Is It Time To Upgrade Your Irrigation System? Repair vs. Replace

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    Notice how you have some things that you use regularly that run fine for a while, and then start to break down over time?

    Like your car, for instance. There are regular maintenance needs like oil changes and tire rotations, but then things begin to escalate over the years. You need new brakes. Or maybe you have to repair and polish up dents. When bigger things emerge like transmission issues, you start to wonder if repairing your current vehicle is worth it or whether replacing it with a newer model is the more cost-effective approach.An irrigation system is similar. You may fix sprinkler heads occasionally after going through some regular maintenance, and you may even add zones or change things up as your landscape changes. But at some point, you might find you’re asking yourself, “Which is better in this case: a sprinkler system repair or replacement?”

    Like many of your appliances in your home – think dishwasher or refrigerator – advancements are being made where newer products on the market are running far more efficiently than your older model. But how long should your older model last until it’s no longer serving you best or until it’s costing you more money than it’s worth to keep?

    Let’s review the different factors involved in irrigation system repairs and upgrades so you can gain a better understanding of your options.

    How Do You Know if It’s Time to Upgrade Your Irrigation System?

    A lot of things can influence how long your irrigation system lasts.

    Some experts say the life of the irrigation system you have depends on how well you’ve maintained it over the years. Some systems that are meticulously maintained can work well for quite a long time – think 10 or 20 years.

    But just because your irrigation system is performing doesn’t mean it won’t require replacements along the way. You’ll likely replace a sprinkler head or two each season or require some adjustments.

    The fact is sprinkler system repair or replacement is dependent on a multitude of factors. Ask yourself these pertinent questions to determine your answer.

    Has Your Landscape Changed Significantly?

    Your landscape is certainly a part of the equation when it comes to deciding whether to repair or replace an irrigation system.

    That small tree you planted 10 years ago, for instance, is likely quite a bit larger today. The same goes for your shrubs and perennials. And, in some cases, maybe you moved some plants around or added a landscape bed where you once had a lawn. As such, your current irrigation system may not be covering an area adequately or may be hitting certain things too aggressively, while completely neglecting other spots.

    In this case, repairing your system by moving or adding heads or zones can fix the problem. But if you made some significant landscape changes – maybe you added an entire patio and landscaping around it, for instance – an irrigation expert can help you determine whether he or she can adjust your existing irrigation system or whether you’re better off with a new system to better meet your watering needs.

    Are You Wasting Water?

    Today’s irrigation systems and irrigation system components use much less water than those built 10 to 20 years ago. In fact, older irrigation systems can lose 50% of their water to wind, evaporation, and runoff. In addition to that, sprinkler systems on older systems are designed to overlap, creating pockets of wasted water.

    That means upgrading your irrigation system with a newer, more water-wise system will certainly cut your water consumption and, in addition, your water bill.

    Newer technology can factor in soil moisture and rainfall to avoid watering when it’s unnecessary, as well as be monitored remotely so quick changes can be made.

    And the newest option – digital sprinkler systems – use digital technology to ensure sprinkler heads evenly distribute water to the precise shape of your lawn and beds, going around areas that don’t need water like sidewalks or hardscapes. This eliminates overlap or water waste to areas that don’t require water.

    Are You Using Outdated or Inconvenient Equipment?

    Upgrading an irrigation system’s parts can certainly help you avoid having to spend the money on a new irrigation system. But sometimes the costs can be very similar, depending on how outdated your equipment is.

    Installing a brand new irrigation system can run you anywhere between $7,000 and $100,000, depending on the size of your yard, the materials used, and the controller. It’s a wide range, but there are a lot of complexities to consider.

    But the purpose of an irrigation system is full coverage of your different landscape areas in the correct way, using personalized water requirements and avoiding overlap, overspray, and poor scheduling or lack of modern technology. Why are these important? Because you can save so much water, In fact, 80,000 gallons of water can be wasted in a typical home’s water use. That adds up to $1,200 or more a year. Using smarter technology can reduce your water use.

    Kansas City homeowners who opt for a professionally designed and installed irrigation system can typically get a 10% to 30% reduction in water usage during June, July, and August due to sprinkler system efficiency. That’s a lot of money back in your wallet for you to use on your next summer trip or home improvement project.

    Controllers, for instance, have advanced considerably. Smarter controllers use data about sun, shade, soil type, plant type, and weather to improve irrigation accuracy. They can also be run from a phone or smart home system, making them easier to operate.

    High Prairie irrigation experts prefer Hydrawise smart controllers because they have the best capabilities for remote control and weather-based programming.

    And since your landscape doesn’t require the same watering schedule from spring to summer to fall, you should also be able to change it. Kansas City lawns need less water in spring and fall than mid-summer. Newer, digital irrigation systems can allow for these adjustments.

    Are You Making Irrigation Repairs Too Frequently?

    Another question to ask yourself when deciding whether to repair or replace an irrigation system is how often you’re fixing different things on your system. Do you see leaks in multiple spots every year? Are you making repeated repairs in a single season? Are your water bills going up?

    In fact, if your annual irrigation system repair budget is 50% of a new system, you’d be better off replacing it if your finances allow.

    An older, traditional irrigation system can have 40-plus sprinkler heads, 1,500 feet of pipe, 5 valves, and 10 wires that can continually need repaired or replaced. That can get expensive, as well as annoying.

    Digital sprinkler systems require 80% fewer parts on a similar property size because they are only made up of 5 digital sprinkler heads, 250 feet of pipe, zero values, and 2 wires. They also require less labor and digging to install – from 40 hours of installation time for a traditional system to less than 16 hours with a digital system.

    Should I Repair or Replace My Irrigation System?

    What are the workhorses of the loveliest Kansas City home landscapes? Irrigation systems.

    But like any mechanism you use, irrigation systems require routine maintenance and care. In addition to regular adjustments and spring startups and winter shutdowns, you may be wondering how you can accurately assess your sprinkler system repair or replacement situation.

    You want to keep your landscape green and growing, maintaining a vibrant and lush garden.

    From swapping individual parts to installing a completely new irrigation system, it’s important to know how your irrigation is performing and what options you have for reducing your water use and saving water in Kansas City. And an irrigation system that saves water and works as efficiently as possible can not only boost your greenery and save you time and money, but it can also boost your property value with a healthy looking landscape and a cutting edge outdoor appliance.

    But it can be confusing. If your current system isn’t effective or you’re losing valuable plant material because it’s not watering them properly, you can likely justify the cost of a new irrigation system. But how do you know?

    We get it. Irrigation systems can be complicated. If you’re scratching your head as you’re looking at your sprinkler system, you’re likely not alone. It’s not an easy system to assess.

    Let High Prairie Outdoors’s irrigation experts help. We can take a look at your irrigation system and give you an assessment of how your repairs are stacking up and what an upgrade could do for your property.

    Then all you have left to do is sit back with a glass of iced tea and watch your landscape prosper under just the right amount of supplemental water. You can rest assured you’re not wasting this precious resource and that your water bills won’t surprise you, and – best of all – your landscape is thriving.

    Ready to learn why High Prairie Outdoors could be your choice for professional irrigation in Kansas City? We’d love to learn more about you. Get started today with a free consultation. Together, we can prepare a custom plan that meets the watering needs of your outdoor living space.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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