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Lawn & Garden

How to Detect Leaks in Your In-ground Sprinkler System

Since much of your home's automatic sprinkler system components are located underground with gallons of water regularly cursing through, how do you know if a leak occurs? In addition to wasting water, in-ground sprinkler system leaks can damage your lawn and garden if they aren’t caught and repaired quickly. Depending on your sprinkler system design, you likely have valves and water lines that run throughout your lawn and landscape that are prone to leaking issues.  Unless you installed a DIY sprinkler system, you may not know precisely where those lines and valves are located.

Repairmen fixing sprinkler system

Related: Smith's Smart Home Part II: Sprinkler Controller Installation

Spot Leaks in Your In-ground Sprinkler System 

-Look at the differences in water pressure and if the system is spraying low water pressure when it is on

-Mold and mildew on the lawn or grass and plant damage caused by fungus

-Areas that are much greener above the water lines or around the sprinkler heads of your system 

-Water bubbling up when the system is running or a depressed, sunken area in your lawn

-Small holes in your yard

-A sprinkler system line that sprays dirty water

-Signs of animal damage or digging that could cause a leak

Fix a Leak in Your Sprinkler System 

Many leaks can be fixed without professional intervention, saving you a tons on sprinkler system costs.

Step 1: Look for sprinkler heads that don’t spray properly or have low water flow

First, you must locate the leak. If you think the leak is in a water line, look for sprinkler heads in a zone that aren't working or that have very low pressure. You’ll likely find the leak or water line issue somewhere between a working sprinkler head and several non-working ones, especially if that area stays wet and soggy

Step 2: Dig Until you Find the Issue 

After you’ve found the leak, carefully dig until you find the component that’s causing the issue (contact your utility company before you start digging). In some cases, you may just need to tighten a clamp or joint, or maybe replace a damaged or torn seal or valve. In some cases, you may need to replace an entire section of pipe.

Step 3: Minimize Leak Issues with Proper Maintenance 

To minimize leak issues, make sure to operate and maintain your in-ground sprinkler system properly. 

Observe all the zones in operation at least weekly during watering months to watch for heads that aren’t spraying correctly and to make sure that the heads are positioned to supply adequate water to all areas of your lawn and garden. Take care when operating lawn mowers and other equipment around sprinkler heads, and keep vehicles off the grass.  Check your control panel regularly to make sure the settings are correct and pay attention to the water pressure when the system is operating.  Keeping a close eye on your automatic irrigation system will help you nip small problems in the bud before they become big ones.


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