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Tips For Troubleshooting Sprinkler System Leaks

by Dan Mckinney

If you've recently installed a sprinkler system in your yard, you need to know how to spot potential leaks and problems. If your lawn is developing brown spots despite the installation of an irrigation system, there may be a problem in the lines. Before you call a sprinkler system contractor or plumber to find the problem, you can do some of the work yourself. You might even find it's an easy fix once you find the leak. Here are a few of the things you should know to help you narrow it down.

Finding The Leak

The first step to resolving the problem is to find the location of the leak. While you might think that you need a lot of specialized equipment to narrow down a leak, there are a few things you can do on your own to narrow it down.

Check The Lawn - The first thing you should do is to look at your lawn. Look for areas that may be soggy or oversaturated with water. If there's a lot of water in one area, that's likely the area where the leak is, because the saturated soil happens due to the water flow.

Test The Sprinklers - If you're seeing low water pressure in the system but can't find the actual leak, one of the best ways to narrow it down is to put the caps on each sprinkler head. Then, you can turn on the entire sprinkler system to open up water flow to all of the zones. Watch the lawn for signs of soil moisture. The pressure developed in the system by capping the sprinkler heads will push the water out the crack in the pipe, so that will be the only area that gets wet.

Assess Each Zone - If you are having trouble spotting the source of the problem, you can test the system by zone. Turn on one zone at a time to assess the water pressure in that zone. Start with the zone closest to the control box, then move to the next one in the line. Work your way through the system until you spot the zone where the water pressure drops. The break is likely to be between that zone's main line and the end of the zone before. If some of the sprinklers in that zone are coming on at full pressure and others are low, the break is likely to be between those sprinkler heads.

Uncover The Damage

When you find the location where the leak is, you need to dig to uncover the pipes. Use caution when you're digging so that you don't cause more damage by striking a pipe or a sprinkler head. Shut off the controller for that zone so that you don't have any water flowing through the pipe. Use a trowel or something small if necessary so that you don't risk damaging the lines that run between the sprinkler heads.

Repair The Break

After clearing out access to the damaged pipe, you need to replace that section. Unscrew the section of pipe if it's connected at a coupler. If it isn't, you'll need to cut the line. Use a hacksaw or a pipe cutter to do that. Insert a new section of pipe, then treat the ends with primer before applying pipe cement. Once the cement has set, you can fill the space back in with soil. Make sure that you fill the area beneath the pipe completely first, otherwise you risk collapsing the pipe with the weight of the soil above it.

If you've never dealt with a sprinkler system leak before, it can be a confusing and intimidating problem. With the information here, you'll be able to isolate the source of the problem and potentially patch it yourself. Talk with your local sprinkler system repair technician, such as those at Sergio's Lawn Service, for more help if you need it.