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North Carolina Licensed Commercial Plumber
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North Carolina Licensed Irrigation Contractor
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Frequently Asked Questions


  1. How long has Reitzel Irrigation been in business?
  2. What is Reitzel Irrigation and how did they get their start?
  3. What is the advantage of an automatic system over dragging hoses around the lawn?
  4. What type of water source do I need to utilize an automatic sprinkler system?
  5. What is a controller?
  6. What are zones?
  7. What is the advantage of a second/separate meter?
  8. What are the different heads?
  9. What type of pipe do you use?
  10. Do you ever use poly pipe?
  11. What is a backflow preventer?
  12. Can a licensed irrigation contractor install a backflow preventer?
  13. How can Reitzel Irrigation include the backflow in their contract?
  14. What is a NC Licensed Irrigation Contractor?
  15. What are the tan or green covers that look like cooler or sewing machines on the sides of homes with irrigation?
  16. How do I know my backflow is installed correctly?
  17. What type of machine do you use?
  18. After I install my system, will you provide service?
  19. Do I need to winterize my system?
  20. What about turning the system back on in the spring after winterizing it?
  21. Do you offer automatic maintenance plans?
  22. What type of products are you using when you install and service our irrigation system?
  23. Why do you use Hunter Irrigation Products over other brands?
  24. How do you find Irrigation valves no one else can find?

1. How long has Reitzel Irrigation been in business?

Reitzel Irrigation was originally started in 1985 and in 1992, Chris Reitzel decided to join forces with another member of the family. After 20 years of service and the downturn of the economy in 2008, Reitzel Irrigation decided to focus solely on Irrigation service and to provide the best service possible for customers.

2. What is Reitzel Irrigation and how did they get their start?

In 1985, Chris Reitzel started Reitzel Irrigation and in 2011, Reitzel Irrigation started back part time performing installations only and in 2012, took over all installations, backflow testing, service and low voltage lighting. In the early 1970s, Chris helped his father and brother install the first all plastic pipe irrigation system on an 18 hole golf course owned by the family until 1982.

3. What is the advantage of an automatic system over dragging hoses around the lawn?

Dragging hoses around the lawn is hard to provide even coverage on the entire lawn, not to mention being labor intensive. An automatic system is designed to distribute water evenly over the entire lawn, as well as it doesn't forget to shut off, hence the term "automatic"

4. What type of water source do I need to utilize an automatic sprinkler system?

Reitzel Irrigation can use a city water meter*, separate irrigation meter, well, pond or lake. For meters, certain local codes must be met and wells must provide enough gallons per minute to handle the system. Ponds and Lakes must meet local "right to draw water" codes. Of course, pumping from a pond or lake will require available 220 volt power supply to operate the electric pump.

5. What is a controller?

A controller is the brain of the system, also referred to as a "clock", "timer", or "computer". The controller can be installed inside or outside as long as it has an available 110 volt wall receptacle is located in close proximity. Controllers range from simple to smart. We primarily use Hunter Pro-C or Hunter Pro-HC (wifi) Controllers, we do not use "homeowner" type controllers that can be bought at Lowes/Home Depot, all of our controllers are professional grade and can only be purchased by a contractor from a factory authorized distributor. Commercial controllers we generally use anything from a Pro-C to a ACC2 from Hunter depending on the site.

6. What are zones?

Zones are the different sections of the lawn that run together in sequence. Lots of times they are called valves as well. Also, by code, we cover each valve with a 10in green plastic valve box that reads "Irrigation Control Valve".

Under the new irrigation law passed in 2009, we are required to keep different types of irrigation separate, meaning that rotor heads cannot be running at the same time as spray heads because spray heads put out more water in the same area than rotor heads can do. Running the zone long enough to get proper watering for the rotor heads will result in the spray head area being over-waterd.

7. What is the advantage of a second/separate water meter?

The advantage is the homeowner doesn't have to pay sewage fees on the water used like on a regular house meter. Also, in the State of North Carolina, any home or lot platted after July 1, 2009 must have a separate irrigation meter unless the county the work will take place in allows a variance to allow use of the the domestic meter, so check with your local water supplier first. Variances are NOT permitted in Cabarrus or Lincoln County.

8. What are the different heads?

The major types of heads are rotors, mini-rotors, and sprays. The zone size and/or landscape usually dictate which type of head would be installed. As a general rule and best practice, spray heads are not mixed in the same zone with rotors. Rotors can throw water up to 40ft in one direction, while mini-rotors throw water up to 24ft and sprays up to 17ft.

  • Rotor heads are exactly that, they are the gear driven rotors that move from side to side in an arc pattern. They are typically installed on larger areas, like a front yard.
  • Spray heads are exactly that, they are the heads that stay in one fixed position and spray outward. They are typically installed on smaller areas, like a side yard. Different nozzles are available for different lengths/applications.
  • Mini-Rotors are special nozzles that have been released recently that can be fitted to any Spray head body and can make a spray head into a rotor head. They can be mixed with rotor heads. These are generally installed on medium areas that need special coverage that is to big for a spray head and to small for a rotor head.

9. What type of pipe do you use?

We use ALL Plastic PVC PR-200 psi pipe. The smallest size of PVC piping we use on a residential job is 1in while on a commercial job (depending on its size) we may use at least 3in size pipe. All fittings (elbows, tees, couplings, etc...) are rated as Schedule 40 PVC.

10. Do you ever use poly pipe?

NO. We have found that we have been performing a lot of repairs on systems over 5 years old that were installed with poly 100 piping. Over time, pin holes will develop in the pipe and that causes a leak, meaning saturated grass and a high water bill.

11. What is a backflow preventer?

A backflow preventer is a device that only allows water to flow in one direction. By law any system connected to a potable water supply must have a Reduced Pressure Assembly Backflow installed to prevent water supply contamination. All of the backflows preventers we install are sourced locally and all are made in the USA. We primary install Watts brand, but we sometimes use Wilkins or Febco brands. All perform the exact same function and all are approved by the City of Charlotte/International Plumbing code for use.

12. Can a licensed Irrigation Contractor install a backflow preventer?

NO. Only a NC Licensed Commercial Plumber can legally install a backflow preventer. In addition, only the homeowner or a licensed general contractor can contract and pay the plumber. If a NC Licensed Irrigation Contractor pays the plumber or includes the backflow installation in his contractor and DOES NOT have a Commercial Plumbing license or a general contractor license, he is contracting WITHOUT a license and has broken the law.

There are only a handful of local (Charlotte area) irrigation companies that ALSO have a NC Commercial Plumbing License, we are one of them. We are also one of the ever smaller companies that can offer a turnkey solution, as we are licensed to not only install the backflow, but also to test it.

13. How can Reitzel Irrigation include the backflow in their contract?

In 1992, Chris Reitzel completed the necessary requirements to obtain a NC Commercial Plumbing license and has been maintaining his license in good standing ever since.

14. What is a NC Licensed Irrigation Contractor?

An individual that has met the state requirements to install irrigation through NC. We must follow a strict code of requirements and complete at least 10 hours of Continuing Education each year, in addition to having a $10,000 surety bond on file with the State Board.

15. What are the tan or green covers that look like cooler or sewing machines on the sides of homes with irrigation?

Those are the required insulation covers that are required by the International Plumbing Code to protect the backflow preventer. Each cover has to be ASE certified and carry a certification plate. Wood boxes, insulated bags and other non conforming covers are not accepted. Having a backflow cover is not a replacement for properly draining your backflow preventer in the winter.

16. How do I know my backflow is installed correctly?

The plumber must permit the assembly and have it inspected upon installation. The inspection and permit is handled by the City/County Code Enforcement Division and the inspector is also a licensed plumber and is the same one that most likely inspected your home's plumbing. They inspect trench depth, materials, device, cover and location. Any assembly that DOES NOT pass inspection must be corrected and be reinspected before a final is issued. Licensed Plumbers can incur fines for inspection failures and repeated failures can result in the plumber having to relicense and take the test again.

Any citizen may contact their local Code Enforcement/Building Standards department to check and see if their backflow device was permitted and inspection.

17. What type of machine do you use?

We have trenching attachments as well as vibratory plows. Depending on the lawn and layout of the system we will determine which attachment will be used, we mainly use trenching as it is faster and easier to install piping. We strive to minimize the damage to the customers already established lawn. We have machines from Ditch Witch Mini-Skidsteers to a mini excavator to a small backhoe.

18. After I install my system, will you provide service?

Yes. Reitzel Irrigation has a full time service truck driven by a Licensed Commercial Plumber, Backflow Tester and Irrigation Contractor. We also offer Emergency Service for an additional charge on the weekends and holidays if absolutely necessary, most leaks can be stopped at the backflow preventer.

19. Do I need to winterize my system?

Yes. Even though the backflow preventer has a insulated cover, a couple of cold nights and days can cause up to $700 in repairs for a new backflow and up to $1,500 for a new pump.

20. What about turning the system on in the spring after winterizing it?

In the spring, Reitzel Irrigation will pressurize the backflow (or prime your pump if you have one) audit all of the zones for proper operation and make any necessary repairs to make sure your system is operating optimally for a new years worth of watering.

21. Do you offer automatic maintenance plans?

Yes! Currently we only do this for our select group of commercial customers. We have agreements with them to automatically get their system going in the spring, check it right before fall aeration, and winterize it back down for winter.

22. What type of products are you using when you install and service our irrigation system?

We use only the best, American Made products in our business. After a careful look at the materials we use, 99% of them are made in the United States and 100% of them are made by businesses Headquartered in this country.

Our Primary irrigation products (rotors, sprays, valves, controllers, sensors) we use are manufactured by Hunter Industries at their plant in California. Our primary backflow assemblies are manufactured by Watts at the foundry in either Spindale, North Carolina or N. Andover, Massachusetts. Pipe and associated fittings are also made right here in America. We are proud to purchase American Made products. We purchase 100% of all materials we use right here in Charlotte, NC, supporting local people and local businesses. Our primary irrigation/lighting/landscape material suppliers are SiteOne Landscape Supply and Smith Turf and Irrigation.

23. Why do you use Hunter Irrigation Products over other brands?

Good Question. The reason why we decided to use Hunter Industries as our main irrigation parts supplier is due to many factors. From our experience in installing Hunter over 15 years, we have found that we have very good quality out of their products, with some products exceeding 10 years in service with no issues. Some contractors use heads that are different from the valves and controllers that are different from everything else. We chose to single source all our components to eliminate carrying multiple brands for truck stock and it also allows us to know exactly what kind of material a customer has on their job because we used all of the same components, consistency is a must! Plus, we always carry repair stock so if we installed your system, you can bet we have the same parts already on the truck.

Hunter is well know for Commercial irrigation, while companies such as RainBird (know for its Residential) and Toro (known for its Golf Course lines) are known for different segments. Majority of the commercial jobs we visit use Hunter so we decided to start using Hunter for all of our jobs, Hunter parts are more "Light Commercial" grade than Residential. Hunter is constantly innovating new products that not only have cool features, but proven water savings.

We also use Toro Professional Irrigation products (such as valves, rotors and spray heads/nozzles) for service work, however all new installations are completely Hunter Products. We have seen excellent longevity and reliability from both Hunter and Toro products.

24. How do you find Irrigation Valves no one else can find?

We use state of the art electronics, that is how. We have equipment ranging from electrician grade (Fluke) multimeter (which we use to diagnose electrical problems with valves, such as bad solenoids), to valve "buzzers" which with the water off will make the valve vibrate loudly which aid in finding them.

But the Coup de grāce is our brand new SubSite Underground Utility Locator! The same technology that those for hire locators use that mark for 811 is available to us. Sure every contractor has those locators that just beep on top of the wire, but ours can find stuff theirs can only dream of. It can find everything from irrigation valves to power lines. We can even tell you, with the push of a button, how deep the wire is! With this technology, we can proudly say, there isn't a valve we can't find, and its really true; to date we have located 100% of the valves we have been contracted to find! It doesn't get any better than that! We also have equipment that can pinpoint a fault/break in control wiring.

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Specializing in Irrigation Installation, Repairs, Service and Backflow Testing, Backflow Repairs, and Backflow Replacements in the Charlotte NC Metro Area
Reitzel Irrigation, Inc. | Ph. (704) 361-2026 | 6370 Crayton Road | Mount Pleasant, NC 28124-9148 | [email protected]

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