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I am redoing my landscaping and I am a little bit confused about what to do about my existing irrigation system. A couple of things that are going is that I collected multiple quotes from multiple companies and most of them had a quote and most of them had an itemized entry for irrigation.

I do have a functional irrigation system in the front yard and I do not have any trees in the backyard but I do see that there are sprinkler heads. Which I assume maybe working if we do some testing.

Now, the person I am working with right now says that he will test it, and if it working then he doesn't think that we need to redo the irrigation system. Which sounds good because I save money in that case. However, what I am thinking that "Is it worth it to re-do the irrigation system anyways?" This is because, if I consider the overall cost of the project then within that the irrigation cost is less than 5%. And this property is 20 years old. Would it be worth it to just have him re-do the irrigation system anyways?

  1. Also, I am in California, USA and I am not even sure if the irrigation code has changed since and I need an upgrade anyways.

Any suggestions?

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  • Surely much cheaper and faster to fix existing system. The sprinkler heads will probably have to be replaced. Try to see the condition of the valves in a box underground somewhere. Commented May 27, 2021 at 10:27

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We could look at this issue through a number of lenses: legal, technical, cost, emergency

On the legal stuff, we know that California is generally a borderline desert state and may well have special regulations regarding irrigation. For this you need local expertise. Enough said. Since your system has been in for 20 years you may just enjoy some grandfathering privileges that might be affected if you re-install.

On the technical, irrigation systems can be problematic, and technology marches on rapidly so there may be parts of the system that could be upgraded to function with less waste, controllers in particular. Before you can proceed you need knowledge of the existing setup; there may be plans on file from the original install if completed by a reputable company still in business. For example are there any leaks to be concerned about (visible during drought conditions), plastic or metal conduction lines, if plastic are lines double clamped, parts still available if repairs needed. Suggestions made without first doing a careful examination of the existing setup including a test excavation should probably but put at the bottom of the pile.

Make sure you have a plan showing existing lines overlaid with utility provisions - water, electricity, gas, sewer, solar. In particular you need to know where old lines run close to large trees, since if any work is needed to repair a line you need to be able to estimate the damage to root systems. It might be of long term benefit to isolate but leave in-ground some lines and replace with a more maintainable section.

Cost does not seem to be a problem, so this brings us to emergency. Your state is known for fire issues, and tinder dry conditions can assist fire in approaching buildings. Clear space around house and garage with moist conditions in the soil and vegetation can hinder the approach of fire, so get some advice on emergency situations.

Re-doing an irrigation system is a major operation. The technology exists to cut very narrow trenches to lay lines, but soil will sink slowly back into place so marks may appear in the landscape which will be helpful if you need to re-dig but otherwise are unsightly. Plan on an extended period of post-installation maintenance to ensure the job is done right.

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