Why does my sprinkler get stuck?

Updated February 21, 2017

If your sprinkler system gets stuck, you should be able to correct it with some minor setting adjustments or water source tweaking. Oscillating sprinklers come in many forms, such as an impact sprinkler, a travelling sprinkler, a rotary sprinkler or an oscillating sprinkler. Each of these can get stuck in a unique way but are easily fixed.

Impact Sprinkler

An impact sprinkler can sit on the ground if it has a flat base or can be spiked into the ground if the base is a spike. A regular water hose screws into the side of the sprinkler, which activates when the water is turned on. Too little or too much water pressure sometimes causes a sprinkler to shoot water in only one direction, even if the trip collars and trip pin surrounding the base are in set to oscillation. To find out for sure, insert a pitot gauge directly into the stream of the sprinkler as close to the nozzle as possible for a readout. Adjust the water pressure coming from the water source to correct the problem.

Travelling Sprinkler

A travelling sprinkler rolls across the ground as it spreads water. The water hose serves as a guide for the path of the sprinkler. The sprinkler is propelled by emitted water and the rotation of the two arms on the spray head. The arms are adjustable to establish whether the spray range is broad or narrow. If the arms aren't adjusted correctly, the arms may fail to rotate and the base will fail to travel. Adjust the arms to the same angle from the ground but in opposite directions. After they're adjusted to your liking, swing the arms around once to confirm they clear the base of the sprinkler. If the arms hit the base, the base won't roll and the arms obviously won't rotate.

Oscillating Sprinkler

An oscillating sprinkler is a simple horizontal or bowed bar with holes on it, set in a base that sits on the ground. When the connected water hose is turned on, the sprinkler sprays a fan of water that oscillates from one side of the base to the other. The sprinkler base usually features a setting knob or dial, which allows you to set the sprinkler to water only certain areas. Some oscillating sprinklers are able to water just one place. Inspect the dial to confirm that the sprinkler is set to water the desired range and not just one spot.

Rotary Sprinkler

Rotary sprinklers are installed in the ground; they pop up to water the lawn when a connected water valve is opened. Most pop-up sprinklers contain several adjustment slots on the spray head to control various spray-head functions. If the spray head is stuck turning in only one direction, instead of oscillating, then insert the supplied rotary adjustment tool into the arc or rotation range adjustment slot. Twist the tool counterclockwise to close up the rotation range. If the rotation range is adjusted to a fully open position, the sprinkler might rotate 360 degrees in one direction.

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About the Author

Whitney Houston began writing in 2006. Her work has been published in "BUST" and PaperDolls magazines. Houston attended St. Edward's University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in photocommunications (photography and digital imaging).