Summer vacations are mostly through, and that means as you relish these last few weeks of summer, you’re spending tons of time in your yard.
As you look around the property checking on your favorite plants or enjoying your outdoor rooms, you may notice some quirks with your irrigation system.
An automatic sprinkler system saves you time and money in the landscape because you can set your system to water exactly when your plants need it. But if your sprinkler system isn’t working properly, you may not be realizing these important savings.
This is why it’s crucial to keep your system running right.
So paying attention when you think your irrigation system might have a problem is crucial. Leaks can be some of the more common problems that happen in a system.
Have you noticed overgrown plants or extra green grass areas? What about soggy areas around sprinkler heads?
Maybe you’re seeing jammed spray heads or even an extremely dry-looking area.
Areas that are continuously wet or excessively wet after or between watering cycles need to be addressed quickly. These symptoms can all point to signs that you may have some small sprinkler system leaks that you need to take care of.
Here are some common problems and sprinkler system repair tips.
Sprinkler System Repair #1:
Low Head Drainage
Water that flows onto your sidewalk or curb after the sprinklers turn off but then stops after a few minutes is due to a phenomenon called low head drainage. This typically occurs when the sprinkler system is installed on a sloped area.
Even a change in elevation of less than 1 foot can create low head drainage. What this means is that after the sprinklers turn off, the water in the pipes drains out through the lowest sprinkler heads and is then replaced with air.
The simplest way to tell if you have low head drainage is to watch the sprinklers when they turn on. If they spit and spew air when the valve turns on, this is usually a sign of low head drainage.
To fix low head drainage, you can install a check valve in sprinkler heads located in lower elevations on the landscape. These work like reverse plungers, stopping the drainage after the system shuts off.
Check valves cost $2 to $3 per sprinkler head, plus the cost of a service call. Service calls are typically $65 for the first half hour and then $65 per hour after that, billed in 15-minute increments. So, for example, the first hour will cost $97.50 and then the second hour is $65.
Sprinkler System Repair #2:
A Leaky Valve
If you have water flowing from a sprinkler head continuously, even when the sprinkler system is off, then the problem could be a leaky valve.
The big difference between low head drainage and a leaky valve is that low head drainage results in water flowing from the sprinklers located in the lowest locations for a while after they run but stops once the pipes are drained.
Whereas if a valve is leaking, the water may run out of sprinkler heads all of the time. Puddles of water around sprinkler heads are signs of leaky valves.
To fix a leaky valve, you disassemble the valve, clean it, replace any bad parts and then reassemble it. Usually dirt, gravel or a rock is stuck in the valve causing it to stick open.
On your sprinkler system, each valve box comes with three or four valves per box. When you dig up the valve box, it’s usually a good time to check all four valves since you’ve already done the major work to check them.
Fixing a valve typically costs just service labor time. Replacing a valve entirely will usually cost between $125 to $155 per 1 inch valve, including labor and parts.
Sprinkler System Repair #3:
A Bubble In The Lawn
If you notice a bubble in your lawn that can be as big as 10 feet around and feels like you’re walking on a waterbed when you stroll across it, then you most likely have a broken pipe or a sprinkler head has broken off of the riser.
When this happens, it separates the grass from the dirt below, causing this bubble.
In this case, you need to dig up and expose the pipe to fix the problem. Usually, the cost is only service call time plus roughly $10 in parts. Resolving a sprinkler system leak like this might take approximately one to one-and-one-half hours.
Sprinkler System Repair #4:
Sometimes extra water and leaking isn’t your problem.
If you see dry patches around a sprinkler head or in that sprinkler head’s zone, it could mean that sprinkler isn’t popping up.
This is a problem that has to do with pressure. A broken sprinkler head can cause the system to lose pressure.
To fix this problem, your cost is usually service call time plus sprinkler head replacement, which is approximately $15 to $25 for the part.
Troubleshooting Your Sprinkler System Problems
Sprinkler system leaks are no fun. They waste water and cause inconsistent growth in your landscape, as well as unattractive puddling.
And while the solutions to these problems sound relatively simple, sprinkler systems are actually quite complicated pieces of landscape equipment.
If you notice any leaking, puddling, bubbling or strange overgrowth in your landscape, Outback Landscape can help determine the source of your problem, and, with a simple and relatively inexpensive fix, your irrigation system could be running like new again.
Contact our Idaho Falls irrigation experts at 208-656-3220 or fill out the contact form to set up a no-obligation meeting to troubleshoot sprinkler system issues on your property.
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Image Credit: Sprinkler Umbrella