How to clean an Irrigation Satellite

Posted by Craig Zellers

Dirty Sat Base BeforeNow that winter is upon us and the impending threats of a Godzilla El Nino is predicted; it is a great time to address some well needed maintenance for your irrigation control system.

The heartbeat of controlling an irrigation system are those pesky irrigation boxes which reside on the hinterlands of the fairways and roughs. Often hidden and overlook, these components of the system are paramount to the operation and control of your irrigation system.

We often visit many courses where the controllers and cabinents have not been cleaned out in years. We find insect infestations, ant colonies, corroded components, satellite boxes falling over, water damage, along with dirt and debris.

Even though the solid state components are in plastic boxes, covers, and cases; these same components need air flow to breathe so they do not overheat. If air can get in, then so can dirt, moisture, and insects.

Sat Base BeforeSat Base After

Cleaning up an irrigation satellite box is not rocket science and just takes a few tools, cleaning supplies, and a bit of time.

Tool Required:
  • Small Shop Vacuum with a hose (soft brush recommended)
  • Small portable generator (Do no use power supply at base of satellite)
  • Clean Blue Shop Towels (Paper not Cloth)
  • Phillips and Regular Screwdriver
  • Bucket / Soap / Water / Soft Sponge
  • Armor-All or equivelant cleaning product

Step 1 - Dissemble Cabinet and Faceplate 

Remove all cabinet doors and take out the face plate (The Brains) so you can get access to all the interior compartments and components.

Face Plate BeforeFaceplate After

Step 2 - Vacuuming 

Throughly vaccumn out underneath the face plate and extract all the dead bugs, ants, and other creepy crawly things you may find. Pay special attention to the base of the satellite where the conduit sweeps come up through the concrete slab as a lot of dirt and debris tend to collect there. Use a soft brush on the end of the vaccumn hose to vacumn the terminal strips and electrical components in the cabinet. The vacumn should clean out up to 70% of the dirt, dust, spider webs, and debris.

Step 3 - Cleaning 

Take your soft sponge and wring it out (from the soapy water) to where it is damp, but not dripping with water! Wipe / Scrub down all plastic housings both inside and outside the satellite box. *Be careful not to directly contact any solid state boards in this process. 

Sept 4 - Armor-All

Take your blue shop paper towels and spray armor-all directly on the towel and proceed to clean all plastic coverings and housings both inside and outside the satellite as you did in Step 3. *Be careful not to directly contact any solid state boards in this process. 

Step 5 - Check all Wire Connections / Connectors

Check all terminal screws and wire connectors to ensure that all connections are tight with either a phillips or regular screw driver.

Sat Cab After2Sat Cab After

Step 6 - Insect Spray

After you have reassembled all components, apply insect spray on the inside base of the satellite cabinet where the field and power wires come up through the electrical sweeps. Additonally, spray around the outside base of the cabinet and concrete pad. *Warning - Do not apply insect spray directly to any solid state components or boards. 

Each Satellite takes about 45-60 minutes each to do when cleaned properly. It is a bit labor intensive; yet an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

If you would like to schedule satellite cleaning service, please feel free to contact us and we will glady conduct this service for you.

Golf Irrigation Consultants - 415-342-1030