How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

What is the average life expectancy of a landscape sprinkler system?

Monday, March 2, 2020

How long does a sprinkler system last?

You can expect a landscape sprinkler system to last about 20 years. Although the underground pipes can remain functional for 40 years or more, most of the other components of the system, including the control panel, wiring, valves, and heads all need replacement at, or before, the 20 year point. Our experience in thousands of home inspections is that an older sprinkler system has either been extensively renovated or abandoned by around 20 years of age.

    Here are some of the factors that can shorten the life of a sprinkler system:

1) A hard winter freeze can fracture a backflow preventer if not well insulated.

2) The salts and disinfectants in reclaimed water will speed up the deterioration of the interior surface of sprinkler components that use it.

3) Rodents nesting in control valve boxes gnaw away the wiring.

4) Erosion of the soil will expose buried pipes to damage from mowers or walking over, especially around the perimeter of the home near foundation planting. Also, PVC pipe becomes brittle and cracks easily after sunlight exposure.

5) Cars or trucks driving over sprinkler heads or buried pipes can fracture them underground. This can happen near the edge of driveways and roads, and also under a driveway that has settlement cracks. 

    Go to our blog post What is the average lifespan of the parts of a house? for rating of other house components. To understand the basis, potential use, and limitations of lifespan ratings, see our blog post How accurate are the average life expectancy ratings of home components? Are they actually useful? 

    Also, see our blog post What problems does a landscape sprinkler system have when it is not used for a long time?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 
Field Guide for Home Inspectors, a quick reference for finding the age of 154 brands of HVAC systems, water heaters, and electrical panels, plus 210 code standards for site-built and manufactured homes, and the life expectancy rating of 195 home components. Available at for $19.95.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

Here’s links to a collection of some of our other blog posts about “SPRINKLER SYSTEMS":

Why is a backflow preventer required on lawn sprinkler systems?

• What is the difference between regular tap water and recycled/reclaimed water for landscape irrigation? 

What devices are code approved for backflow prevention at a sprinkler (lawn irrigation) system?

Why is the cover plate of some water meter boxes in the ground painted purple?

• Will a sprinkler system work without a vacuum breaker (backflow preventer)?

• Does the receptacle outlet in a garage for a sprinkler control panel have to be GFCI-protected?

 NOTE: These life expectancies are based on data provided by InterNACHI, NAHB, FannieMade, and our own professional experience. Because of the numerous variables that can affect a lifespan, they should be used as rough guidelines only, and not relied upon as a warranty or guarantee of future performance.

Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

"What Are The

Signs Of..."

Septic Tank Systems

Structure and Rooms

Plumbing Pipes

Termites, Wood Rot

& Pests



When It First

Became Code

"Should I Buy A..."

Park Model Homes


Shingle Roofs




Wind Mitigation

Roof and Attic

"Does A Home


Pool and Spa

"What Is The Difference Between..."




Concrete and

Concrete Block

Metal Roofs


Modular Homes

Rain Gutters

Mold, Lead & Other Contaminants


Older and

Historic Houses

Crawl Spaces

Mobile-Manufactured Homes

Building Permits

Life Expectancy

Clay Soil





Exterior Walls

& Structures


Common Problems

HUD-Code for

Mobile Homes

Garages and Carports

Flat (Low Slope) Roofs

Electrical Panels

Sprinkler Systems

Electrical Receptacle Outlets

4-Point Inspections

Hurricane Resistance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Home Inspection

Heating and Air Conditioning

Building Codes

Fireplaces and Chimneys

Inspector Licensing

& Standards

Energy Efficiency

Washers and Dryers



Doors and Windows



Electrical Wiring

Click Below  

for Links

to Collections

of Blog Posts

by Subject

Plumbing Drains

and Traps


Smoke & CO Alarms

Aging in Place

Top 5 results given instantly.

Click on magnifying glass

for all search results.






Air Conditioner & Furnace Age/Size


Electrical Switches





Water Intrusion

Electrical - Old

and Obsolete


Foundation Certifications

Tiny Houses

About McGarry and Madsen



Buying a home in North/Central Florida? Check our price for a  team inspection by two FL-licensed contractors and inspectors. Over 8,500 inspections completed in 20+ years. In a hurry? We will get it done for you.

Moisture Problems

Crawl Spaces