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How to Troubleshoot an Oscillating Sprinkler

Updated February 21, 2017

An oscillating sprinkler connected to an outdoor water line sprays a fine stream of water back and forth over your yard or garden. A gear system activated by water pressure causes the oscillating movement. A screw on the side of the water arm lets you adjust the arc of the water spray. If your sprinkler stops working or does not spray in the desired manner, simple troubleshooting steps can help you restore the lawn tool to normal operation.

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  1. Unscrew the faucet knob for the line or garden hose connected to the sprinkler. Verify the water is reaching the sprinkler and there are no kinks or bends in the line.

  2. Shut off the water at the faucet and disconnect the line from the sprinkler to bleed any air trapped in the hose. This could cause the sprinkler to sputter and operate eratically.

  3. Twist the screw in the oscillating sprinkler arm clockwise with a screwdriver to lower the arc of water spraying on a sprinkler. To cover a larger area, turn the screw counterclockwise.

  4. Apply a short burst of spray lubricant to each end of the sprinkler arm if the unit does not oscillate. Wipe down the sprinkler with a rag. Corrosion, rust and grime may interfere with the sprinkler's normal operation. Lubricant loosens the parts so the sprinkler will oscillate.

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Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Spray lubricant

About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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