It likely is not working properly! Just like your mower needs the sparkplug adjusted, oil changed, blade sharpened, and maybe a wheel or starter rope replaced, things will go wrong with your irrigation system. But since it operates while you are in bed, you don’t know what needs fixing. I had not operated my sprinkler system since October last year due to the rains, and before starting it up last week, I did a maintenance check. I have Program D on my controller programmed with no start time , 2 minutes on the first valve, and 1 minute on every other valve. I turn the dial to Program D and manually activate, then go around the yard with a pad and pencil and note all problems. Some newer controllers have a test function built in, very handy.
This is what I found in my yard:
- Valve 4 had a head that was grown over with grass, and could not rise up, so all water was just running over the curb (quick fix, just cut around with a serrated knife to sever the grass runners).
- Valve 7 had a head with a nozzle twisted 90 degrees (another quick and easy, grab the nozzle with Channelock pliers and twist it back so all water is going on the lawn, instead of half of it into the street).
- Valve 12 had a head with a nozzle plugged with a bit of trash, so the head would pop up but no water coming out. This was a much more technical fix, that is, bopping the popped nozzle on the head gently but persuasively with the afore mentioned Channelocks until the trash was ejected and a good flow resumed. If this fails, you will need to keep a hold of the head as the water flow is shut off, screw off the plugged nozzle, and clear it by blowing back through the orifice, or poking a thin wire or broom straw back through it.
I recommend performing this test once a month, to most efficiently utilize water and to avoid discovering sprinkler malfunctions by finding dead patches in your lawn. You should also seasonally adjust your controller from one day a week operation in summer to once every two weeks in fall, and then turn it off for winter, only activating manually every 3 or 4 weeks if there has been no rain, or immediately preceding a forecasted hard freeze event. Replace your program backup battery as needed. Otherwise at any power outage your program, including the current date and time, will be lost and you will need to reprogram. This video from Texas A&M on the Cycle Soak Method describes how to set your timer for best utilization of water, but recognize when he says 5 to 6 minutes run time, that is for spray nozzles, and you will need a longer run time for the valves that supply water to rotors or drip tube.