

If you’ve ever had Village Green do any sprinkler work on your home, you probably noticed that our technicians always inspect the doublecheck making sure to turn the handles.  The reason we do this is to make sure if you need to turn them in the future, they will be easier to turn because we’ve recently turned them.  They can be very hard to budge because of the before mentioned rust and age.  It’s a small part of our overall service call, but we feel it is important. As I hope you know by now, customer service is what Village Green is all about and why we’ve been around since 1980.

As always, if you have a question regarding your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or email me at [email protected].  I love to answer your questions and often turn them into Quick Tips to help teach our customers on all things lawn and landscape related!