Pipe Riser Fittings: How to Use them in a  Sprinkler Systems

Pipe Riser Fittings: How to Use them in a Sprinkler Systems

Jul 2nd 2024

A pipe riser is a fitting used to connect the lateral pipe of the sprinkler system to the sprinkler head. The distance from the lateral pipe (carrying water from the mainline) to the ground surface varies. Therefore, the riser is used to install sprinklers at various heights. If you want to maximize the performance and efficiency of your sprinkler system, a riser is one of the essential components to consider. These fittings are available in plastic and aluminum material. There are different types of risers, but their purpose and function are the same. Let's discover more about these fittings and their purpose.

What is a Sprinkler Riser?

A riser is an irrigation component that connects the lateral pipe to the sprinkler head. Sprinklers should be positioned above the ground at an appropriate height to ensure continuous water flow and uniform coverage. With pipe riser fittings, you can adjust the location of sprinklers to the desired height.

Standard risers are available at fixed lengths, so it is crucial to get the correct riser to ensure your sprinkler sits at the proper height. The correct position of sprinkler heads is important for adequate watering. Moreover, the riser protects the sprinklers from potential damage from lawnmower collisions or other accidents. Another good thing about them is that they are cheaper and easier to install or replace.

Different Types of Risers and Their Uses

Here are the different types of pipe risers, their features, and their benefits.

Nipple Risers or Simple Pipe Risers

This is the basic type of pipe riser. It comes in different materials, but most are made of Schedule 80 PVC. A standard nipple-style pipe riser has two male thread ends. These threaded ends allow the riser to insert into a threaded tee fitting and sprinkler bottom. Nipple risers are available in a range of lengths and sizes. One downside of these risers is that they may break if run over by heavy equipment.

Swing Joint Risers

This is one of the most common riser types, offering built-in flexibility in sprinkler installation. A swing joint riser is often used with pop-up sprinklers. It is a single length PVC pipe with two 90-degree elbow fittings on both ends.

Swing-joint style risers are available in two forms: flexible swing risers and rigid swing risers. The flexible swing riser is perfect for residential or non-commercial applications. Using swing arm risers is an affordable and effective way to install sprinklers at your desired height.

Rigid Arm Risers

Rigid arm risers work like flexible swing arm risers. They also allow for the smooth installation of sprinkler heads and compensate for the potential movement of sprinklers. Rigid-style arm risers have one longer part of rigid PVC pipe with articulating joints on the end. Rigid arm risers come in three types depending on the number of joints: double swing arm riser, triple swing arm riser, and quadruple swing arm riser.

These types of risers are preferable for industrial and large-scale applications. However, due to their rigid nature and PVC materials, they are more prone to freezing damage than other designs.

Benefits of Pipe Riser Fittings for Sprinkler Systems

Risers maximize the efficiency of your sprinkler system by properly positioning the sprinkler heads. The benefits of risers include:

Provides Protection Against Damage: Risers position the sprinkler head correctly and ensure it is not too low or too high, which avoids potential damage from a lawn mower and hefty costs.

Easy Adjustment of Sprinkler Height: With risers, sprinkler height can be easily lowered or raised. You can level the top of the sprinkler with the ground and move the head without digging up the lateral pipes.

Flexible Sprinkler Placement: Risers allow you to adjust the sprinkler height or placement according to nearby obstacles and any landscaping changes you made.

Low Investment: Installing risers does not require advanced tools or a professional.

How to Raise a Sprinkler Head Using Riser

Standard risers are designed with up to six 1/2-inch-long male threaded fittings on both ends. Cut off the fittings you need, thread them into the T fitting on the lateral pipe, and then screw the sprinkler on the riser. Here are the steps to install the risers.

  • Start by determining how high you need to raise the sprinkler head.
  • Turn off the valve for the sprinkler system's water supply.
  • Carefully dig around the sunken sprinkler with a hand shovel until the irrigation pipe and T fitting are visible. The depth of the digging should be 6 to 8 inches. Remove the grass and dirt around the sprinkler head.
  • Clear the dirt around the sprinkler head with a sharp brush, then unscrew it by twisting it counterclockwise a few times.
  • Choose the right riser height.
  • Screw the riser into the T pipe, and then screw the sprinkler head into the riser by hand. Make sure the sprinkler head is vertical and properly placed.
  • Repeat the same procedure with other sunken sprinklers.
  • Turn the valve on and inspect the connections for leaks. If any leaks occur, tighten the fittings. Once everything is secure, fill the area around the heads with soil and reposition the grass around the sprinklers.

What Type of Riser is Best for My Sprinklers?

Sprinkler heads are classified into multiple types based on their water distribution methods, such as rotor and spray-type sprinklers. You need to get the right riser for your sprinkler system by ensuring the size and function of the riser are compatible with the sprinkler type. Consider these factors when choosing the right riser.

Size: Check the size of both the riser and sprinkler head because they need to be threaded securely. The threads on sprinkler bodies are usually 3/4" but could also be 1/2" thread size.

Trench Depth: The lateral pipe depth and sprinkler body height must suit the chosen riser.

Do Sprinkler Risers Need Thread Sealant Tape?

It depends on the riser's material. Some risers need standard Teflon tape to seal the riser's thread firmly, preventing leaks around the inlet threats. Additionally, the thread tape provides a long-lasting lubricant. However, swing arm risers have threaded ends, so they don't usually require Teflon tape.

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