How to fix common irrigation leaks

Irrigation systems can leak for a number of reasons, resulting in unnecessary water loss. Drippers can block up or blow off, joints can leak, poppers can stop popping up and pipes can split.

Advice:

It's a good idea to get an expert irrigator to audit your irrigation system and give you some gardening advice - you can get a Garden Tune Up which includes a free irrigation audit and water efficient gardening advice, including up to $50 of on-the-spot repairs  Then keep your irrigation working at it's best by regularly checking it to make sure leaks are kept to a minimum.  Here are a few things to watch out for, and some advice to help you:

  • If your drippers are blowing off, your pipes continually split or your joints just don’t seem to stay together, it’s probably a sign that you have too much pressure running through your irrigation lines.  You can buy in-line pressure reducers or regulators to help keep your system together.  Reducers work by reducing the water pressure, and regulators set the pressure to a certain level.  Estimate how many drippers you have on the line and visit your local garden shop for some advice on which option (reducer or regulator) would best suit your situation.
  • Sometimes, when dripper lines get to a certain age, they can become brittle and leaks can keep reappearing. If that’s the situation in your garden, there is not much else you can do but to pull them all out and start again.  
  • Leaks in your lawn irrigation system can reduce water pressure, causing your pop-ups to stop popping up!  The type of pipe you have connecting your pop-ups can affect how easy or hard these leaks are to fix. These pipes could be white PVC, or the more DIY user friendly black polypipe.  Often it’s easier to call in an expert irrigator to fix leaking pop-ups, don't forget to ask about a free Garden Tune Up.
  • If you see water trickling out of your sprinkler even though that station is off, chances are you have a blocked solenoid valve.  Check for debris or sediment stuck inside the valve - this is the most common issue.  If you see a pool of water around the valve, it could be broken. Note, the pool of water could be due to a broken pipe, so be sure to check both before replacing any parts.

Quick tips

  • Look out for areas in your garden that are too wet or green. This is a sure sign of a leak! 
  • Turn on your irrigation and walk along your line to look for leaks. If your irrigation lines are buried, listen for escaping water or look for soggy patches. 
  • When cutting pipes, make sure the cuts are nice and square so they join easily to other pipes.
  • If using joiners, push the pipes on as far as they go for a good seal.
  • Turn your irrigation off in the wet season, but once a week turn it on for a few minutes.  This helps stop blockages and flushes ants and other insects that might inhabit and damage your pipes or irrigation lines.  
  • Always check your system for leaks before switching it on after the wet season, it's often the case that leaks pop up that can waste a lot of water if undetected. 

3 Step Leak Check

It’s a good idea to do the 3-step leak every few months. Perhaps set yourself a reminder, such as when your bill arrives.

Step 1: Ask people in your home not to use water while you do the test, and make sure that there is no water being used in your home i.e. that the washing machine or the irrigation is not on.

Step 2: Go to your water meter and take a reading of the last two red digits on your water meter - write down or take a photo of the reading.

Step 3: Wait 5 minutes – remember not to use any water during this time. Take a reading of the last two digits in red. If there was any movement of the dial, you may have a leak - even the smallest movement can add up to a lot of wasted water over a year.

Did your meter move? This could indicate that you may have a hidden leak. Contact a Plumber to help you get it fixed.  

Living Water Smart's Garden Tune Up provides a free garden irrigation audit at your home or business by one of our registered irrigation experts. The irrigator will reprogram your irrigation controller to provide your garden with the water it needs, when it needs it. It also includes up to $50 of on-the-spot irrigation repairs.