Anyone do a DIY sprinkler system from well water

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Shaun

Member
Dec 30, 2005
38
Wolcott, CT
I am looking to install a sprinkler system and do it myself. Looking at Toro, Rainbird, etc design pamphlets, all they talk about for water supply is city water. So I was wondering if anyone did their own and can give me some tips. Thanks in advance.
 
Nov 27, 2008
185
Upstate South Carolina
I have a muscadine vineyard with about 24 vines. They are sensitive to dry times like we have here in the Carolinas. So I installed a drip watering system using our old well. It worked ok but I found after a week my plants were not getting any water. The problem was that the small water metering orifices in the nozzles would get plugged up with sand and trash from the well. So it was a pain in the butt to clean out the nozzles every week. Then I put a expensive whole house filter on the system and that solved that problem. Than I noticed my electricity bill was sky high, from running the pump. So I just hooked the watering system up to city water and solved all my problems. It probably costs me a extra 20 dollar's or so every year but when I put that big juicy muscadine in my mouth, I forget all about that. David.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
82,479
South Puget Sound, WA

fishingpol

Minister of Fire
Jul 13, 2010
2,049
Merrimack Valley, MA
Is the well being used for domestic water service right now? If so, you will probably need a backflow device installed. Most towns require it. If the well is just for irrigation, you are ok. Rainbird is a good brand and parts are readily available at box stores. Many landscapers use a supplier to get difficult parts that are not readily available to homeowners. Rainbird has a design service on their site and their may be others out there. I think careful reading and an understanding of how a system works can help you design one.

As far as a well, at my job we have a 700' well with a large pressure tank. We have iron in the water but not much of a problem for the heads. The building siding does get stained if the heads are not adjusted correctly or when wind blows the water at night. The well has pretty much been problem free except last year when the gears on the motor to the wet end stopped meshing. The bolts loosened up over time, and caused it most likely. The drop pipe in the well is 1 1/4" galvanized, due to the size of the motor. Smaller systems can use plastic pipe. It depends on the pump size and torque. At the top of the well, at the wedge connection, it goes to black poly pipe to the tank, a few brass and bronze fittings on the pressure switch and all black poly from there. There is so much to consider as far as sprays and rotors, patterns of spray, length of zone run time, gallons per minute...

In short, yes, a well will work.
 

btuser

Minister of Fire
Jan 15, 2009
2,069
Principality of Pontinha
I've got a sprinkler system on well water. First you need to know your well's recovery rate. So if your well gives you 6gm I would plan on 1/2 that. You could use the well's buffer but your playing with fire, especially if you have a dry Summer or whatever. You don't need a whole-house filter unless you want one. Mine is a small plastic mesh filter that installs inline with the main line before the first valve. When I need to flush it I turn a valve and it backflushes like a pool filter.

I don't know how far into it you want to go. Backflows, valves, heads, sprays, patterns, timers, sensors, blow out. Pretty simple stuff depending on the layout. Don't skimp on the timer, especially if you're on a well. I've got 9 zones and the timer is set up to run each zone twice a week(if it runs at all), but the water usage is spread out evenly and even takes into account shower and home useage patterns. Something to consider if you're on a well.

What is your useage? Lawn or garden?
 

mayhem

Minister of Fire
May 8, 2007
1,937
Peru, MA
^^ Yep. The well is the weak link here. I learned that the hard way...ran a sprinkler on my lawn for about 2 hours or so, came home and wondered who shut off the hose...turned out I emptied my well...went to bed hoping it would recover overnight...it did...but in doing so it brought a ton of silt up with it...enough to pack my house water filter solid with mud. Took a few days to get it under control.

I've been considering building a irrigation system and feeding it with a rainwater collection system instead of my domestic water. Bury a couple 200+ gallon tanks under the side deck, which is significantly higher than most of my yard and put some gutters on the roof and there we are, I could fill them ina couple rainstorms and be as wasteful as I want with the irrigation.
 

Don2222

Minister of Fire
Feb 1, 2010
8,549
Salem NH
Captain Hornet said:
I have a muscadine vineyard with about 24 vines. They are sensitive to dry times like we have here in the Carolinas. So I installed a drip watering system using our old well. It worked ok but I found after a week my plants were not getting any water. The problem was that the small water metering orifices in the nozzles would get plugged up with sand and trash from the well. So it was a pain in the butt to clean out the nozzles every week. Then I put a expensive whole house filter on the system and that solved that problem. Than I noticed my electricity bill was sky high, from running the pump. So I just hooked the watering system up to city water and solved all my problems. It probably costs me a extra 20 dollar's or so every year but when I put that big juicy muscadine in my mouth, I forget all about that. David.
Hello Captain

Interesting, I think the electricity here is cheaper than town water so a well may work if I can afford to sink one!

muscadines look good!
 

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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,195
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
You could also slowly fill those cisterns with well water. The trick is not to suck too much water out of the well too fast. We have folks in my area with residential fire sprinkler systems and well water. They use a big storage tank to hold water since the high flow rate of the sprinklers would quickly run the well dry. That big storage tank is filled by the well but sucked dry by a seperate pump feeding the sprinklers.

In an area of low flowing wells what we do is to place a restrictor on the well outlet right next to the casing. These restrictors are available in 5 gpm, 7 gpm, etc. Choose the right resrictor for your well and you will never dry it out. Dry wells are not cool, it sucks sediment in and you risk that sediment plugging up the gravel around the well screen or the well screen itself. Also, the sand being pumped isn't good for the pump or any of your downstream appliances.

For a residential system with a low recovery well but occasional high demands I tend to seek additional expansion tanks and if that isn't enough then you need to go to a storage/surge tank.
 

mayhem

Minister of Fire
May 8, 2007
1,937
Peru, MA
My well flows about 2.5gpm, barely adequate for residential. I have a 20 gallon pressure/storgae tank in the basement and for residential usage, we ahve never had an issue outside of the time I was watering the lawn.

Figured a rainwater collection system would be nice, take the pressure off my well and not run the electric well pump as much in the summer. Been in the back of my head for a few years, but I've never done anything with it yet.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,195
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
20 gallon pressure tank? Really? The normal tank here is an 80 gallon unit and we try and get at least two on a residential well that's as slow as yours. You're right, 2.5 gpm is hardly anything.
 

gpcollen1

Minister of Fire
Oct 4, 2007
2,026
Western CT
15 years ago Toro was the best and not rainbird but I have no idea what is better right now. I would find a store that specializes in irrigation rather than buy anything at box stores...maybe even on line is better...like here.

http://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/Toro-s/1888.htm

You should be able to get good info from the toro website on design. Just make sure your coverage is good. We used to install a back flow preventer on city water and just check valves on well and pond water. Copper through the basement wall and change to PVC. PVC to the valve manifold and pull poly from there for your zones. Using a pipe puller is obviously easier than digging it all by hand...though there is always enough hand work to keep you busy.

Don't buy a cheap timer/clock.
 

velvetfoot

Minister of Fire
Dec 5, 2005
10,006
Sand Lake, NY
I replaced my well pump pressure switch with an inexpensive switch that has a low pressure cutoff that you have to manually reset. Theory is that is something is left running you'll lose pressure as the pump runs and this saves the well.
 

Shaun

Member
Dec 30, 2005
38
Wolcott, CT
Thanks everyone for the info. The well that would be used is currently used for my domestic water. So my plan would be to tap into the line after the pressure tank and run the line outside to the valves for the zones. The biggest problem I am having is calculating my PSI and GPM. With the well, the stati pressure is right around 40 PSI. Once I open anothe faucet, that pressure drops. So how do I calculate my GPM at 40 Psi like all these design tutorials ask for? Or do I just let the water run for a few cycles of the pump and calculate that GPM and measure the Psi at that time and design the system off those measurements?
 

fishingpol

Minister of Fire
Jul 13, 2010
2,049
Merrimack Valley, MA
You can adjust the pressure switch to increase pressure. Your pump and piping need to be of adequate size. Each sprinkler head emits so many gallons per minute. Your GPM needs to meet those demands, or add zones with fewer heads to run one after the next.
 

gpcollen1

Minister of Fire
Oct 4, 2007
2,026
Western CT
I think the well install report [town hall?] should tell you how many GPM you have - or you have to have it tested...or do a crude measurement with a hose and some buckets.
 
N

nate379

Guest
When I bought my house one of the checks was that it had at least 5gpm. I have well over that I guess. I filled a 300gal water tank a while back and it took maybe 30-35 mins with the garden hose.
 

Beardog

Member
Jan 13, 2011
219
NW CT
We just had a sprinkler system installed this spring. We had our well pump die last fall at 5 years old and we replaced it with a constant pressure pump. This was recommended when we told the plumber our plans for the irrigation system in the spring. We are set at 7gpm and 80psi at the pump with no problem. The constant pressure pump (cpp) has been great in running multiple water using appliances with no loss in pressure. Have Hunter sprinklers and timer with 9 zones. With the well I programmed a 20 minnute 'rest' time between zones with 20-30 minn of run time for most zones and 3-4 zones running a night. Depending on the zone, the system uses 5-6gpm. We have a back flow preventer, good idea when set up to domestic water supply. Overalll, very happy with the system. Was thinking of doing it myself, but thrilled we had it installed professionally. Not rocket science, but two years warranty, free winterization and a job done in a day with virtually no lawn distraction trumped me digging trenches all summer long. Sitting on the back deck or the driveway with a couple beers after work and turning the sprinkers on and watching them run is simply awesome! Toro has a design service on their website if interested.
 
Sep 29, 2010
246
Southern NH
A guy I work with priced out all of the pieces needed for his yard and then for the heck of it called a pro go get a price. The pro's price was less than just the parts, never mind renting the machine and all of his time. Also, if you mess up and miss an area, you need to go back and fix it, where if a pro misses, they will have to come back. It might be worth the hassle to see what a pro would charge. You may be surprised.
 
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