My Sprinkler Head Won’t Pop Up, What Should I Do?

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My Sprinkler Head Won’t Pop Up What Should I Do

A lawn is a beautiful thing, and one that waters itself even more so. One or more of your sprinkler heads not coming up can cause a headache. Before we jump into how to resolve this let’s first learn a little bit of what these pieces are made up of and how they work. According to a national resource for sprinkler repair, many sprinkler issues can be fixed yourself once you know what to look for.

Parts of a Sprinkler Head

The top portion, where the sprinkler head comes out, is composed of multiple pieces called the nozzle, riser, and radius adjustment screw. Below the ground, there is the soil level, cap, body, inlet, and wiper seal.

The radius adjustment screw on the top manipulates how far the water comes out in spurts. Just below this, there is the nozzle, which is where the water comes out. Finally, there is the riser which pushes out from underground.

Underground, you have a few more pieces. The wiper seal keeps the water from being expelled from between the cap and the riser. The cap is their part of the sprinkler you see in the ground from above, while the majority of the body sits in the ground. The inlet is where the water is fed.

What Are Some Reasons Why a Sprinkler Head Won’t Come Up?

Your sprinkler head not coming out of the ground can have many causes. Sprinkler heads that are really dirty can fail, your water pressure may simply be too low, there can be leaks in the water line, or the head itself can be simply broken.

All sorts of muck, dirt, and debris can get caught up in the sprinkler, making it one of the most common causes of sprinkler issues. To fix this problem, simply take some time to clean the sprinkler head from time to time, making sure to get both the head and the plastic screen basket it is in.

Low water pressure can be a problem for multiple reasons. Sprinkler heads require a set amount of pressure to activate and be pushed up. Check your valves to make sure they are completely broken. If they are already and they’re still not rising you could have a leak.

The sprinkler leak can either be in the line or the head itself. Oftentimes the wiper seal is malfunctioning and spraying just a little bit of water out of the head. Regardless of the source, a leak can lower water pressure which, as we know, stops the head from rising out of the ground.

What If My Head Is Just Broken?

A broken sprinkler head is probably the most common reason it won’t come up. To identify if a sprinkler head is broken, merely look to see if there is any broken plastic pieces, cracked casing, or any other identifying markers that it has been mangled.

Before you replace your sprinkler, you should first understand that sprinkler heads are roughly divided up into a few different variants. The pop-up size can vary, with low models going two inches, moderate models four to six inches, and jumbo ones going as high as 20 inches.

If you have low-growing grass, than two inches will work fine. If you have a type that grows higher, like St. Augustine, than I would go as high as six inches. If you need to get to a lot of shrubberies and other plants than anything over this will be your best bet.

Other than the line and the heads, you should think about investing in a new pump, a splitter to take the water to different places, and some donut protectors to go around the rim of the sprinkler head to protect it from lawnmowers.

What Sprinkler Head Options Are Available?

Rotor sprinklers are what most people think of when they think of a sprinkler system and are the bane of unfortunate runners all over the country. These type of spray heads shoot a stream of water that oscillates back and forth.

Spray sprinklers can actually be more effective for smaller areas, as these fire a steady circle of water. The main disadvantage is that they can’t really go the distance because the water pressure is divided over a 360-degree area.


A sprinkler head not popping up can have many causes. Before you replace the sprinkler heads, try to clean them out, check the pressure, and make sure there are no leaks. If you do have to invest in a new set of heads, make sure you know the different types available.

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