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I have an automatic water sprinkling system in my lawn. After it runs, some of the heads are still stuck in the up position. I will attach some photos. What can I do to ensure these heads go down because I have a very careless lawn maintenance service and they will definitely sever the heads during mowing. I cannot manually monitor this on a daily basis.

I pushed each of the three heads still stuck up after watering down into the ground. One snapped right down, a second needed a slow push and little bits of water sprayed out as it went down. The third seemed to scrape its way down as though there was some dirt caught.

What can I do to get these to go down without my intervention?

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This usually comes after years of use where there is grit in the water. The plastic sliding surfaces get abraded and start to stick. Usually the result is that you have to replace the sprinkler as the tube and piston are both pretty well shot.

You might try unscrewing that black cap, the insides come out and with removing the spray head at the top, you can completely disassemble all the sliding parts. Flush the cup underneath the cap out to remove sediment and touch up all the sliding surfaces with paste wax after completely cleaning them.

Which brings up mineral fouling, if your water has mineral content, soak everything in white vinegar to help the crusts disappear and clean out the filters.

If the wax doesn't add some plasticy glidiness back after reassembly, then replacement is the only option left.

Often irrigation supplies have the filters and nozzels available by the box load, optionally, the internals. Usually, you end up buying the whole shebang, if you stick with only one brand and don't have to deal with freezing, unscrew the top, leave the cup in the ground and replace just the working parts. Acceptable for DIY, professionals don't have time to waste on this and just replace them.

Down on the ranch, we called it Irritation and it involved moving tarp sticks in ditches and 20' RainBird pipes. At least it didn't have the added misery of suburban irrigation that can be totally halted by fine sediment. Oh, the misery of Drip!

Note: this appears to be a simple spray assembly, if you have rotators, the water motor and other parts are usually getting near life's end when this starts happening so attempting the wax job just postpones the inevitable.

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  • Nice answer. Just wanted to add.. be careful when unscrewing the top to avoid getting dirt in the sprinkler body. Not that big a problem with the one in the picture since it's in rocks but others may be in dirt. – OrganicLawnDIY Mar 2 '14 at 23:44
  • Yes, there's an excellent small shovel that seems almost made for sprinkler heads. It's about 5" wide and curved to do a good sod cut around Hunter style sprinklers. Get the dirt below the body. I've cut donuts, dropped them back in place and you soon can't tell you had to dig the head out. – Fiasco Labs Mar 3 '14 at 2:07
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Don't waste your time trying to repair the spray head....spend the $2 to $10 and replace it. If you end up with a broken head, instead of just a stuck in the up position, because a broken head can easily lead to a busted nipple, pipe and increased water bill in the hundreds of dollars.

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In my instance, there were roots pushing against the outside of the sprinkler body, which were deforming the outside body enough to make the head stick up. The tree was about 10' away. This may be worth looking into if you have a tree nearby.

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