How to Fix & Replace a Broken Lawn Sprinkler Head with Simple Steps

Written by Ivy

Dec 15 2022

How to Fix & Replace a Broken Lawn Sprinkler Head with Simple Steps

If you have an automatic sprinkler system in your yard, chances are you have experienced a broken sprinkler head before. There are many different reasons why sprinkler heads break, but the most frequent one is when a lawnmower runs over one that is sticking out too far from the ground. Anybody can pretty much fix it because it's so simple. Read on to learn how to replace a sprinkler head.

How Do You Know If Your Sprinkler Head is Broken?

Even though some symptoms are more obvious than others, you might not be certain that repairs are necessary. You should get a new sprinkler head if your old one is completely broken off (see the result in the image to the right), the nozzle isn't covering the desired area properly, your sprinklers don't pop up when they turn on, or any of these things happen.

How to Buy Replacement Sprinkler Heads

It's not necessary to use a sprinkler head from the same manufacturer as the damaged one. It must, however, be of the same type: pop-up (stationary, rotor- or gear-driven rotor), or impact. The new head must also match the old head's delivery rate in inches per hour (iph) or gallons per minute (gpm). Additionally, the throw distance and spray pattern must be compatible. If you install the incorrect head, your lawn or garden may be overwatered or drowned, and other heads in the same zone may perform less well as a result. So, before you purchase a replacement, you'll need all the specifications from the damaged head.

You can find this information on the nozzle, the top of the head (if it's still there), or on a label attached to the head's body (see "Remove the Broken Head"). Find the brand and part number if you can't locate the specifications. Search the manufacturer's website for the specifications after that. If you are unable to find the specifications and part number, take the old head to an irrigation service provider and request a replacement head that matches.

Visit a home improvement store or order one online (Sprinkler Warehouse is one option). The replacement head will probably come with a variety of snap-in nozzles, allowing you to customize the delivery rate, spray pattern, and throw rate of the head to meet your needs.

How to Fix a Broken Lawn Sprinkler Head

Finding the Right Sprinkler Head

You must take the necessary actions to fix your sprinkler head once you have determined that it is malfunctioning. Finding the appropriate sprinkler head to connect to your system is a prerequisite before you can even start the installation process. You can determine this by consulting your previous head, your previous parts list, or by consulting a specialist. The installation procedure can be started after you locate the necessary part. Remember that not all of the components of your sprinkler system need to match perfectly. As long as you go with trusted manufacturers, it doesn't matter if you mix and match Rain Bird and Toro, they can all work in conjunction and are built to deliver quality results for a long time. Only times and sensors (anything electronic) need to be taken into consideration when it comes to compatibility.

Fixing Broken Sprinkler Heads

One of the simplest sprinkler repairs is to install a new sprinkler head. If you do it yourself, it won't take much of your time and won't cost much. You must first complete the following.

  • Turn Off Water System - It is crucial to ensure that your water system is properly turned off before starting your installation. Water will spray everywhere if you don't turn off your water before the installation process.
  • Dig Hole Around Broken Part - It's time to dig up the issue after you have turned off your water supply. Dig a hole (typically 1' deep and 6" in diameter) around your head using a shovel. When you are finished with your repair, move your sod safely out of the way so that you can replace it.
  • Dig Down to Riser - You will know when you have reached the riser and can stop digging. To avoid damaging your system while digging, exercise extreme caution. The vertical pipe that splits off from the mainline is known as a riser. You can stop digging when you come to that pipe.
  • Remove Old Sprinkler Head - It is very simple to do this. Turning the sprinkler head counterclockwise will allow you to remove the old sprinkler head. In many instances, you might need to take out a wrench or a pair of pliers to aid in removing the head.
  • Attach the New Sprinkler Head - Then, turn the riser clockwise with your new sprinkler head in place. Make sure the installation is done properly and that it is sufficiently tight.
  • Check System Before Filling Hole - This action is crucially significant. Before beginning the cleanup, make sure the spraying is as desired. If your sprinkler system is still having issues, this will prevent you from digging it up again.

How to Adjust Spray Pattern and Distance

Problem: There is excessive water spraying onto the driveway, your house, or the sidewalks, or not enough water is covering the grass.

Solution: On the sprinkler's top, alter the spray pattern.

Tools needed: Small flat blade screwdriver

  1. Adjust the spray direction by twisting the stem.
  2. Turn the sprinkler (if it has variable arc nozzles) to change the pattern.
  3. Adjust the distance by turning +/-.
Also Read:  How To Adjust Sprinkler Head
19. How to Fix & Replace a Broken Lawn Sprinkler Head2

How to Replace Water-wasting Spray Nozzles


  • Nozzles are broken or noticeably leaking around the head
  • Sprinkler is overwatering
  • Sprinkler isn't covering the desired area
  • You wish to convert to water-saving nozzles

Solution: Replace or upgrade nozzles

Tools needed: Pull-Up Tool (recommended)

  1. Using the Rain Bird tool or your hands, raise the sprinkler stem.
  2. Old nozzle and filter screen should be removed.
  3. New nozzle with the appropriate pattern and throw distance should be screwed on after inserting new filter screen. When compared to standard spray nozzles, the Rain Bird RVAN rotary nozzle could save up to 30% of water.
  4. Follow the instructions on the nozzle package to activate the sprinkler zone and modify the spray direction and pattern.

Who's Responsible for Sprinkler Head Damage?

Are you liable for the cost of fixing your sprinkler heads if a lawn service damages them? Usually, there isn't a contract outlining specifics like this when a homeowner hires a lawn service. However, if a reputable lawn service feels that it was at fault for the damage, they frequently agree to pay for it.

Inform the landscaping or lawn care company you hire that you have a sprinkler system and where the sprinklers are located.

How Your Sprinkler System Works

It might be beneficial to know how your sprinkler irrigation system operates. Most systems consist of the following:

  • A water supply pipe that's connected to the main water source.
  • A ground-level valve box that's divided into different underground irrigation zones.
  • Zone valves that control individual irrigation zones.
  • An electronic controller to manage the time/duration of the watering sessions.

Your yard is divided into irrigation zones. The front yard of a house, for instance, might have several zones for flowerbeds and grass, and the backyard and side yard might also have more zones.

When a zone valve is open, water flows through the underground pipes and into the irrigation heads in that zone until the electronic controller turns it off.

The most common problems people run into with their sprinkler system are:

  • Not turning on sprinkler zones
  • Leaky zone valves.
  • water pressure issues with the sprinkler heads.
  • Sprinkler heads on their own are inoperative.

Final Words

You can see how simple it is to fix sprinkler heads now that you know how. Please leave us a comment if you encounter any problems so we can offer our assistance. Although it's not always simple, replacing a sprinkler head is typically a simple task. Don't let your yard's sprinkler heads go another day without functioning if you are experiencing issues with them. Discover what your yard can look like once they are fixed and learn how to properly install sprinkler heads.


Do I Need a Special Tool to Adjust My Sprinkler Heads?

With a flathead screwdriver, sprinkler heads can typically be adjusted. Specialized rotor heads and adjustment tools are exempt from the rule. Look at your sprinkler head instructions.

What Causes Sprinkler Heads to Break?

The most frequent culprits for damage are lawnmowers, aerators, cars, and mechanical problems. Installing your sprinkler heads at the proper height will lessen the risk. You should winterize your sprinkler system to help reduce the likelihood of damage during severe weather.

What is the Best Way to Identify Broken Sprinkler Heads

You'll notice cracked off nozzles or damaged plastic nozzle casings around the sprinkler head. Wild streams of water or no water at all are additional warning signs.