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Tips for Fixing Outdoor Water Leaks for Fix a Leak Week

Fix a Leak Week is a great time to get it done! 

Warren Gorowitz, Ewing's Vice President of Sustainability, shares some tips below to prevent, find and fix those outdoor water leaks. 

Warren Gorowitz Warren Gorowitz

What is Fix a Leak Week?

Fix a Leak Week is held each year in March to remind us to check our household water fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks.

It's a great way for the green industry to bring some attention to how important it is to use water wisely and not waste it. After all, an irrigation leak as small as 1/32-inch can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month!

What can be done to prevent outdoor water leaks?

Making sure your irrigation system is in good condition can always help prevent leaks. And any new or updated irrigation system should have three things installed to prevent water waste from leaks: a smart controller, a master valve and a flow sensor.

Master valves are placed before any zone valves. In case of a water line break or a valve that won’t close, the master valve can shut off the water supply to prevent wasted water.

Many smart irrigation controllers are now capable of letting you know when there are irrigation leaks in the system with the help of a flow meter or flow sensor. These new technologies are more affordable than ever before and make it easy to prevent damaging leaks.

What are some common causes of irrigation leaks? 

In cold climates it's especially important to check for leaks caused by freeze damage when you start up an irrigation system for the first time that season.

Irrigation valves are one of the most common components that are prone to leaking. It's also common to have leaks along the irrigation main line. Both can waste a lot of water if not addressed promptly.

A missing sprinkler nozzle causes an obvious leak and a sprinkler can leak if the seal is worn out or if rocks and debris cause a blockage.

A broken sprinkler or valve can cause a large leak. A broken sprinkler or valve can cause a large leak.

Another common leak is caused by low head drainage. This takes place on the lowest lying outlet on your irrigation system and can be solved by using sprinklers and drip-line with built in check valves.

If you see a small water stream shooting in the air from a drip zone, it probably means that a drip emitter has blown off the line. This can be easily fixed by re-inserting an emitter or by plugging the leak with a goof plug and adding a new emitter to the line.

How can I find other irrigation system leaks?

Anytime you're on site, check for any obvious leaks.

Start with the backflow device where the check valves can get clogged and leak constantly. Then check for areas of standing water or mud throughout the site.

PRIMG IR Valve TroubleshootingIt's also possible that a leak could reduce the performance of your irrigation system, causing lower pressure in the irrigation system.

It's also a good idea to look for leaks while you are running irrigation zones.

Open up the valve boxes as well. If you see standing water in the valve box while no irrigation is running, you might have a leaky valve.

What tools or products are useful for fixing leaks?

Depending on the leak, it may be as easy as replacing a valve diaphragm or a missing nozzle on a sprinkler.

A screwdriver might be necessary to disassemble the irrigation valve. It's also helpful to have replacement parts readily available before you make the repair (such as irrigation valve diaphragms, solenoids, etc.) but sometimes it’s easier and less expensive to install an entire new valve than to replace faulty parts.

Slip-fixes are a great tool to use for making PVC irrigation line repairs, as are compression couplings.

Do you have a question about outdoor water leaks? Tell us in the comments below. 

For more resources and information about fixing leaks, be sure to visit the EPA WaterSense Fix a Leak Week website.

TAGS: Fixing Leaks, Water Conservation