How to Solve a Jammed Sprinkler Head

A sprinkler is every gardener’s best friend. This motorized irrigation contraption helps to keep your home lawn nice and moist without any expense on your part. So, it’s not surprising how badly disrupted your daily chores routine can become when your trusty, old sprinkler suddenly malfunctions. While technology is an immense aid to mankind, it’s still prone to breakdowns and failures. Thus, in times of trouble like this, it’s important to be well-prepared to address such situations.

Causes of Malfunction

The gear drive system is the mechanism responsible for rotating your sprinklers consistently. However, when your sprinkler stops rotating, there may be a variety of reasons to account for this. 

The most common explanation would be the lack of cleaning of the component. Sometimes, too much dirt and muck might accumulate within the system, resulting in it getting jammed and inhibiting your sprinkler from rotating. In this scenario, try to clean out the filter by removing the pop-up assembly from the main body of the component. Once done, put it back in and test the sprinkler’s water pressure and rotation. Usually, this should resolve the problem.

However, if the region is cleaned but your sprinkler still refuses to rotate, alternative reasons might be the low water pressure in the system, an error during the assembly stages or sometimes it just happens to become corrupted. If it reaches any of these stages, the best solution would be to replace the mechanism. 

Reasons for Rotational Malfunction

While the sprinkler looks fairly simple to the regular person: a watering mechanism to irrigate grass and crops, there’s a lot more than just meets the eye. Plenty of gears and valves contribute to the construction of a sprinkler; and with any piece of technology, these mechanisms are bound to encounter difficulties and fall apart sometimes. 

1. Water pressure

The rotational force of sprinklers requires a considerable amount of strength to operate. This may be accrued to low water pressure. If the water pressure is too low, the sprinkler won’t be able to rotate completely to disperse water to its surroundings. However, the sprinkler will also malfunction if the converse is true where the water pressure is too strong. 

As a result, it’s important to keep a constant lookout for the water pressure of your sprinkler. Ensure that the sprinkler’s faucet is in working order such that you always have control over its flow of water.

2. Obstructions

It’s not uncommon for your sprinkler to encounter obstructions in the sprinkler head. This could come in the form of a stone, a small plant, a branch or even just mere dirt. Needless to say, if these rubbish materials end up blockading the rotating hinge of your sprinkler, your sprinkler would eventually stop rotating. Thus, perform a simple check every now and then to ensure there are no such obstructions.

3. Error in Assemblage

It’s a common occurrence for a lot of people to disregard the instruction manual these days. People assume that they can assemble parts of a contraption together through sheer logic, common sense and willpower. While in most cases this proves to work for them without too many hiccups, not following an assembly manual definitely increases the risks of potential errors to occur in the near future, even from the smallest oversight. 

Hence, don’t rush into assembling things. Take it slow and steady because patience is a virtue. By taking your time to properly assemble things, you ensure the longevity of your product rather than mere instant gratification.

However, there are instances when it’s not the assembler’s fault but rather, the product came with faulty or damaged components, to begin with. As there are various parts to a sprinkler, identifying the problematic component can turn out to be slightly tricky if you’re unknowledgeable about it. Thus, in such cases, you might choose to enlist the help of a professional with the relevant technical knowledge to fix your sprinkler or you could opt for the easier way out and replace the whole sprinkler.

Solutions: Getting rid of obstructions

I think from the above reasons for a faulty sprinkler, it seems pretty clear that the best solution to this would be to open the sprinkler and remove any obtrusive material if present. 

  1. Before you start, ensure that your working area is hazard-free. Unplug any power cables running through your sprinkler to prevent potentially fatal electrocution. If it’s not possible for you to remove it yourself, call on the help of a professional to aid you in doing so.
  2. Turn off all faucets and valves connected to the sprinkler. If the sprinkler suddenly bursts out water while you’re fixing it, things would definitely get messy.
  3. Disassemble the sprinkler head. Do so by spinning it counterclockwise before unscrewing it with a flat screwdriver. 
  4. Clean the sprinkler head with water. You can prepare a bucket of water ahead of time to facilitate the cleaning process faster.
  5. Don’t forget the filter! The filter is located underneath the sprinkler and can be accessed by using pliers. A decent amount of strength is required to pull the filter out. 
  6. Clear the filter of any dirt or debris using a brush, then rinse it out.
  7. Once you’re done cleaning all these components, reassemble your sprinkler by working backward from how you disassembled it. Be mindful of the delicate parts.

Solutions: Repairing Assembling Errors

For fixing assembling errors, it’s relatively easier. All you need to do is:

  1. Unscrew the sprinkler cap to access the internal assembly.
  2. Use a pair of pliers to remove the bottom component.
  3. Remember to clean the sprinkler or use sandpaper to polish it and smoothen out any unevenness.
  4. Reassemble it.


The sprinkler, without a doubt, is one of man’s greatest inventions in the field of gardening (no pun intended). However, just like any machinery out there, it’s bound to run into some mechanical complications or malfunctions because it’s not perfect. Thus, equipping yourself with adequate technical knowledge to deal with these mechanical problems is extremely useful in both the short and long run. However, regardless of your technical aptitude, guides like this exist for a reason.


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