How to Open a Sprinkler Valve Box Cover?

In industries associated with waterworks, you need sudden and quick access to a valve at times. If the valve is failed and you need to replace it quickly, or if there is any leakage through it, you need quick access. You might have seen such valves being placed under valve boxes which aren’t too easy to open quite often. Similar is the case with sprinkler system at homes. 

Under such circumstances, you must know how to open a sprinkler valve box cover to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Here are some of the steps you can follow in this regard. 

Steps to Open a Sprinkler Valve Box Cover

You can follow the steps mentioned below to get the job done quickly without much loss.

  • Access the Box first

As mentioned earlier, the box lies under the ground most of the times. People intentionally bury the box or cover it with debris. So, try to carefully remove that debris in order to get to the valve box. For that, you must have appropriate tools that may not let valve, cover or box get damaged. Once you end up accessing the top part of the box, you’ll be able to begin the process of cover removal.  

  • Access the Cover Precisely and Remove it

There are two types of valve box covers normally used. One of them is screwed into place with the help of a two-hole wrench. For opening such a valve box, mocked-up tools are mostly used just like a piece of bent rebar or anything like that. But this way can do more harm than good to the cover. The reason is that it lets more debris enter the valve box for which you may not be able to access the next part immediately. So, you’ll ultimately end up requiring more money, labor and a damaged part also (if you make any mistake). 

The other type of valve box cover uses a plug along with a pent head and a special wrench is required to open it. So, in such a case, it’s better to have a long-handled tool to get the job done. Such a tool won’t let you lie on the ground to work. Rather, you can just stand or kneel there and open the valve box cover with less effort than expected.

  • Remove Debris Present inside the Box

Once you end up removing the cover, look for soil or debris that may have entered the valve box over time or when you were removing the cover. Even though you can remove it in several ways, experts recommend to use an auger for this purpose. The reason is that, in order to access the remote areas of the valve box to remove the debris, you need it. After cleaning the valve box completely, you can start performing the work you were supposed to do, either on surrounding lines or the valve. 

  • Inspect the Cover Thoroughly 

After finishing up, take a look at the valve box cover closely to see if it is damaged and whether you can seat it properly. You may wash an unseated cover but that will lead to litigation which is a serious condition. Try to keep the cover as safe as possible since it is expensive and more rare.

So, if you have all the tools available and you know how to open a valve box cover, you may open it yourself, perform the work and put it there again. But if you aren’t aware of how to do it, don’t take any risk and let a professional do it in a more secure and efficient way or else, you’ll be on the losing side.

Why do we use a Valve Box?

As suggested by its name, a valve box encloses all the components that make up an entire irrigation system in order to provide the system with a safer environment when it is buried. This box protects the components from vandalism, the damage caused because of string trimmers or mowers. The case for sprinkler valve box cover is no different.

If we talk about a sprinkler valve box cover, it encloses the valves. Mostly, valves are present above ground and you may look for the valve box in the permitter of your home. You must also know how you can fix a sprinkler valve that wouldn’t shut off. Take a look at the steps below to do that:

  • Start by disconnecting one of the wires of the valve.
  • Turn the main water supply off if you can’t shut off the valve.
  • Remove the diaphragm then by removing the top part of the valve.
  • Turn the water supply on again and Flushing the valve out for a few seconds will complete the process.
  • At the end, take a closer look at the diaphragm for tears or holes.

You can’t actually run multiple zones using a single sprinkler valve only. However, if you want to do it, connecting several valves to a single zone may get the job done for you. So, this is the easiest, simplest and most complete way of understanding how you can fix a sprinkler valve that wouldn’t shut off.

In order to know if a valve is in fully opened or fully closed position, see:

  • If handle and pipe are parallel to each other, the valve is open.
  • If handle and pipe are perpendicular to each other, the valve is closed.

Once you get an idea of what the valves and valve box are there for and how you can open them, clean and close the entire system back, you can do it all yourself. In case of an emergency, just contact a professional immediately to get the job done for you.

Why is Water Shut Off Valve used?

You’ll find this water shut off valve on the outside wall of your house or in the basement. When this valve is open, water is allowed to flow freely through the pipe. Once you turn this valve off, the entire supply of water to your house will be closed.

You must be wondering whether the company also uses shut off valve or something like that to shut the water off. The water is shut off using the methods mentioned above (bringing the handle of valve and pipe either parallel or perpendicular). But if the company has stopped the water service for you, you must not try to turn it back on as it is an illegal way to access water. Also, this may damage the valve or pipe or in the worst case, can break it which is not what you want. 

The best you can do is to contact a professional for this purpose also. Moreover, the water meter at your home must also tell you if there is any leakage. That’s the only way, apart from exposing the valve, to check if there is any leakage. If you find it, just try to get rid of it to save as much water as possible. 

How Much would you need to pay for Changing a Sprinkler Valve?

The average cost for repairing your entire sprinkler system is much less than the capital cost. You just need to pay in between $75 and $250, out of which $20 to replace each sprinkler head, $40 to replace each valve and the professional plumber would also cost you around $75 for an hour or so. All in all, the cost is bearable and you don’t have to repair the system every month. So, spending this much amount after a year or so isn’t a big deal, particularly when you are concerned about your lawn’s health.


Opening a sprinkler valve box cover is a difficult task, particularly if you haven’t done it before. You need to access the sprinkler valve box first which is possible only if you know where it is buried. After that, know where the cover is and then remove it. Clean it, repair or replace the valve or whatever you were supposed to do and put the cover back again. 

All you need is to develop some understanding of, in which cases, the cover, pipe or valve can be damaged and how to avoid those situations. After that, you’ll be able to perform the task. Otherwise, you will have to spend at least $250 to get the same job done in a more secure and efficient way.

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