This Page Contains Educational Material And Actual Video From Our Daily Inspections


There are a great number of irrigation system failures which often go undetected and can cause brown patches in your lawn.

The following images and descriptions are among the most common lawn sprinkler system failures:

Sunken lawn sprinkler head

irrigation system common failures

This sunken rotor head is causing very poor area coverage, it is likely that heavy equipment has caused this problem over years of service.  Poor coverage is not only going to cause brown patches but is also a waste of water resource.

a lawn sprinkler head which is off angle

Lawn Sprinkler System Failures

Here is a great example of a rotor head which has become off pitch.  The rotor is on a bad angle which is causing flooding in close proximity to the rotor body.  Further from the rotor head, the lawn will be moisture starved.  Another great reason to purchase the Thirsty Turf irrigation system audit.

lawn sprinkler system with poor coverage

Lawn Sprinkler System Failures

Here is a great example of a lawn sprinkler system in the middle of a very dry period.  It clearly shows very poor coverage.  The rotor heads are likely sunken or out of adjustment and or have the incorrect nozzle type installed.  Some contractors may use whichever nozzles they have just to get the job done, however, each area has specific  requirements and should be looked at individually.  Many people believe that once a sprinkler head is up and water is shooting out, that in fact it is functioning properly.

This is a very good truth that a running system is not always a functional system.

a clogged lawn sprinkler head

Lawn Sprinkler System Failures

Many sprinkler heads along boulevards and sidewalk areas have silt filters or strainers in them which can clog.  This is a great image of a non working, clogged head which can cause brown out in the surrounding area.

a damaged leaking lawn sprinkler head

Lawn Sprinkler System Failures

Here is a rotor that has either a cracked connection or internal damage.  It is leaking badly and causing flooding nearby to the head.  Imagine the water waste if your system is running during the night and this goes undetected each time!

Misting sprays:

If your system is running too high pressure, this can result in misting  / fogging which reduces overall efficiency greatly.

The Rain Bird PRS (pressure regulating stem) rotors and spray heads can solve this.

See the video below for reference.

Low head drainage:


When a rotor or spray head is located on a slope or in a lower area than surrounding heads / rotors, it can leak badly even when the system is shut down.

We recommend installing Rain Bird SAM (Seal a Matic) type heads and rotors to eliminate low head drainage.

See the video below for more:



Incorrect nozzle type selection:

It is true that some installation contractors will run out of components part way through a job, this sometimes will allow for the use of “whatever works” strategy, just to finish the job and get paid.


However, each area, whether it be a wide open space or more confined, requires it properly selected nozzle type to be installed in its selected rotor / spray head.


See the below video for information on nozzles.