Most Frequent Sprinkler System Code Violations
This varies from job to job but here are some of the most common; failure to have a license and insurance, failure to call in line locates before digging, throwing water across driveways, walkways or sidewalks, failure to install a backflow, failure to have that backflow inspected, failing to install a rain sensor, failure to provide a warranty, failure to provide an as-built drawing of the system once it is installed, failure to provide a year-round watering schedule and failure to pull permits.
Do you want to pay for a contractor that cuts corners? In the following image, a sprinkler head throws across the sidewalk creating a hazard that you are liable for as the home owner.
The average home owner probably doesn’t know what most of these violations mean, what the code is for or how to tell when these things are done properly and when they are neglected. This makes it easier for the kinds of contractors we are talking about to take advantage. You might find yourself wondering why throwing the water across the sidewalk is such a big deal. Well, when someone slips on the wet concrete and your system is throwing across that concrete structure to water something on the other side of it, you are liable for this accident.
Most consumers don’t know what a backflow device is, let alone what it is for, and so these kinds of failures usually go unnoticed until there is a problem. A backflow device protects your family’s drinking water from harmful chemicals and is a very serious matter. You see, when the sprinkler system is finished watering and the heads go back down into the ground, they create a vacuum-like suction. This suction pulls in things like fertilizers, pesticides and animal urine or droppings that are commonly found on your lawn. Once in the pipeline, if your home is not protected by a backflow device, then your family could be at risk.
What Is the Difference Between Poor Workmanship and a Quality Job?
Because an irrigation system is below the ground and out of sight, it is easy for poor work to remain hidden until you have to break the bank for repairs or upgrades. Many contractors will sell you on one price and then try to hit you with “add-ons” or “upgrades” later on down the road.
Another common problem is that the guy with the license is not on the job site and does not know what is going into the ground. A poor job can tear up your landscape leaving a muddy mess behind. Often times, sub-standard products are used from places like Home Depot that are just not built to last. Backflow devices are often installed in a manner that will invite costly freeze damage in the winter. This has become so rampant in the state of Texas that HB2507 was signed into law making it a criminal offense to operate without a license. This law is aimed at protecting homeowners just like you from the kinds of blatant violations that are described here.
A good contractor takes pride in his work and it will show from the moment you meet him. Irrigation installation and backflow installation or repair is not a good do-it-yourself project. Understanding pressure loss, elevation change, flow, how to keep water from moving in excess of five feet per second, evapotranspiration and run-time calculations are not common knowledge and requires not only extensive training and licensing but years of experience as well.
Follow this advice and tips.
- Make sure they are licensed (code).
- Find out what the warranty is up front (code).
- Make sure that permits are being pulled if you live within a city (code).
- Ask to see the design before installation begins.
- Ensure a backflow device is installed, inspected and insulated (code).
- Ensure a cut-off valve is installed and know the location of it (code).
- Make sure that your grass and beds are watered by separate zones.
- Make sure a rain sensor is installed (code).
- Make sure you understand how to use the controller and have the owner’s manual (code).
- Make sure there is a back-up battery installed in the controller so that you do not lose your settings.
- Get a detailed watering schedule outlining the watering times for every zone for all seasons (code).
- Ensure that you are not throwing water across a sidewalk or walkway (code).
- Get an as-built drawing showing you where the heads, pipe and valves are all located (code).
Would you believe that most home owners I talk to in the field that have an existing system are missing at least half of the things on this list? A great many of them are missing all of the items outlined here. By checking on all of these things before you make final payment to the contractor you will be a lot more sure that you are getting a quality system that is up to code and will not cost an arm and a leg in terms of water consumption and maintenance or repairs.
So remember when you shop for sprinkler installation in Houston that these things are not preferential, they are the law and are there to set a standard of quality and performance for you, the consumer.
Contact us today for more information about the legal requirements of your irrigation system.