Ask gardeners and they'll tell you that garden sprinklers are a great invention, but when they stop working, they become the greatest frustration. Take the time to learn to troubleshoot and repair a garden sprinkler and the frustration washes away. The next time your sprinklers start acting up, you'll know just what to do to solve the problem in no time.
Turn off the water system at the main shutoff valve.
Dig a 2-foot diameter hole around the head of the garden sprinkler, using a shovel. Place the sod on a tarp. You'll place this back in the hole when you're done with the repair.
Dig down to the riser. The riser is a vertical pipe 8 to 12 inches underground and attaches to the sprinkler head. Dig carefully to avoid breaking the plastic water line.
Turn the sprinkler head counterclockwise by hand and remove it from the riser. Try not to spill dirt into the riser. If the garden sprinkler head won't come off, use a wrench to remove it. You may have to hold the riser with slip-joint pliers to keep the riser from twisting loose from other fittings.
Reset the spray pattern on the new garden sprinkler head. This adjusts it to spray a specific area if desired. Some head types adjust by turning a slot at the top with a screwdriver. Some come with a special key that inserts into the head. Others have a tiny screw next to the nozzle that can be turned.
Place the new garden sprinkler head on the riser and turn it hand-tight. Don't use Teflon tape or joint compound on the riser threads or it will be more difficult to remove the next time.
Turn the main water valve back on and continue to adjust water spray if needed.