How Much Water Does a Lawn Sprinkler Use?

Monday, December 7, 2020

Check Your In-Ground Lawn Sprinklers’ Output with Catch Cups + Tuna Cans

Homeowners: Do you know how much water your in-ground sprinkler system uses?

If you don’t, then you can perform a simple test using catch cups or tuna cans.

Tuna Can Sprinkler Test

How Much Water Does a Lawn Sprinkler Use?

There’s a simple test you can use to measure the amount of water your lawn sprinkler system puts out.

But first, you need to know the causes of an inefficient in-ground lawn sprinkler. There are many causes why your in-ground sprinkler system isn’t working efficiently. The following factors affect your outdoor irrigation system’s output:

  • The sprinkler system’s age
  • Worn-out nozzles
  • Bent or low-lying spray heads
  • Your home’s water pressure
  • The wind direction while your system is on
  • Your sprinkler’s pump efficiency
  • The sprinklers’ rotation times.

If you want an accurate reading, you need to perform a catch cup test to see where the problem lies in your lawn sprinkler system.

How to Perform a Catch Cup Test

It’s easy to test your sprinkler system using catch cups. Catch cups are cone-shaped containers that fit into a holder. You can buy catch cups at Amazon, the Home Depot, and Lowes.

If you don’t want to buy catch cups, you can use tuna cans instead. You’ll need the following three things to perform a tuna can sprinkler test:

  1. You’ll need a timer.
  2. You need at least two tuna cans or catch cups (if you’re testing multiple zones, you’ll need more catch cups or tuna cans).
  3. You’ll need a ruler for measuring.

Read more: Why Your Lawn Sprinkler System Adds Value to Your Home

You should perform the catch cup test for each watering zone that’s on your property. Here’s the rundown of how to perform a can test:

  • Place tuna cans or catch cups within your spray heads range. Make sure to place catch cups at the furthest part of each zone to see if there’s a water pressure change.
  • Turn on the sprinklers located within the zone with the catch cups.
  • Run the sprinkler for 15 minutes.
  • Turn off the sprinkler after 15 minutes.
  • Take your ruler and measure how much water fell in each cup. You want to write down the measurements from each catch cup, so you’ll also need paper and a pen or your mobile device.
  • Find the average water output by adding all of the measurements and dividing them by the number of catch cups used in each zone.
  • Perform this test for each hydrozone.

You’ll notice a pattern or deficiencies in the zones you tested. For example, you may have a spray head that doesn’t fully rise, or the water pressure is lower in one zone.

It’s easy to fix nozzles, broken spray heads, and other parts that affect water output.

Watch More: Save Water, Time & Money with a K1 Smartset Irrigation Sprinkler

Plus, you can determine how long your in-ground lawn sprinkler must run to distribute 1” of water per zone. Use the following to set your sprinkler system’s timer:

  • If the sprinkler’s output is 1/8” within 15 minutes, it’ll take 120 minutes to reach 1” of water.
  • If your lawn sprinkler’s output is ½” in 15 minutes, it’ll take 30 minutes to give your lawn 1” of water.
  • If you got 1” in 15 minutes, you’d set your time for 15 minutes to water that zone.

If you have drip irrigation set up in your landscape, you can perform a catch cup test on it.

Use the same methodology above, except you’ll be measuring in gallons per hour based on the emitter’s type. You can find the type of emitter by checking the number stamp on each emitter.

Next Steps after the Catch Cup Test

Use the numbers you discovered with the catch cup test and use them to schedule your watering sessions. You’ll reduce the amount of wasted water and be rewarded with a reduced water bill as well.

You can find controllers, pump start relays, and driplines on our website. If you’re new to outdoor sprinkler systems, you can find a contractor to perform a catch cup test for you.

You can also buy your K-Rain sprinkler system parts at our online store or your favorite big-box retailer.

If you have any questions about your K-Rain outdoor lawn sprinkler, call our customer service at 800-735-7246 or fill out our contact form.

Sources, “Catch Can Test.”, “Measure Your Sprinklers' Water Use.”