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When it comes to maintaining a healthy, lush green lawn, a sprinkler system is a lifesaver.
However, having a broken sprinkler pipe can rob you of your joy.
Muddy pools can ruin your beautiful landscape. Plus, you can get dry patches on one side because the water can’t get through to all the sprinkler heads.
The most horrifying part of it all is that water leaks will make your water bill obscenely high.
The only solution is to find the broken sprinkler pipe and plug the water leak before the bills get out of hand.
Let’s talk about how to find the exact location of a damaged pipe.
Tracing the leak is the only way to find the cracked pipe. Here’s how you can follow the leak to get to the damaged pipe.
The first step to locate a leak is to understand how the underground irrigation lines in your sprinkler system are laid out.
If you’re lucky, the people who installed your system might have given you a map of the entire system. If you don’t have the irrigation system plan, you will have to do a bit of digging to figure out how the system is laid out.
Thankfully, you don’t have to dig out the whole yard. If you know these basic facts about irrigation system installation, you’ll have an idea of where to start digging:
To locate the first pipe, dig near the valve boxes and areas close to the sprinkler heads. Once you unearth the first pipe, keep mapping your system. Use tape or spray paint to mark the rest of the pipe layout.
You can dig again after 2–3 feet to confirm you are in the right direction.
Tip: Dig very carefully and hold your shovel at an angle to the ground (don’t hit straight down) to avoid hitting the pipes.
Now that you know the layout of the pipes, it’s time to single out the area where the underground leak is coming from. You can either dig or use more sophisticated sound detecting tools.
Each zone on the sprinkler system is connected to the water supply separately. To identify the area where leaks happen, you will need to shut off water to the irrigation system to let the ground dry up.
You can also isolate a leak if you pay attention to the sounds of water flowing through the pipes. This requires specialized equipment like:
Use these specialized tools to listen for the sound of an underground leak along the irrigation lines. Follow the spray-painted areas that you marked out before.
How do sound tools work?
The science behind noise detecting and acoustic tools is based on soundwaves. The devices are designed with a highly sensitive transducer (that’s the part that can “hear” the sound waves).
They can detect the difference in the sound of the water flow inside a pressurized sprinkler pipe. Much like how you can hear a hissing sound when the watering hose is broken.
These tools can pick up on the disruption in the normal flow of water even when the soil covers the pipes.
Leak noise correlators are the most sensitive. They can pinpoint the exact location of a leak by using algorithms to calculate the distances it takes to get from the sensors to the leaking pipe.
Using noise detecting tools makes locating damaged pipes an easy one-person task. It’s faster, and there’s less digging involved.
However, the catch is that these specialized devices for pinpointing underground pipe leaks are usually highly technical, and you will have to do some research to understand the readings.
Once you’ve pinpointed the leak, dig to expose the pipe and confirm the position of the damage.
Watch this video for a detailed guide.
Note: Whichever option you choose to locate the leak, you should know that leaks can be tricky. The position where you see the water leak is not always the exact place where the pipe is broken.
You will have to inspect the pipe several inches on either side of the point where you spotted the leak to locate the cracked pipe.
Once you’ve located the pipe, it’s no good to leave it like that. You have to take care of it quickly. Apart from the obvious water bill situation, underground leaks can cause a lot more water-related damage to your house. For instance:
Here’s how you can repair the pipe before the leak wreaks havoc on your home:
And that’s it, your cracked pipe and water leaking problem is sorted.
Tip: Cut out the lawn on the parts you want to repair into small square patches making sure not to disturb the roots. Ensure to carefully lift the grass patches with the soil and roots intact.
Once you’re done, you can simply replace the patch of grass, and it will grow right back as if nothing happened.
Your sprinkler system is an investment worth protecting. Once you’ve handled the problem with the pipe and fixed the leak, seize the opportunity to check for any other issues with your system and replace any worn parts.
Take a look at the sprinkler heads to rule out any leaking heads. You can do this by putting a cap on each sprinkler head and turning the sprinkler stations on. If the sprinkler heads are working well, the cap prevents water from coming out.
If you notice any water leaking out, you may need to readjust or change the leaking sprinkler head.
You should also check if the sprinkler valve system works the way it should. Close the valve box and open the main water supply to release water into the irrigation system.
If the valves are leaking, you will notice some water coming out of the closed valves, and you’ll need to replace the valves with a new set.
If you need any help figuring out the best replacement parts like your sprinkler valves, irrigation controller, and other sprinkler system parts, turn to the Sprinkler Supply Store. We are happy to help you figure out how to keep your system in tip-top shape.
"Absolutely one of the best in the business! The sales staff has come through for me on multiple occasions with advice on replacement parts and technical information on the operation of my sprinkler system." — Peter Staire
Contact the Sprinkler Supply Store today for all your sprinkler part needs.