Things You'll Need
A little bit of added water pressure will sometimes force stuck heads to pop above your lawn's surface. Try pressing down on active heads to force the water pressure to rise in the other heads.
Use caution when using the spade around the sprinkler heads. A small amount of pressure will penetrate the surface of your lawn, but too much pressure will damage your sprinkler heads.
After a long winter when you finally try to run your in-ground sprinkler system again, you may notice that there are several sprinkler heads that are not rising above the ground. In some instances, these heads can become so firmly stuck that it's difficult to locate them. Because a malfunctioning sprinkler head will cause dry, brown spots in your lawn, you must locate and free the stuck heads quickly. Luckily this task requires only minor instruction and a small investment of time.
Turn on your sprinkler system using its controller. The controller typically is located near your home's utility boards in the garage or basement. Simply choose any zone you like, and select "on." Try to activate the exact zone in which you need to locate the buried head.
Measure the distance between active heads using a tape measure. To avoid getting wet, note the location of one of the functioning heads, and then turn off the water and move down in a straight line to the next head. Finding the exact distance between two of your sprinkler heads will help you determine where the missing head(s) are located. Usually each zone will pop up at least 3 heads.
With the entire sprinkler system activated, identify blind spots in coverage. Sprinkler heads are usually equidistant from each other, and many are tucked in the corners and edges of your lawn's layout. If you notice an area that isn't getting enough water coverage--or an area where no water is coming up--from the heads that pop up when the sprinkler is engaged, you've likely identified an area with a malfunctioning sprinkler head.
Probe blind spots with the tape measure and spade. Measure the distance--based on the measurement made above--from a nearby head. Then, lightly stab and scrape the ground with the spade to find the head. Though this process may take some time, you will eventually feel or see the solid circular rubber top of a sprinkler head. Then, you merely need to pull up on it firmly with your fingers to unstick it and return it to working order.
C. Paul Martin
C. Paul Martin began writing in 2003 while studying at Christendom College, Va. He specializes in theological/ideological history and socio-historical topics such as the Reformation, the Crusades and the ideology of revolutions. Martin holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and theology, and is pursuing his Master of Arts in history at National University in California.