Irrigation Repair: How to Diagnose 6 Common Problems

Catch Problems with Your Sprinkler System Early to Prevent Costly Repairs Later

Your sprinkler system will occasionally need irrigation repair to make sure your lawn and garden thrive. Root causes of these problems are often buried underground and include:

  • Loose fittings
  • Glue joint failures
  • Broken pipes
  • Malfunctioning valves

Here are six common symptoms that indicate a problem with your irrigation system. Keep an eye out for:

  1. Geyser effect
  2. Wet or muddy patches
  3. Dry spots around trees
  4. Over-watered plants
  5. Popped-up sprinkler heads
  6. Sprinklers running in the rain

Irrigation Repair: How to Diagnose 6 Common Problems

1. Irrigation Repair Symptom:
Geyser Effect

If your sprinkler system starts running and you notice a sudden geyser of water instead of a uniform spray, you’ve got a broken sprinkler head. Instead of being diffused through the head, water is spewing directly from the pipe. Here’s a video showing what to look for.

This problem could happen if a mower cut a sprinkler head. Sometimes, kids or pets may also step on or damage a sprinkler head. Regardless, you need an irrigation repair visit to get your system fixed.

Sprinkler System Repair: 2 Kinds of Irrigation Leaks

2. Irrigation Repair Symptom:
Wet or Muddy Patches

If your yard is developing muddy patches in unexpected places, this could indicate a mainline leak. These types of leaks are continuous– water is leaking 24/7, whether your sprinkler system is running or not. You may even see your water bill increase. You’ll want to get this leak repaired right away before permanent damage is done to your lawn. We’ve even seen damaging erosion from this type of leak.

This problem could happen if you’ve had heavy equipment in your yard, compressing the soil, or an installation/manufacturing error that took some time to present itself. It could also be from digging near the mainline.

3. Irrigation Repair Symptom:
Dry Spots around Trees

If you see dry spots around your trees, it means neither your grass nor your tree is getting enough water to stay healthy. This irrigation repair is a bit different, since it doesn’t mean anything is necessarily broken with the sprinkler system. Your yard needs either more sprinkler heads or an additional zone.

Usually, this problem happens when your trees grow larger than your system was designed for. It could also happen during an especially dry season, if your watering schedule hasn’t been adjusted for lack of rain.

Irrigation Repair: How to Diagnose 6 Common Problems

4. Irrigation Repair Symptom:
Over-watered Plants

If your landscaping plants have yellowed leaves and stunted growth, they’re probably getting too much water. Cincinnati’s clay soils tend to get waterlogged if plants are getting more water than they need. This cuts the plant’s roots off from receiving enough oxygen. Eventually, plants will start to die.

This problem could happen if there’s been digging or edging in your garden that clips a pipe. A slow leak could soak the soil. Another possibility is a problem with your irrigation controller’s schedule that prompts the system to provide too much water.

Irrigation Repair: How to Diagnose 6 Common Problems

5. Irrigation Repair Symptom:
Popped-Up Sprinkler Head

If you see a popped-up sprinkler head after your system is done running, your system doesn’t need an emergency irrigation repair– yet. A sprinkler head that doesn’t retract is prone to breaking (see Geyser above!). Lawn mowers will chop the top right off the sprinkler. If you see any popped-up sprinkler heads, make an appointment to get them replaced.

This problem happens as the sprinkler heads age and wear out. Sadly, nothing lasts forever.

Irrigation Repair: How to Diagnose 6 Common Problems

6. Irrigation Repair Symptom:
Sprinklers are Running in the Rain

If your sprinkler system is running in the rain, there are two possible reasons:

  1. Your system doesn’t have a rain gauge
  2. The batter in your rain gauge is dead

A smart watering controller is the best solution to ensure your property gets the ideal amount of watering, based on predictive weather reports.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your yard, contact us to talk about it and make an irrigation repair appointment. Also, check out our Sprinkler System Repair resources for more tips and videos.