The Property & Facility Managers Guide To A 6-Point Irrigation Audit or Inspection

Michael Hatcher

Mar 5, 2020 8:38:38 AM

Your commercial irrigation system doesn’t just run magically on its own.

It needs a few tweaks now and then.

Valves leak. Heads get clogged or broken. Your controller sometimes gets out of whack. (That’s a technical term.)

All of that can waste water. Why pay for more than you need?

But you, a property manager, have a lot on your plate. 

You don’t have time to keep track of how much water is spraying — or not spraying — on your property. Not everybody thinks staring at sprinkler heads is as fascinating as we do.

Let us keep track of it all. 

A commercial irrigation inspection detects the small issues before they turn into big costly problems.

Liz Robison, irrigation service manager at Michael Hatcher & Associates, walks us through the steps of a commercial irrigation inspection.


1. Commercial Irrigation Inspection: It Starts with the Controller

Stop number one for Robison when she does a commercial irrigation inspection is your controller, the brains of your entire irrigation system.

lizShe checks all your run times to make sure your system isn’t watering your landscaping too much or too little.

Sometimes customers think they have a leak, because they’re using more water than they think they should be.

But it turns out their controller is set to turn on too many times.

“I make sure nothing on the controller is out of whack,” Robison says.


2. Commercial Irrigation Inspection: The Backflow

Stop number two: the backflow device. This allows water to go through your irrigation system in one direction but prevents it from going backwards in the opposite direction.

Sometimes the handle on your backflow valve gets inadvertently shut off. When it’s off, it restricts any water from flowing past the backflow and to your sprinkler system valves. 

It should be on. 


3. Commercial Irrigation Inspection: The Leak Test

Next up: Robison turns off the water to your system. Is it losing pressure, or staying steady? 

She checks the leak indicator. If it’s spinning, it means there’s a leak in the system that needs to be fixed.

4. Commercial Irrigation Inspection: The Zone Test

Up next: a two-minute test on each of your commercial irrigation system zones. 

As the water sprays, the technician looks for several things:

  • How much water is hitting the ground?
  • Are any heads leaking or broken?
  • Are any spots too wet or too dry?
  • Is water hitting only where it should, and not over spraying on pavement or hitting buildings?
  • How many minutes of watering does each zone really need? 
  • What size nozzles are installed in each zone? Maybe there’s a nozzle that sprays 15 feet, but it only needs to spray eight feet.
  • If a head or nozzle is clogged with debris, the technician will blow or flush it out to clear it.
  • Is there a need for commercial irrigation repair? 


5. Commercial Irrigation Inspection: The Detailed Notes

As your irrigation technician is observing all this, they’re taking careful notes, Robison says, either on paper or on an app on their smartphone.


“We jot everything down, so we can communicate it all to the account manager for the property, and to the client,” she says.


6. Commercial Irrigation Inspection: The Walk Through 

If you’re on site the day of the inspection, your irrigation technician will invite you to walk through your property with them, to point out exactly what they’re doing and explain any issues they discover.

Robison likes to review the controller with her customers, if they have time, so they know exactly how many minutes each zone should be running.

Not there? No worries. You’ll receive a detailed follow-up report after they leave.


Commercial Irrigation Inspection: What You Can Spot

There are some potential commercial irrigation repairs that an eagle-eyed property manager can easily spot.

What to look for:

  • Dry spots where water isn’t hitting. 
  • Wet spots that are getting too much water.
  • Irrigation heads that seem to be leaking.
  • An unexplained increase in your water bill.


Are You Wasting Water?

Chances are, yes.

Outdated sprayer heads, leaky valves, old controllers are all at fault, pumping out more water than your property needs or spraying it haphazardly where water isn’t even needed.


You don’t want to waste water — or money. But you don’t have time to constantly check your irrigation system for problems. You have more pressing issues every day. 

A commercial irrigation inspection will zero in on any water waste. Irrigation technicians will also spot the little issues that can lead to bigger problems later, from cracked lines and leaky valves to clogged nozzles or broken spray heads.


Time to Test Your Commercial Irrigation System? Trust Hatcher 

Not all commercial irrigation companies have a certified irrigation contractor on board to help you.

We do.

Robison is certified by the National Irrigation Association. She’s met an advanced level of competency to install, repair, and maintain irrigation systems.

So, you can relax, knowing you made the right choice to put your property’s health in expert hands.

Are you ready to put your mind at ease with a commercial irrigation inspection? 

Talk to one of our commercial landscaping experts today! We’ll meet at your property, create a custom plan, and get you on your way to enjoying a beautiful, worry-free property.

Michael Hatcher

Written by Michael Hatcher

Michael Hatcher is Founder and Chairman of Michael Hatcher & Associates.