Can Sprinkler Valves Be Submerged in Water?


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If you have ever taken care of a lawn, it is good to know what sprinkler valves are meant for and how to use them properly. A common question is if sprinkler valves can be submerged.

Sprinkler valves can be fully submerged in water. However, the valve should not be kept permanently in water, as the screws will rust faster. You should also make sure the electrical wires have waterproof insulation and that the valve will not freeze. 

There are a lot of unknowns when entering the world of lawn care, especially when it comes to irrigation systems. This article I will explain how sprinkler valves work and if a sprinkler valve can be submerged. I will also describe a few reasons why that is happening. Let’s dive into how a sprinkler valve works. 

How Do Sprinkler Valves Work? 

Before we explore if it is safe for a sprinkler valve to be submerged, it is essential to know how they work first. A good understanding of how sprinkler valves work can help with the operation of them and prevent further damage to your sprinkler valves. Since they do have electrical components to them, understanding the different components is very important as well, especially for safety reasons. 

At first glance, a sprinkler valve just looks like a small, complex pipe. It’s hard to tell how it works by just looking at it, but it can be simple when you break it down into a few easy steps:

  • The water from the main water system flows into the diaphragm and puts pressure on it. 
  • The diaphragm has a small hole that allows the water to flow to the upper chamber. The upper chamber is the space between the bonnet and the diaphragm. 
  • From the upper chamber, the water flows through the bonnet and to the solenoid. 
  • The solenoid has a metal loaded piston that covers the hole when the valve is closed, which stops the water from escaping. 
  • Finally, the valve will not open until the water in the upper chamber has released since the surface area in the upper chamber is larger than the bottom of the diaphragm. 

Now that we know precisely how water moves through a sprinkler valve, let’s look at whether the valve can be submerged or not. 

Things to Remember When Your Valves Are Submerged

It seems ironic to ask if a sprinkler valve can be submerged since it’s the sprinkler’s job to spread water to the lawn. There is a difference though between being fully immersed in water and just being a bit damp. Let’s look at a few things to remember when it comes to sprinkler valves and water. 

The Valve Should Not Be Permanently Submerged

A sprinkler valve is meant to get wet. Its main job is to water plants and lawns, so of course, it is bound to get wet. While it is okay for the valve to be immersed in water, this should not be a permanent occurrence. Valves can go a long time in the water, but eventually, it could lead to some issues which we will discuss further. 

Make Sure It Doesn’t Freeze

If your valve is submerged, you have to be sure that it won’t freeze. Depending on where you live and the climate, this can be a big issue, or it could be a rarity. Whatever the case, it is vital to keep that in mind. The two months that you will have to watch for frosting are May and September. You will not usually see frost overnight in the months between those two. 

If your valve does freeze, there are a few things you can do. If you have an above-ground system, take the frozen valve and bring it inside to thaw. If you have an inground system, you might still be able to drain it since the dirt below ground level might not be frozen like the ground above it is. If the water doesn’t drain, you can pour some de-icer in the lines. 

Make Sure the Wire Connections Are Sealed and Waterproof

A sprinkler valve is part of a bigger irrigation system. That system needs electricity to run. Sprinkler valves have electrical wires attached to them, and we all know that electricity and water do not mix. 

Even if your valve is not going to be fully submerged, this tip applies to everyone with sprinkler valves since they all get wet. Make sure that the wire connections are sealed with a waterproof insulation cord. 

If you are not sure where to start when waterproofing your wire connections, check out this video below. It describes in detail how to create a waterproof splice for your irrigation system:

Watch Out for Rusting

Usually, sprinkler valves have screws on them, which could possibly lead to issues with rusting. The screws can last a long time if they are not constantly immersed in water, but if your valve spends a lot of the time in the water, that is something that could eventually affect the valve. Rusting can subsequently lead to your screws deteriorating, which can then make the valve weaker. 

If you invest in an irrigation system, check out the Orbit 57623 valve from Amazon. This above-ground valve is affordable and well-rated. 

Why Is the Valve Submerged?

Even though it is okay for the valve to be full of water, there could be a few reasons why it is submerged that you might have to fix to prevent damage. Let’s look at a few. 

You Could Be Over-Watering Your Lawn

One reason why your valve is submerged is that you are overwatering your lawn. It could depend on your climate, but most lawns need about one inch of water every week. You can either apply one inch of water on one day of the week or divide it into multiple days. If your valve is fully immersed, make sure to monitor how much water you are applying to your lawn. 

If you start up your irrigation system, you can check the dirt every 15 minutes to see how deep the water has soaked through. When it has reached six inches, that’s when you know you have watered enough. If you take note of the time, you will have a concrete time limit of how long you should water your lawn in the future. 

The Valve Could Be Leaking

The other, possibly more serious reason that your valve is submerged is that it could be leaking. There are a few ways to investigate this. Obviously, the first sign is that your valve is fully submerged. You can also check your irrigation controller to make sure the programming has not changed for some reason and is releasing more water than it should. 

If you have valve boxes, check and make sure they are dry and not flooded. Furthermore, check for missing spray heads, abnormally large puddles in the grass, or water spurting from the nozzle (this could indicate a cracked seal). 

Conclusion

Millions of people use irrigation systems, but sometimes certain questions arise as you install them, like if they can be submerged. Sprinkler valves can be fully submerged, but there are a few things to remember if they are. 

First of all, they should not be permanently fully submerged – it is okay for short periods of time. Two other things to remember is to make sure the electrical cords are insulated and waterproof and to monitor the temperature, so the valve does not freeze. If your valve is immersed in water, make sure it is not leaking and that you are not overwatering the lawn.

Lars

I am always happy to share all my knowledge about how to keep your garden in good condition and make it special.

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