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My Blog

September 2011

Sprinkler Fiascos

I have recently been asked to respond to a number of "yard sprinkler emergencies" in my area where pressurized lines burst or the primary side of the valve began leaking and then burst causing flooding.
 It appears that three different circumstances apply here. First, the valves were not installed properly in the first place and always "leaked". So in time, moss and plant material grew around the leak and eventually caused it to burst. Second, Small trees or shrubs with major roots were planted over the sprinkler lines or right next to the valves which in time caused a break or failure. And third, shut off valves were not installed for the sprinkler system at all. 
Here's my advice to anyone checking a sprinkler system in their yard.
  1. Make sure you have a valve that isolates the sprinkler system from the rest of your house water so you can stop the leak or flood without having to shut down the rest of the house. It also needs to be located outdoors and near the sprinkler valves so anyone can gain access to it.
  2. Check for leaks around your yard and around the feed side (the pressurized side) of all the sprinkler valves (above ground). The leak could be so small that you can't see it but you can feel it at the pipe or connector. ALL tiny leaks turn into big leaks or cause complete pipe failure eventually.
  3. Look for muddy or damp areas that never dry up or areas of heavy growth surrounded by dry areas that are not growing as well or not at all.
  4. Make sure your shrubs, trees or other plants that may be near the valves are cut back and remove anything thats starting to get too big around the valves.
Sprinkler valve installations are great for do it yourself types but I must stress the following. If you do it yourself, ALWAYS read and follow the manufacturers reccomendations for installation. Especially when it relates to preparation, types of glues and sealants and when to use pipe sealing tape(s).  And always lay out, "dry fit" and " line in" ( mark all the parts where they join ) before you do any gluing. Once it's glued, it can-not be forced to fit if it's a bit off line.
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