Lawn Sprinklers – How To Install or Repair Irrigation Main Line Connections

This article describes how to install the stop and waste water connection outside and on the culinary system. For most new construction, the irrigation connection is performed in the basement. In previous years, the connection was always outside near the hose bib or park strip. The main advantage to putting the connection outside is that if it ever leaked it wouldn’t be in your home. New home builders put them in the home because it is cheaper for them. There is less digging involved.

Pre Install Tips

For this type of installation, don’t ever buy these parts from a big box store like Home Depot or Loews. They sell a junky stop and waste with a bell top. It is a piece of junk. You need to go to a real sprinkler or plumbing store. A good stop and waste is made by Mueller and costs around $80. 00. You should always use brass. Don’t substitute with galvanized and never ever mix galvanized with brass. If you ever run into a galvanized main line, use a dielectric union to prevent current. When galvanized and brass mix it can create an electric current that breaks down the pipe. Nowadays, most people replace the galvanized main line because they are so old. Lastly, use at least three rounds of Teflon tape for all threaded connections.

Items needed

Stop and waste, brass tee, two six inch brass nipples, threaded brass elbow, schedule 80 toe nipple, Teflon tape, pvc purple primer, pvc blue glue, reciprocating or hack saw, two pipe and two crescent wrenches, 10 feet of 2 inch pipe, two inch pipe cap, schedule 40 pvc pipe, coupling, gravel, sprinkler key, shovel, railroad pick, and sturdy soled boots. Crescent wrenches are optional.

You will know what sizes after you find the main line. If you are unsure, cut off a piece of main line and take it to the plumbing store and buy accordingly. Most main lines are one inch or ¾ inch.

Outside Water Connection

You could have culinary, secondary water, or both. In each case, the connection is quite different. Most people will know they have secondary water because there will be another green box in the park strip with the connection. If you are unsure, call your city to find out.

Culinary Outside Connection : Placement

Find the water meter in the park strip. Face the house and look directly at the nearest hose bib. This is the way your water line will run into the home. Many people put the connection right next to the house. The theory is that if you are right next to the hose bib you can know right where the water connection will be. However there is one giant drawback. Eventually the connection will leak. When it does, do you want it right next to your house? A better idea is to put it a few feet from the water meter. Then, when it eventually leaks it won’t flood your basement.

Dig

Call 811 (Blue Stakes) before you dig. You don’t want to accidentally puncture a gas line. After the property is staked, you can start digging like crazy. You should have a sharp shovel, a railroad pick, and some sturdy soled boots. Dig down to the main water line. The average depth is 5-6 feet. Some are as deep as 12 feet and some are only around three feet deep. It will seem like forever, but it should only take you a few hours of hard work; or less. You will know that you have the right pipe (generally) because it will either be copper or galvanized and ¾ or 1 inch in diameter.

Turn Off The Water

Call your city and have the water main turned off. Then, double check to see that the water in the house is off.

Cut Pipe

The best tool to cut the pipe is a reciprocating saw with a metal blade. It will only take a few seconds to cut the pipe. You might also use a hacksaw or rolling pipe cutter. Look at the brass tee and measure from groove to groove. In other words, you need to carefully look at the tee and figure out how much pipe to cut. It’s a nobrainer, but you should err on the side of caution. You can always cut more if it’s not enough. Don’t get dirt in the main line. Put something over the pipe to prevent dirt from getting in. A cloth with rubber band works nicely.

Install Brass Tee

Unscrews the tee ends and insert the tee. Make sure it fits snugly. Take a crescent wrench and tighten the tee into place. Most people use a pipe wrench, which is fine, but not recommended by the industry because the teeth mark up the fittings.

Install Brass Nipples

First, install the brass nipples to the stop and waste. You will use Teflon tape. Make three clockwise rounds with the Teflon tape on the threads (universally three times, at least, for all threaded connections). Then, using two pipe wrenches tighten the nipples onto the stop and waste. Make them as tight as possible without going crazy.

Second, install one brass nipple to the already installed tee. Use Teflon tape again. One very important point–Don’t put the stop and waste in backwards. There is an arrow on it indicating the water flow direction. Placing your wrench onto the stop and waste gives you more leverage to tighten the nipple into the brass tee.

Install Elbow

Now, you have installed the brass tee, brass nipples, and stop and waste. Take your elbow and install it to the remaining brass nipple. Don’t forget to use Teflon tape. The elbow should be threaded brass (ideally). Don’t use schedule 40 and never ever use male adapters on this type of installation. Male adapters and schedule 40 elbows are a common cause of failure.

Install Pipe For Sprinkler Valves

Attach a schedule 80 toe nipple to the elbow. Don’t forget the Teflon tape. Then use sprinkler primer and sprinkler glue to attach schedule 40 pipe to the toe nipple. You will also need a coupling to attach the toe nipple to the pvc pipe that runs to the valves.

Install Two Inch Pipe

The stop and waste will have a two inch pipe sitting on top of it. It will be held in by dirt. It makes it so you can turn it on and off with a sprinkler key. You can use schedule 40 pipe and just cut notches in the bottom so that the two inch pipe fits securely over the water main line and the stop and waste. You should use a two inch cap on the top of the pipe to prevent dirt from coming in. To make the pipe look nice, cut the top of the pipe to ground level. Some stop and waste valves are threaded on top. It works very well to thread a two inch threaded coupling to the stop and waste and then glue the pipe to the coupling.

Final Tips

Test everything before you bury. You don’t want to do the project twice. Put a small amount of gravel under the stop and waste. It will help prevent it from getting clogged and help the water go down more easily. Also, make sure you don’t get any dirt into the water main line. Right after cutting the pipe cover the pipe until it is reconnected.

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