Experience tells us no matter how pricy or high-quality your sprinklers are, one day, there will be a valve leak. This is one of the most common problems that occur in a sprinkler system, and it needs immediate attention from the user.
Leaks can cost you a lot more than you might realize, as it can waste a huge amount of water. If left unrepaired, the number of wasted gallons adds up over time. Leaks can emerge from a lot of things such as faulty heads or sprinkler valves, wrong positioning, cracks, accidentally damaging the system, etc.
To solve any sprinkler irrigation system issue, you have to know exactly what is causing the problem before moving on to repair or replace the pump. Read on to find out which problems you may be facing on your sprinkler and how they can be eliminated.
Signs of a sprinkler problem
These are some of the symptoms you might notice if something needs fixing:
- Uneven watering in zones
- Lack of pressure in sprinkler heads
- Sprinkler zones not turning on
- Water leaking at the sprinkler head, which is farthest from the valve zones
- Sprinkler making unusual sounds and/or spraying off-target
- Sodden lawn, and etc.
Where Is the Leak?
One has to carefully observe the system for sprinkler troubleshooting. There can be leaks on the sprinkler valve, heads, or pipes. Some of these can be easily fixed, and others need more sophisticated approaches or replacement.
Sprinkler Head Problems
Sprinkler head anomalies are often caused by damage to the heads. Lawnmowers and vehicles can run over them and form cracks or break them if they are set too high. A damaged plastic casing, broken-off spray nozzles are signs of this problem.
If a head is damaged, you have to replace it. Identify and buy the right type of head for that. The brand and model of the new head must match the previous one. Notice while the system is running if there are water puddles at the sprinkler’s extended riser’s base as this might require replacing the seal.
When a head sprays water erratically or does not spray at all, it’s probably clogged by debris. It is also possible that the leaking originated underground.
How To Repair Sprinkler Head Leaks
A clogged head needs to be cleaned right. Dig it out and remove it from the riser. Then to take it apart, unscrew the top from the canister. Next, you have to rinse the rubble away in a water bucket. Now clean the screen basket with water after removing it from the bottom. Reassembling it, return the head to the riser.
When a leak requires the spray pattern to be adjusted, make sure you know what type of head you have as different types need different approaches. So, a pop-up sprayer would not need the same treatment as a pulsating or a rotor sprinkler.
If you suspect that the head leak started underground, it needs careful inspection by digging a hole down to the riser and lateral line. Sometimes tightening the threaded connection at the head’s bottom is enough, but there can be some other issue requiring professional help.
When a Sprinkler Leak is Not a Leak
Sometimes water puddles are caused by saturated clay soil. An inappropriate watering schedule can overwater the lawn too. Inspect your controller settings to make sure. Also, a damaged zone valve or a zone valve installed backward can cause the sprinkler head farthest from it to leak.
It’s common to confuse low-head drainage with a sprinkler leak. But you can check with the valve on whether your sprinklers are spitting and hissing; in that case, it’s not a leak but low-head drainage.
Can A Sprinkler System Leak When Off?
Yes, it can. Sometimes it’s not much to worry about; other times, there are issues that need fixing. Leaking when the system is off is often because of leaky valves, but some other problems like a broken pipe can also be reasons for the water waste. Let’s take a closer look below.
· Valve Leak
The most common reasons for this are low-head drainage and a damaged rubber-diaphragm seal.
· Low-Head Drainage
It is the excess water draining from your pipes after you shut off the water. Water is drained to the lowest zone point after each run of the system. If a sprinkler head is present in the area, the water flow will persist in reaching equilibrium or until the zone pipes are empty.
This is often not something to worry about. However, if it creates pools of water over pathways or driveways, you want to install check valves like the HCV on lateral lines and sprinklers. You should not ignore if drainage happens all the time as opposed to only after turning the water off.
· A Damaged Rubber-Diaphragm Seal
This can cause water to leak through the zone valve; this cannot be solved by installing a check valve. Rubber parts in the valve box may be subjected to wear and tear.
When the seal breaks or debris prevents the valve from closing, water keeps draining all day and all week. A broken seal can cause other damages to your landscape and gets worse over time.
Fixing Sprinkler Valve Leaks
If low-head drainage is an issue, you can follow these steps to install a check valve:
- Take the internal assembly off the sprinkler body by unthreading the body cap.
- Then the assembly needs to be turned upside down so that you can get access to the opening in the riser’s bottom.
- One end of the drain check valve assembly is big and irregular in shape. Insert this end into the riser’s bottom. Make sure that the drain check valve assembly’s small rubber part stays outside of the riser.
- Finally, tighten the internal assembly into the body after replacing it.
When the zone valve causes the problem, these steps might solve it:
- Take the valve apart
- Clean all parts by rinsing with water
- Reassemble the valve
In some cases, the diaphragm assembly has to be replaced.
You might have a leaking pipe if you see depression in the ground, places flooded between sprinklers, mushroom sprouting in a particular patch, dirty water being sprayed from the line, water bubbling up between heads with the system turned on, etc.
Pipe leaks can be on the lateral lines or the mainline. If it is mainline, turn the water supply off immediately. Waterline breaks can cause over-watering and soil erosion, but they are hard to locate and fix. It’s better to let experts solve this problem.
Proper Maintenance Sprinkler System
Maintaining your sprinkler system will keep many irrigation problems at bay. For that, remember to follow these tips:
· Examine Regularly
Make sure to examine at least a few times each season. Better still, do it each month if you can. Check the controller and electric connections. Change the watering schedule according to seasons. Then turn on the individual zones and inspect for damage.
· Flush the Sprinkler System
The system should be flushed at the start of the season. Prevent debris from blocking the nozzles by flushing the system’s initial point.
· Take Care of The Sprinkler Heads
Install the heads correctly, and don’t place them too high. Be careful not to damage them while using a lawnmower. Setting the heads up on swing pipes is a good idea; this makes them less susceptible.
There’s no use in paying a fortune for leaks; so, address them ASAP. But be certain that you know what you are doing when it comes to fixing these or call a licensed irrigation specialist for help. Here’s to a perfect lawn!