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How to Raise Or Lower Sprinkler Heads Using Cut Off Nipples

Over a period of time the level of your lawn changes, making your sprinkler head too high or low. It can be caused by shrinking/swelling of the soil due to moisture content changes, soil build up from lawn clipping and leaf decomposition, erosion under a head from leaks, or just more or less gravity in that part of the yard. Regardless, you now have to raise or lower your sprinkler head.

Many sprinkler heads are mounted directly to the PVC pipe. Some are on what is known as funny pipe or swing fittings. Whichever way they are mounted, the final connection between the head and the water supply is the nipple, sometimes called a riser. Fixed length nipples are simply pieces of threaded PVC pipe. These work great but if you are going to raise a number of heads you have to measure each one before your trip to the store. If you measure incorrectly, well, you already know where the store is.

A better idea is to use a cut-off nipple. It is exactly what it sounds like: a nipple you can cut to length. You determine the length you need, cut with a sharp knife or PVC shears, install and you are done. Unscrew the sprinkler head, remove the old nipple, install the new, and re-install the sprinkler head.

A handy feature of cut-off nipples is, depending on you cut, you can get 2 or 3 sizes to use.

A couple of things to remember: First, the hole will probably have water in it. You can bale it out, use a pump, or just ignore the water. Second, try not to let any dirt fall into the pipe. If you do, don’t worry. Install the head, take off the nozzle and turn on the zone for a second. It will blow the dirt out. Finally, if in doubt, make the nipple too long. Easier to cut it again than to order an atomic PVC stretcher. That’s all there is to it.

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