Routine maintenance involves “preventative” practices that all micro-irrigation systems should receive regardless of age. Proper attention to the following will decrease the likelihood of irrigation system failure:
Follow manufacturer's recommendations to maintain submersed turbine or above-ground centrifugal pumps.
Turbine pumps require little maintenance. If failure does occur, repair requires the removal of the pump, which can be complicated and expensive.
Electric motor routine maintenance:
During the irrigation season, visually check the engine at each site visit for:
Regularly check the engine oil level with the system off.
Change the following based on the manufacturer's recommendation:
Proper water filter performance is critical to minimize emitter plugging. Filters must be periodically cleaned of accumulated particles and debris.Backwashing is a typical cleaning method. A partially clogged filter may reduce system pressure, resulting in reduced and nonuniform water application. Clogged filters also increase pump pressure head and consume extra energy.
Schedule filter backwashing either manually based on a time interval or automatically based on pressure differential.
During irrigation periods, inspect screen and disk filters monthly (or more frequently if needed) by removing the cover and examining the filter element:
Check sand media filters at least twice a year:
Routinely inspect all components related to automatic backwashing:
Visually inspect injection equipment components each time a chemical is injected into the irrigation system:
Be sure to flush the injection system with water following each chemical injection so corrosive chemicals do not remain in the equipment.
Automatic diaphragm valves are relatively reliable but require periodic inspection to assure proper operation. If a valve failure goes undetected, the pump or power unit could be damaged or water could be applied where it is not needed.
Inspect and clean diaphragm valves at least once a year. A valve can usually be cleaned without removing it from the line.
When a valve is opened, inspect the diaphragm, seat, and o-ring seals. Replace any components that are beginning to wear out.
Periodically inspect adjustable pressure regulating valves to ensure correct setting.
If regulating valves are pre-set, check them with a pressure gauge mounted at the regulator, or by attaching a portable pressure gauge to a Schrader valve.
Check pressure gauges occasionally to make sure they are working.
Visually check irrigation system field components for leaks each time you visit a running system. Leaks can develop in plastic system parts (often resulting from animal chewing) and in hardware components like pipe fittings, emitters, and hose adapters.
Walk or ride the field, observing or listening for excessive water flow.
When micro-sprinkler stakes are knocked over, the sprinkler pattern becomes grossly distorted. Check for this problem by surveying emitters as they operate.