Some Easy Ways To Avoid Big Surprises!!!
Our Customer Service and Management Teams have seen a lot over the years when it comes to high water bills. Lawn irrigation is the overwhelming culprit in most cases, but its not always intentional. One of my favorite sayings is that “human happens everywhere!”. Of course, my family and the teams at Sardis tend to roll their eyes every time I say it but
its true, we all make honest mistakes (myself more than most). Good intentions
sometimes have unintended consequences because there is simply too much to know
and way too much to possibly overlook. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of
commonly made mistakes along with solutions and tools to help the average
homeowner be better equipped with knowledge concerning automatic controllers and
watering their lawns. By no means do we “know it all”; however, we have seen a lot!
If you would like to make suggestions to expand on what’s listed below or talk about
your own irrigation system, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 972-775-8566.
Paul Tischler, GM
These common mistakes are in no particular order:
Programs A, B, C, & D! What? There is more than one program? This is very common. Make sure that if you only want one schedule to run, that only one program is running. Most controllers are a “one size fits all” device and have way more options than the typical homeowner would need. Think of it in terms of Program A is for shrubs; Program B could be for rotors; Program C could be for trees; Etc, Etc, Etc. If you are wanting to keep it simple and run only one program on specific days of the week, make sure that all programs are turned OFF except for the one that you want to run!
Start Times! Let’s say for example that you have mastered the multiple program pitfall listed above. Now check your start times. A controller may let you run a program 4, 5, 6, or even more times a day. A real-world example of this would be when someone plants new sod or has an area hydro mulched. To get the new grass established, there may be a need to schedule a start time at 6:00 AM to run for a couple of hours and then again at 9:00 pm for a couple of hours. Typically, this is the exception and not the rule. Most people intend to run their program only one time per day. If you have a total of 4 start time options and you have each start time set identically for 10:00 pm, the starts will “spool” just like sending multiple large print jobs to a printer. Once the first document finishes, then document number 2 prints, then number 3 and so on. If you only want one start time per program, make sure start time #1 is on and ALL other start times are turned OFF!
Rain/Moisture Sensors? These are a great idea. They truly help save water by shortening or deleting a set run time while its raining. For illustration purposes, let’s say that you set your controller to only run Program A @ 10:00pm every other day. Billing cycles use meter readings from the 15th through the 15th which averages 30 days. So, running automatically every other day results in 15 run times for this billing cycle. Now let’s say that it rains a lot in May (rain sensor eliminated 50% of the runs), a little less in June (rain sensor eliminated 25% of the runs), and none in August (rain sensor just sat there lonely and distraught). In this example, your bill due in June would include only 7 sprinkler system runs, July’s bill would represent 11 runs, and the bill in August would be for the maximum programmed amount of 15 runs. The homeowner changed nothing, but the bill went up! The only thing to do here is to know whether your system has a rain sensor and be aware of how it works!
Back-up Batteries? What, does everything on the planet take a battery now? My controller plugs in, so it doesn’t have a battery! Well, some controllers do have back-up batteries to help save settings and programs if the power goes off. It can only take a few seconds for a controller that loses power to revert back to factory settings if the back-up battery is dead. Please don’t misunderstand, not all controllers have battery back-ups. Some of the ones that do can be replaced while others are built in. Some models use 9-volt (smoke alarm) batteries while others use compact batteries like what would be in a watch. Regardless, be aware that your settings can change in the event of power loss. Look in the manual for your specific controller to see if it has a battery backup and where its located.
Math Class: Lets keep it simple. We have only one program running, and it only runs one time each day. Its August and no rain has been seen for 45 days so we set the controller to run the program on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday (3 times per week). There is an average of 4 weeks in the billing month, which means the program will run (3 times per week X 4 weeks) 12 times. Now let’s say that there are 20 zones on your system and each zone is individually set to run for 10 minutes. Twenty zones TIMES ten minutes each results in 200 minutes of run time per program. How much water is that? This will vary depending on the exact pressure at your home, what nozzles are in the sprinkler heads, how many heads are on a zone, etc. For this example, we will say that each zone uses 15 gallons per minute for each minute that it runs. So, 200 minutes X 15 gallons/minute results in 3,000 gallons being used each time the system runs. The total monthly water used in this situation is (12 times per month X 3,000 gallons per run) 36,000 gallons. This stuff adds up quick! If you go to our website www.sardiswater.com/water-rates , you will find out exactly what we charge for water and how to calculate your bill. At the bottom of the page is a place where you can enter different amounts of water and our program will calculate the charge for you. The example above calls for 36,000 gallons for irrigation. Add your normal household use to this (system average is 7,000 gallons per month/home) and this homeowner could expect to use a total of 43,000 gallons. Type this into the calculator, click enter, and an estimated bill is calculated at $269.25. Please know that some residential zones can do 8 gallons/minute while others can do 20 gallons/minute. Every irrigation system is unique. If you really want to know what is being used on your system you can read the water meter before and after a complete run. The difference in the readings is the amount of water being used!
EYE-ON-Water: Go to our home page @ www.sardiswater.com to find instructions on how to sign up for our Eye-On-Water App. It’s free and easy. You can see trends in usage, notice patterns for sprinkler systems, and be in complete control of your water bill. If you have looked at your meter box lately, you have seen a round looking device attached to the lid. This is a cellular endpoint that transmits stored data to our database once per day (usually in the middle of the night). Please be careful when mowing and prevent damage to the endpoint. Readings are stored locally in the meter and if the endpoint is damaged or destroyed, we can still read the meter manually, but you will not have information to see in the Eye-On-Water App. The “chip” shortage that has been affecting the auto industry is also wreaking havoc in the water meter industry. New endpoint shipments have been delayed until the products can be manufactured once the supply chain has been restored. A damaged endpoint cost time and money requiring a technician to manually read the affected meters AND they cost $175 to replace. The cost for a new endpoint may be passed along to the customer in the future if we experience too many being damaged due to lawnmowers and other forms of preventable damage.