The Best Way How To Find A Leak In Your Landscape Irrigation System

A sprinkler head spraying water amongst green vegetation.

Whether you use sprinkler systems or drip irrigation systems for your landscape, a leak can be a severe problem for your total water usage. Leaks also waste water that should be going to landscape irrigation.

So what should you do? The first step is identifying where the leak originates from in the entire system.

The next step is to repair it yourself or get a professional irrigation repair.

Keep reading to discover the eight signs of leaks in irrigation systems.

8 Signs Of A Leak

1. Pooling water. If you see any areas of standing water in your lawn or garden, you likely have a leak in your landscape irrigation system

2. Wet spots on concrete or pavement. Another clue that your irrigation may have a leak is if you see any wet spots on concrete or pavement surfaces near your landscape irrigation systems

3. Wilting or yellowing plants. Dying plants could be a sign that they’re not getting enough water to their root systems because of a leak in the system

4. Damaged pipes. Take a look at the pipes that make up your landscape irrigation systems. Are they cracked or damaged in any way? If so, this could be causing water to leak out of the irrigation system

5. Damaged sprinkler heads. Make sure that the sprinkler heads are intact and not broken or cracked, as this could also cause water to leak out of the system. This is why it is so important to maintain your sprinkler system.

6. If you’ve noticed that your water bill has increased significantly and you can’t explain why it could be due to a leak in your landscape irrigation systems

7. Foundation cracks. While many things can cause foundation cracks, one of them is excessive moisture in the soil around your home’s foundation.

8. Soggy areas in flower beds or gardens. Like foundation cracks, soggy areas in flower beds or gardens can also be caused by excessive moisture in the soil—which could be due to a leaky pipe underground

Locating The Source Of The Leak

Checking the Sprinkler System Heads

First, turn off the water to your irrigation systems at the main valve. Shutting off the water will ensure that you don’t accidentally spray yourself (or anyone else) while you’re working on checking the irrigation system.

Next, locate all of the sprinkler system heads. Once you’ve found them, turn each one on individually to see if water is coming out. 

If water is coming out of the sprinkler head, that means there’s no leak in that particular section of the system. However, if no water is coming out of the sprinkler head, that could indicate a leak somewhere between that sprinkler system head and the main valve. 

You’ll need to use a string tracer or similar device to pinpoint the leak’s location. Once you’ve located the leak, repair it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Inspecting Supply Lines

An exposed sprinkler head in a hole in the ground with a gloved hand reaching toward the pipe.

First things first:

  1. Shut off the water to your landscape irrigation systems
  2. Begin inspecting each section of pipe, starting with the mainline and moving on to the laterals
  3. Check for cracks, gaps, or leaks at every joint and fitting
  4. Once you’ve located the source of the leak, mark it with tape or a marker so you can easily find it again later

If you find a wet spot, dig around it with a shovel until you reach the suspect pipe. If the line is moist, you likely have a leak. Once you’ve located the leak, turn off the water supply to the landscape irrigation system and call a professional to make the repair. 

Inspecting Valves

First, identify which zone or zones are leaking. To do this, turn on your irrigation systems controller and observe which valves are leaking water. Once you’ve determined which valve or valves are causing the leak, turn off the power to the controller and proceed to the next step. 

Next, look at the solenoid on the valve that is leaking water. The solenoid is the part of the valve that controls the flow of water through the valve. With the power to the controller turned off, unscrew the solenoid and inspect it for any damage. If you see any cracks or breaks in the solenoid, it will need to be replaced. 

If the solenoid looks intact, reattach it to the valve and turn on the power to the controller. Listen for any hissing sounds coming from the valve—if you hear any, there’s a break somewhere in the valve itself, and it will need to be replaced. If you don’t hear any hissing, chances are there’s something wrong with your controller, and you’ll need to call a professional for assistance. 

Tracing the Irrigation Lines

An irrigation line partially visible in the soil.

Turn off the water to your landscape irrigation system. Shutting down the water supply will ensure that you don’t cause further damage while trying to locate the leak.

Begin at the point where the water enters your landscape irrigation system. Use a shovel or other tool to excavate around the area to get a good look at all the pipes and connections. Look for any signs of leaks, such as dampness or pooling water.

If you don’t see any signs of leaks at this point, begin tracing the irrigation lines away from the point where the water enters the system. Check all of the connections and fittings along the way for any signs of leaks. Once you’ve located the leak, turn off the valve that controls that section of the pipe so that you can make repairs.

Examining Groundwater Levels

If you suspect you have a leak in your landscape irrigation system, the best way to confirm it is to measure the groundwater level around your property. To do this, you’ll need a long stick (at least 5 feet), and something to mark the groundwater level with (a piece of tape or chalk will do). 

First, find an area away from buildings or trees where you can get an unobstructed view of the surrounding area. Then, insert the stick into the ground until fully submerged; use the tape or chalk to mark the groundwater level on the stick. Repeat this process in several different locations around your property. If the levels are all within 6 inches of each other, then you probably don’t have a leak; however, if there is a significant difference between the levels (more than 6 inches), you will likely have a problem. 

Leak Detection Tools

Moisture Meter

A moisture meter stuck in the ground.

This tool is exactly what it sounds like—a meter that detects moisture. To use a moisture meter, insert the probes into the ground where you think the leak might be coming from and wait for the reading. If the reading is high, that’s a good indication there’s a leak nearby. 

Acoustic Listening Device

An acoustic listening device is another helpful tool for detecting leaks. To use this device, you’ll need to attach the microphone to a long rod and insert it into the ground. Once the microphone is in place, turn on the device and listen for the sound of moving water. 

Hydrogen Sensors

Hydrogen sensors are placed in an area where you think there might be a leak and left for 24 to 48 hours. If there’s an underground leak, hydrogen gas will seep up through the ground and be detected by the sensor.

Quickly Find And Fix Your Landscape Irrigation Leak Using Simmons Landscape & Irrigation’s Services

If you see any of these signs, it’s time to call a professional for landscape irrigation repair and leak detection. Don’t wait until the damage is done – fill out our contact form today, and we’ll get in touch to schedule a consultation.

Whether you use sprinkler heads, drip irrigation systems, or even smart irrigation controllers, we can help you keep your landscape looking beautiful all year long!