Our automatic sprinklers were put in about 11 years ago.  After a few years we noticed that the system was cycling twice on the ‘on’ days.  We set and reset and reset the darn controller and experimented with various settings to no avail.

So we turned it off.

Now we manually turn on the valves and usually forget to do it, resulting in droopy, brownish plants – matching my thumb.

Up to now, I’ve been watering the back “yard” by hand.  I put the word in quotes because its mostly parking lot, since we live above our office.  But we have a 3’ strip all the way around it with roses and palm trees and roses and jasmine and roses and day lilies and roses.  I enjoy watering by hand, for the most part.  It’s nice being outside and the roses are gorgeous (except in February after they’ve been pruned to within an inch of their lives).

But I had a lot to do last Sunday and I’d been outdoors all day Saturday at a yard sale fundraiser and was feeling a little withered, so I turned on a valve and set the timer for 30 minutes – hey, it was in the 90s the day before so the plants needed extra refreshment.

The valves are set in a plastic porch-bench-storage thing we put there to protect them from people knocking into them.  We couldn’t figure out why the valves kept getting broken, turned out the waste collection guy was pulling the bins over them in the early morning darkness…

30 minutes later I turn off that valve and turn on another one and it frickin’ pops off in my hand!

Cr*p, did I break it?  Cr*pcr*pcr*p (although a different word might have slipped out at the time).

I cover the spray of water with my hand and look at the valve.  Thank heaven, I just unscrewed it too far, unscrewed it right off.

Trying to screw that darn thing back on proved absolutely impossible!  Picture me squatting next to the valves (actually, don’t), head drenched, holding the water and wires out of the way and trying to screw the head back on.  No, No, NO!  Total frustration!  Who designed these stupid things!!!

I have no idea how to get the water to turn off so I stomp away from the blankety-blank valves and try to think.  Yikes, the water spout is about 20 feet high!  I stomp back to the valves and slam the plastic bench cover down over it.  There!  That’ll teach it.

Not quite like this...but close!

Not quite like this…but close!

Phooey, I can’t leave it like that and I’ve very peeved that I can’t do this by myself.  I hate having to call for help.

However, no other inspiration comes to me so I call Rick (who is working on his sailboat up in a drydock in Napa (http://MyBudgetYacht.wordpress.com) …how do I shut off the blasted water so I can screw the valve head back on?  Oh, that’s right, there’s a shut-off valve hose bib at the front of the house.

 Now you can picture me kneeling in front of the hose bib, trying to push/pull the lever that hasn’t been touched in years!  I am determined that I can do this BY MYSELF!  I’ve turned into a 3 year-old.

I’m probably more careful than I need to be with the water valve but I really, really DON’T want to break off the pipe but it seems pretty flimsy as it rattles back and forth.

Success!  >whew<  Water is off and I head back to the sprinkler valve.  And, my, how easy that turned out to be.  Screwing on the valve handle is a no-brainer when you don’t have a hundred pounds of water pressure fighting you!

We really need to get a new controller and have some repair work done on the system.  The drip-line?  The drippy tips flipped off years ago and some of the little hoses flew off.  The drip-line hose itself has big holes in it and one of the sprinkler tops broke and the water burbles out instead of spraying.  Not only that but the sprinklers pop up out of the ground and do their thing, slowly but surely working their way off-center until they’re spraying into the street or the sidewalk.  Every few days we have to realign them!  Seriously, there has to be a better system than what we have (and there probably is but we were pretty cheap when we had it installed since we were doing the office renovation out-of-pocket and that’s probably the reason for the problems, right?)

 I guess I’ll have to call someone about fixing this.  I did talk to our mow-n-blow guy about it but sprinkler systems aren’t his specialty.  Well, in the famous and paraphrased words of Scarlett O’Hara “I’ll think about it tomorrow.”  Which is how deferred maintenance gets deferred 😉