In-Depth Guide to Adjust Rain Bird Sprinkler Heads

Your sprinkler spray head should be in perfect condition to ensure it is able to spray the water where it is exactly required. For this, you need to adjust the sprinkler head correctly and check if it working properly.

In this article, we will dive in to explain some quick DIY tips on how to adjust Rain Bird sprinkler heads and troubleshooting methods to deal with some common sprinkler head problems.

How To Change The Spray Head Nozzle

change the rain bird sprinkler spray head nozzle

  • Shut off the water supply to the entire sprinkler system
  • Clear the grass and debris around the sprinkler head for up to 2 inches on all sides using a small shovel
  • Use a pair of pliers to unscrew the head
  • Remove the head from the PVC pipe
  • Take out the old nozzle
  • Remove the old filter mesh screen
  • Clean the head properly to remove the clogs and deposits
  • Insert and fix the new filter mesh screen
  • Fix the new nozzle turn clockwise to tighten
  • Insert the sprinkler head into the PVC pipe and tighten the screw

How To Change The Watering Direction

  • Install the spray head following the steps mentioned above
  • Rotate the stem of the spray head with your hands to adjust the spray pattern and direction

How To Adjust The Spray Distance

  • Use a small flat-bladed screwdriver to turn the center screw
  • Turn clockwise to cut the spray distance (up to 25%)

How To Change The Spray Pattern

Note: You may follow the steps below to adjust the spray pattern only if you have installed an adjustable Rain Bird sprinkler head in your garden.

  • Twist the threaded collar with your hand to the left or right to adjust the spray pattern from 0-360 degrees. (for 12 AP/15/18 series models)

Some advanced adjustable Rain Bird sprinkler heads have an additional adjustable tab on the top with (+) and (-) signs on the sides (2SA/42SA/42SA+/52SA series models). If you have any of these sprinkler head models, follow the steps below to adjust the spray pattern:

  • Use a flat-headed screwdriver to turn the screw on the tab clockwise (towards the + sign) to increase the spray pattern
  • Turn the screw counterclockwise to reduce the spray pattern

How To Align The Head To Fixed Left Edge

  • Pull up the turret and twist counterclockwise (to the left)
  • Turn the entire case towards the fixed left trip point

Note: If the turret does not turn easily while adjusting, then turn clockwise towards the right tip point.

How To Adjust The Rotor Radius

  • Locate the rotor’s radius adjustment socket
  • Using a screwdriver, twist counterclockwise to increase the radius or clockwise to decrease the radius

How To Install A New Rain Bird 3500 Series Rotor

  • Remove and separate the nozzle tree from the rotor
  • Choose the desired nozzle from the tree
  • Lift up the rotor’s stem
  • Insert the nozzle into the rotor stem and press tightly to fix it properly
  • Use a flat screwdriver to twist the radius reduction screw to retain the nozzle in a proper position

Follow the instructions above to adjust the spray distance or pattern.

How To Adjust A Rain Bird 5000 Series Rotor

Rain Bird Sprinkler Head Troubleshooting Guide

Problem 1: Head sprays Water To A Shorter Distance Than It Is Supposed To.

This may happen due to several reasons:

Low Water Pressure In Your Property

If you have low water pressure, having too many sprinkler-heads, the water will not reach greater distances. Cap off some sprinklers in the zone to increase water supply to the remaining heads.

Clogged Filter Screen And Nozzle

Your nozzle and filter mesh screen may be blocked with debris deposits over time. Remove the sprinkler head and clean the filter and the nozzle in running water. Now fix them again to check spray distance. If the problem persists, you may consider changing the nozzle and the filter.

Install A Wider Nozzle

Another probable cause of reduced spray distance is that you may be using a narrow nozzle. Consider replacing it with a larger diameter nozzle.

Problem 2: Spray Head Does Not Pop Up All The Way.

sprinkler Heads That Do Not Completely Pop-Up

The pop-up sprinkler heads have a smooth gliding stem that allows the nozzle to rise when water supply is turned on. If it is not coming out to the proper height, it may be clogged with debris deposits.

Clean the cap and the stem of the sprinkler head. This should put the head back into proper action. Check if any of the parts are cracked or chipped out. You may need to replace the broken part with a new one.


Problem 3: Spray Does Not Release Water In The Desired Disperse Pattern.

Check And Adjust The Spray Pattern

You need to adjust the spray pattern following the proper method depending on the Rain Bird model (as mentioned above). If you still have problems, it may be due to clogging in the nozzle.

Sprinkler Head Is Blocked With Debris

If the head does release water according to the chosen pattern, remove the head from the PVC pipe. Flush water into the nozzle and the filter to clean thoroughly. If the spray pattern does not work after cleaning, consider replacing your nozzle.

 Problem 4: Pop Up Sprinkler Only Dribbles After The Head Pops Out.

The water can’t disperse out due to blockage in the nozzle and the filter screen. Unscrew and remove the nozzle and the filter. Clean them properly and assemble them again.

Problem 5: Water Seeps Slowly From The Sprinkler Heads After The Valve Shuts Off.

If the piston or the diaphragm on the valve is clogged, it will not shut off completely. Check these parts and clean them properly.

In case, the problem persists despite the valve is functioning properly, you need to install a check valve to resolve the issue.

Final Words

It is easy to address the common issues in the Rain Bird sprinkler heads following the instructions in this guide. However, if you have a complex sprinkler head installed in the garden or having a serious problem, it is recommended to get expert help.

FYI, we also covered an article on rain bird and hunter brand sprinkler system comparison. You may check it out too.

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