Calling All Detectives: How To Solve The Case Of The Broken Sprinkler

Is your lawn feeling a little soggy?  Are there mysterious puddles?  Problems with your sprinkler heads or pipes can wreak havoc on your landscaping.   However, a super sprinkler sleuth can quickly solve the case of the broken sprinkler:

Find the Problem

A good detective always investigates.  To find the problematic sprinkler or pipe, you'll need to look for clues to find the source of the problem:

  • Lack of water: Check to make sure the sprinkler heads are not clogged, broken, or missing.  In the case of a clogged sprinkler, little or no water will come out of the nozzle when you turn the sprinkler systems on.  Another clue is an uneven spray.
  • Spots: Any big wet spots on your lawn are clues that your sprinkler system may have a leak.  Even a hole as small as a pen tip can waste over 6,000 gallons of water each month.  If you suspect a leak, but can't find the source, you can put a cap on every sprinkler head.  This will restrict water flow.  When you turn on your sprinklers, you can then see where water emerges through the soil.

Fixing the Problem

Once you've found the problem, it's time solve it.  Before taking action, make sure to turn off your sprinkler system as you make the fixes:

  • Fixing the broken sprinkler head: Dig down to the riser, the vertical pipe that shoots off from the main pipe, and clear away any dirt from it.  Next, unscrew it counterclockwise and remove the head or stem.  Finally, screw in the replacement.
  • Fixing a clogged sprinkler head: Use some stiff wire to clear the hole.  If the head is extremely dirty, you may want to unscrew it and then run running water over it.  While the head is off, remove any grass or dirt from the sprinkler sleeve.
  • Fixing the sprinkler pipe: Once you've found the broken pipe, you'll need to put your skills to the test to fix it.  First, dig a hole that reaches three inches below the pipe and has at least six inches of room to work on either side.  Then, using a hacksaw, you should cut out a 4-inch section of the pipe at the leak's source.  After that, use a slip coupling, an extendable piece of pipe, to bridge the gap between the two sides of the line.  Use a clamp on both sides of the line to make sure the new connection won't leak.   

Now that you've fixed the problem, you can close the case. Congratulations on a job well done super sprinkler sleuths!