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Double check assembly handle replacement.

All irrigation systems in Texas need a backflow device installed at the beginning of the system, usually near the water source, like a water meter. A majority of the systems have a double check assembly (DCA). Some have a reduced pressure principle device (RPZ) or a pressure vacuum breaker (PVB, SVB), but this depends on the municipality, geographical location in the state, and whether the system is considered a high hazard or not.

If you have a double check assembly installed, it is likely in a green rectangle box and in the ground. It tends to get buried over time which makes the handles unusable unless the box is cleaned out around the device. It is also likely the handles will be rusted, corroded, or completely gone.

These handles are critical in isolating the irrigation water from the house water. They are also critical in turning off the mainline due to an irrigation mainline leak that is gushing non-stop or when servicing a control valve.

I would suggest checking your handle status at least once a year. Clean around them as needed. If it turns out the handles can’t be used due to their condition, they should be replaced. You could, of course, replace the whole device, but that can be expensive. And if the device isn’t up to current state code, it will need to be brought up to code with all the required permits, inspections, and backflow testing.

I offer a handle replacement service that is not expensive compared to a full device replacement. I carry the tools and supplies needed to replace both handles on the spot. It usually takes less than two hours and includes box clean up around the device, handle removals, handle installations, and handle testing to make sure the valves isolate the main line properly.

Contact me here to make an appointment.

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Irrigation Advisory Council voted: Irrigation Systems are Health Hazard

I’ve just received my new 2017 TXIA Newsletter, Volume 42, Number 1. Some interesting news has been revealed on page 12. The IAC (Minutes, VII. a)), after much discussion, “motioned and passed through majority vote to make the recommendation to the Commission to classify landscape irrigation systems as health hazard (Ch344.1 (14).” It’s been talked about for years. I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long. The TCEQ already classifies irrigation as non-potable (Ch344.62 (n). This vote, if implemented by TCEQ, would mean that all new irrigation systems would get a reduced pressure principle (RPZ) device installed somewhere on the property. And it would have to be tested every year per Chapter 344.50 (c). Yes, there are backflow options in a health hazard scenario: an air gap, RPZ, pressure vacuum breaker, or atmospheric vacuum breaker. My bet is on the RPZ.

Right now, most irrigation systems have double check assemblies installed as the backflow device. Most of them were actually tested on the installation and they have never been tested again. My wild guess would be that half of them may not re-pass a backflow test if they are ten years or older, if they are even testable. Good luck finding them, too. A lot of them are covered with soil and grass. Or if you did find the box, the device would be covered with dirt, have no handles to use for testing, and clogged test cocks.

What’s really going to be interesting to watch is the new home builder installers response. They already get fussy when a city wants to add a rule that may cost them a few bucks on a job. This change, if fully implemented, will cost everyone a lot more money.  The rise in cost, in my opinion, is worth it. It’s just going to be a hard sell at first. Although, if we as irrigators look at all that is required for any kind of backflow device, it’s just the potential (Ch344.75) for a health hazard. As long as the facts and rules behind the move are fully visualized, it will become the standard practice. As it should have been all along.

If anyone wants more research on backflow they can also read through 290.44(h) Backflow, siphonage of the Rules and Regulations of the Public Water Systems.

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Irrigation Smart Controllers

Over the past year I’ve learned a lot about smart controllers. The technology to make watering your lawn easier, give you more control, and help save water along the way, is moving at a fast pace. The competition is tight between some manufacturers. But of course there is always one that stands out from the pack. Some are just late to the ball game. One thing is for sure, smart controllers will control and shape the way we water our lawns from here into the future.

I’ve been working with quite a few different smart controllers and their apps weekly for the past year. I’ve help set them up for many customers and helped them get registered with the City of Frisco. If you live in Frisco, and you’re planning on getting a smart controller, reach out to me. I’d be happy to help guide you to the best device to suit your needs.

Most homeowners who get these smart controllers are installing them themselves. But if you don’t want to do that I can help with that. I can also help with the initial set up and scheduling. If you live in Frisco, I highly recommend registering your smart controller and getting the Water Wise sign in your yard too.

Frisco’s Water Wise program is on the cutting edge of this smart controller market. The Water Wise team there has some of the most educated, knowledgeable, and licensed irrigators in their field. It’s to the Frisco water customers advantage to use the team’s abilities to help in water conservation.

I look forward to serving you.

 

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LED Landscape Lighting and socket issues.

Well, it seems the future is here as far as LED lighting is concerned. You can find those LED bulbs almost anywhere. You can replace household incandescent or CFL bulbs with these LEDs and save money in the long run. I’ve recently replaced my long tube fluorescents in my garage and kitchen with LED tubes. I had to learn the specific modifications needed to make them work correctly. But that was just a small learning curve. The new challenge was fun and rewarding.

I’m here to talk about LED landscape lighting though. There is a lot of LED landscape lighting on the market at all the home stores and online. I’m a fan of the LED bulbs in general, but not in all applications. Especially LED landscape lighting bulbs as a retro-fit option or even on a new installation.

Most of the problems I’ve seen with landscape lighting fixtures is the socket. Over time, the socket’s tension springiness lose the ability to squeeze onto the bulb pins. This can prevent complete contact for the bulb circuit. The socket is also out in the elements indirectly or directly. Even though most fixtures may look weather tight  with O-rings and rubber seals, they will still get moisture in them.

These fixtures are installed on a stake in the soil. The fixture stems are at least soil level or lower. Because of that, the moisture I’ve seen comes in where the wire enters the stem. The moisture is from rain or sprinkler water. Ants will also build around and in the fixtures sometimes, bringing in more moisture.

My point for all of this brings me to a landscape lighting fixture that is solid state. Meaning, no sockets and a completely sealed enclosure with the LED components built into the fixture. There are a few brands out there that do this. This makes the fixture virtually maintenance free. But the point where the wire comes into the stem is still a possible entry point for moisture. Although, I haven’t had issues with this yet.

So, nothing is completely weather tight, but by choosing a fixture without sockets, you will reduce the amount of moisture damage and socket maintenance in the future. This will reduce purchasing new bulbs, bi-annual or annually, due to burned out, broken, or fading illumination. And buying new bulbs that are out because of bad sockets.

No matter who you decide to use to install or retro-fit your LED landscape lighting, please consider using a solid state fixture to eliminate some headaches in future lighting repairs.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

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LED conversions for house lighting.

I’ve been installing low voltage LED landscape lighting for the past four years. It’s the only way to go now days. It’s more efficient and virtually maintenance free. There are no light bulbs to worry about any more. The fixtures are more expensive, but the payoff comes by saving electricity, no bulb purchases, and calls to service companies like myself to replace bulbs. The lighting effect is great too because it remains consistent across a broader voltage range. And the lighting output also remains consistent. Unlike incandescent bulbs that lose their brightness over time, LED’s do not.

I also get calls about four or five times a year for flood lighting repair on houses. The fixtures are usually installed when the house is built. They’re usually installed on the front of houses under windows or just randomly spaced along the front. The bulbs use a lot of electricity and the fixture themselves are basically funnels for bugs, water, and whatever else falls in/around the bulb. The fixtures usually corrode and break off the wall.

When these fixtures go bad, I’d recommend replacing them with LED’s. As stated above there are benefits to LED lighting. I’ve got a friend who’s an electrician that can install these.

Here are a before and after picture of the lighting:

WP_20140801WP_20140801 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Foundation watering.

I’ve got lots of customers asking me about foundation watering. I’ve done some research with peers installing drip systems around houses, conferring with foundation companies, and my experience.

I’m not a foundation expert or engineer. So, any opinion I have is mine and I ‘m happy to share it. If you have questions about your foundation I suggest calling a foundation company and maybe getting an evaluation. Some foundation companies do that for free. I recommend getting all the information you need before investing in any irrigation system, including a perimeter drip system. Keep in mind, as licensed irrigators we do not specialize in foundations although we get lots of questions in that regard. I have a foundation maintenance bulletin you can download from my links page. It’s got some helpful information on there.

There are lots of variables to consider before investing in a perimeter drip system: Existing soil level around house, soil type, plants/trees around the house, slope to/from the house, water rate from source, percolation rate in soil, existing water rate from sprinkler system, and daily weather conditions.

I think the most important conclusion I’ve come to from the questions I’ve asked is, no matter how balanced your moisture is around your house, your foundation can still shift. So, would a perimeter watering system help/save your foundation, maybe. Would it give you peace of mind, yes. If that is worth the investment, then have a watering system installed around your house.

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Happy Independence Day!!

 

July 4th pic
Have a great day! Celebrate, but remember who we are as a country and how far we’ve come. God bless!

 

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The Beginning

Earth

7/03/2014

My purpose for creating a blog is to keep my customers updated on the latest drought and water restriction news. Along with products I’d recommend or use to help conserve resources. I also want to share and help fellow peers in my industry become more proficient licensed irrigators. 

I am linking water restriction guidelines from surrounding cities. It’s good to keep up to date. Follow your watering guidelines from your city. Be sure to find the map and select your watering day. New information posted on my links page.

Be sure to get the most out of your water day. Make sure your landscape/grass is trimmed to help with sprinkler coverage. I also wouldn’t recommend planting any new plants at this time. But if you do, please hand water them until they are established, then as needed. Sprinklers are for supplemental water after plants are established.

If your city has a sprinkler check up program, take advantage of that service. City of Frisco does have a check up program for it’s citizens. I highly recommend it. If your city doesn’t have one, I encourage you to petition the city to implement such a program.