Finding sprinkler heads and valves with a metal detector – the ultimate guide

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The sprinkler heads can stop working because they can be covered by grass or dirt. It can be also due to a bad valve.

You need to get them to pop up as quickly as possible before the lawn dies. Fixing the damage will cost a lot of money. Moreover, the yard won’t look good with all of this dead grass.

In order to do that, you need to find the overgrown sprinkler heads and valves. This is not an easy task if you don’t have the right tools.

In this article, I will show you how you can locate them using a metal detector. And this can be done without turning the water ON so that you don’t get wet.

Can metal detectors locate sprinkler heads and valves?

Metal detectors can find sprinklers heads and valves without a problem because they have some parts that are made out of metal.

Regardless of the brand, sprinkler heads have springs to move the riser; valves have screws, springs, and solenoids.

And since they buried a few inches underground (barely under the surface), the detector will find them easily.

Irrigation Sprinkler headSome sprinkler heads don’t have enough metal in them or they are buried too deep. In this case, the detector will not find them no matter how hard you try.

This means that locating valves with a detector isn’t always guaranteed.

To check if the sprinklers installed in your lawn are visible to a detector, test it on visible heads. If it can detect them, then it can detect the buried ones.

In the next paragraph, I will recommend a popular detector among detectorists. It is affordable and easy to use.

Some users said they were able to locate sprinklers easily by using it, others couldn’t because the sprinkler heads that that they were looking for doesn’t have enough metal in them.

Best metal detector for locating sprinklers

The bounty hunter tracker 4 is an affordable metal detector that can do the job. It is capable of detecting metal objects up to a few inches underground.

It has a simplistic interface, which has a target strength and a low battery indicator. Two 9 volts batteries are needed to power this device.

You can lay it on the ground while uncovering the valves because it has a stand below the arm cuff.

The onboard speaker will emit a beep whenever it detects a metal object, you can use headphones as well.

Since we don’t know how much metal there’s in the sprinklers and valves, set the sensitivity as a high as possible to pick the tiniest amount of metal. Keep increasing it and stop right before the machine starts to chatter.

The bounty hunter has the discrimination feature that allows you to tell the device which metals to ignore and which to react to by emitting a beep.

It does so based on the object conductivity. Since we don’t know what type of metal the sprinkler has (stainless-steel, brass or other). Set the discrimination as low as possible and select the all metal mode.

In this mode, the detector will react to any object it detects regardless of its nature.

However, if you find a lot of iron (like nails), you can adjust the machine to ignore them.

When you are done locating the sprinkler heads and valves, you can use it for other activities like hunting coins or give it to one of your loved ones.

The stem is adjustable. So it can be used by kids.

How to locate them?

This device is called a metal detector not a sprinkler head detector; this means that it will emit a signal whenever it detects something metal.

And that thing could be a nail, a coin, a pull-tab… or a valve. So to avoid frustration and digging your whole lawn.

Scan areas where it’s more likely to find what you are looking for.

After finding the sprinkler heads, mark them with flags with any color you choose.

Other ways to find sprinklers

  • Contact the previous owner of your house and ask him if he could help you find them. Even if he doesn’t know the exact location, he may have a rough idea where they are.
  • Look for the sprinkler plans from the company that installed them.
  • Open the valves, Some of the sprinklers will pop up, measure the distance between them with a tape then deduce the location of the rest. They are usually equidistant from each other.
  • The malfunctioning sprinklers are located in brown dry spots of your lawn. So focus on these areas.
  • Use valves and wires locators. They look similar to metal detectors and they work in a slightly different way. They are more expensive. So weigh your options, which one is better: buy this device or hire a professional to do it for you.
  • Use a chatterbox. It will cause the valves to start buzzing. The tone will be audible from a couple of feet.
  • Hire a professional to do the job for you.

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