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Gold Trusted Contributor
Dag44
Posts: 2,884
Registered: ‎02-17-2009
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How can you tell if your sprinkler system is leaking? UPDATE!

[ Edited ]

Hi All - Once again I'm hoping all you veteran homeowners will come to my rescue!

 

I suspect I have a leak in my sprinkler system in the back yard but I don't know how to figure that out for sure without digging up the entire back yard. I suspect a leak because, for one, my grass back there was unusually wet last month despite the fact that I had the sprinklers turned off for most of the month and also I got my water bill the other day and it was $83.77 and last year when I didn't have the sprinklers on for most of the month it was in the $50.00 something range. Since I do have a small slope there is a possibility that the neighbor behind me could have a problem that's affecting me but I already approached him while he was hanging Xmas lights up about 3 weeks ago and he said he didn't think there was a problem with his system but that he would turn down his sprinklers nonetheless.

 

The weird part of it all is that it isn't just one area in my back yard - it's the entire yard - that's why I'm unsure if I actually have a leak or it's something being caused by my neighbor.

 

It has been suggested to me that I turn each station on manually and watch to see if one station has poor water pressure, which could indicate a leak. I have done this and I don't see any obvious evidence of poor water pressure. There is also no water around any of the main valves. Of course, gardeners are nearly worthless in helping with this issue. My dad is coming on the 16th and has promised to help me with this but I really don't want to wait that long to figure this situation out. I'd really like to learn how to figure this out on my own so I don't have to once again pay somebody an arm and a leg to do something simple related to my home.

Gold Regular Contributor
amydevemma
Posts: 2,169
Registered: ‎04-23-2009
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Re: How can you tell if your sprinkler system is leaking?

First of all, Merry Christmas to you and your family Dag. :smileyhappy:

 

My water bill is higher this year than last as well. I had a broken pipe in the sprinkler system which was fixed three months ago, but the bill is still higher. I checked with the water company, and they said my usage is the same, but the rates are higher than last year.

 

If you can, check on your bill to see if your usage is the same this year as last year. If it's higher, then you're right, you have a leak somewhere. If it's the same, then there was a rate hike at some point. Good luck!

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amydevemma
Posts: 2,169
Registered: ‎04-23-2009
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Re: How can you tell if your sprinkler system is leaking?

BTW, my rate hike was significant... it's up from about $45 a month to $55. 

 

Oh I just remembered another thing to look at... is your sewer bill on your water bill as well? My sewer bill is part of my city taxes here in Fontana, but when I was in Upland the sewer bill was on the water bill. When there was a lot of rain, my water bill would actually go up because they charge you on the amount of water that goes into the sewer... I don't understand why, but that's how they did it. 

Gold Regular Contributor
amydevemma
Posts: 2,169
Registered: ‎04-23-2009
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Re: How can you tell if your sprinkler system is leaking?

I never answered the original question... I'm so scatterbrained. Too much coffee and too many donuts! 

 

It was fairly easy to tell that I had a broken pipe because the ground was always wet in that spot, even if I hadn't run the sprinkler for a few days.

Gold Trusted Contributor
Dag44
Posts: 2,884
Registered: ‎02-17-2009
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Re: How can you tell if your sprinkler system is leaking?

Hi Amy - Merry Xmas to you and your family too!

 

Yes, I took the water rate hikes into consideration since it seems like they raise them every few months and yes my bill is showing that I'm using more water than last year and yes my sewer is on my water bill too.

 

According to my bill, when it was read on Dec. 20, 2009, I had used 11220 gallons in 32 days - when it was read on Dec.21, 2010, it said I had used 12716 gallons in 31 days.

 

When read on Nov. 19, 2009, I had used 14960 gallons in 30 days and when read on Nov. 19, 2010, I had used 17204 gallons in 30 days.

 

When read on Oct. 20, 2009, I had used 18700 gallons in 32 days and when read on Oct. 20, 2010, I had used 19448 gallons in 29 days.

 

Now, I had the water main break out front on Oct. 6, 2010, and I have no idea how long that may have been leaking before the water finally burst through the ground and grass and became an obvious flood but the water company credited me I think $72.00 for that excess water usage. Also, I obviously can't remember how much I was using the sprinklers in Oct, Nov, and Dec of '09 as compared to this year.

 

 

Gold Trusted Contributor
Dag44
Posts: 2,884
Registered: ‎02-17-2009
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Re: How can you tell if your sprinkler system is leaking?

[ Edited ]

That's my predicament, Amy - it's the whole yard that's really soggy, not just one spot. Who fixed your broken pipe? I bet there is a such thing as water leak detection equipment too - no doubt that costs an arm and a leg too.

 

P.S. - I told my husband I was just gonna dig up the whole **bleep** yard and thrown down some gravel like they do in Arizona and Nevada, lol.

Platinum Super Contributor
Nanomug
Posts: 10,421
Registered: ‎05-30-2009
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Re: How can you tell if your sprinkler system is leaking?

Most areas had rate hikes. Sewer charges are based on the amount of water used which means paying for sewer for outside watering.  Water companies now allow a second meter for outside watering.  Since adding a meter is very expensive I didn't pursue it.  My cousin has two meters because they have acres of orchards.

 

One way to tell if there is a leak is to turn on each station of the sprinkler system and see if all sprinklers have enough pressure.  If there is a leak the water pressure will go down significantly past the leak. 

 

One of the things I did with the sprinkler system was to diagram where the sprinklers are and what station they are on. I used 4x6 index cards and put them next to the control panel.  This is a rough diagram not to scale.  It makes it easier to figure out which stations to increase/decrease.  

 

 

Contributor
OgreB
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎07-20-2009
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Re: How can you tell if your sprinkler system is leaking?

They easyiest way i know to check for a leak is to make sure all the water in your house is turned off and you have nothing running like toilets or washing machines. Once you know everthing is off go look at the water meter at the street. If you see the little triangle spinning at all you have a leak. You might have to clean the meter a bit to see it. But if you want to test to see what it looks like spining just turn on a hose. So if your sure everthing is off and it moving you have a leak somewhere.

Silver Contributor
Sammy555
Posts: 411
Registered: ‎05-18-2010
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Re: How can you tell if your sprinkler system is leaking?

I concur with OgreB. The key to diagnosing your problem is to use your main water meter which is usually located under a concrete cover in the sidewalk/street in front of your house. Note the meter readings while opening up the various valves associated with your sprinkler system and you should be able to localize which branch of your sprinkler system has the leak. Depending on the size of the leak, the needle/triangle on the meter may or may not be spinning. However, if you note the meter reading, and wait for, say, 10 minutes, and then check the meter reading again, you should be able to tell how much water has flowed and whether there is a leak in that branch.
Gold Trusted Contributor
Dag44
Posts: 2,884
Registered: ‎02-17-2009
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Re: How can you tell if your sprinkler system is leaking? UPDATE!

[ Edited ]

Ogre and Sammy - I'll go out front in the morning and lift off the cover and look at the water meter again. I didn't see a needle/triangle the first time I looked at but I'll look again. The only thing I saw was the actual number reader. I'll pass on to my husband what you both said. Thanks much.

 

 

OKAY - So, I went and watched the water meter again and now I see what you mean about the little red circle that spins. I watched it for about 5 minutes and it didn't move and then I asked my husband to flush the toilet and it started spinning really fast - at least now I know how fast it spins when water is being used - I had no clue what to look for before so thank you all very much for bringing that to my attention. So, since it wasn't moving at all until hubby flushed the toilet does that mean for sure that I don't have a leak in my back yard sprinkler system?