Irrigation systems usually run when most people are asleep so how can you tell if you have an irrigation leak? UF/IFAS Miami U.C.U. (Urban Conservation Unit) reminded me there is a “fine line between poor drainage, over irrigation & irrigation leaks.” However, since none of these are desirable, you need to investigate further if you see any of the geological signs below on your property.
Unless you are drilling a well, water shooting up in the air is not a good sign. A hole in a mainline will run continuously and is usually obvious, but a broken irrigation head will only run when the zone cycles. Since more water is released from a broken irrigation head than a properly functioning irrigation head it can lead to the next three symptoms.
Water flowing over a curb when it is not raining is not a good sign. Any water flowing over a curb from irrigation is water being wasted and is a sign of over irrigation, a broken irrigation head or poor drainage.
If you remember your middle or high school class on geology you will recall when the Mississippi River flows into the Gulf of Mexico the sediment is deposited in an alluvial fan pattern. An alluvial fan pattern on a sidewalk or parking lot could be a sign of a broken irrigation head.
As previously mentioned a broken irrigation head releases more water, which shoots up in the air and falls back to earth with a substantial amount of destructive energy. Depending on the type of soil and vegetation there can be erosion. If the start of the erosion is near an irrigation head it may be cracked, broken or have a loose connection at the base.
The Grass is Greener on the Other Side of the Fence
Darker green spots or taller grass around an irrigation head is usually a sign of a problem. The irrigation head is likely cracked, broken or clogged. Green spots in the grass away from an irrigation head is likely just from extra nitrogen usually from animal urine.
Green Slimy Curbs
If a slimy fungus starts to form on the curb you may be over irrigating…a lot or have a slow irrigation leak. To check for a slow irrigation leak read abouth The Spins below.
Trickle Down Effect
If you notice a little bit of water steadily coming out of an irrigation head long after the system has turned off you may have a leaking irrigation valve. Most of the time irrigation valves work well. However, over time the diaphragm or solenoid in an irrigation valve can fail or debris can block the diaphragm from fully closing.
If you have a separate irrigation meter or sub meter, open the box and look for a small red or black dial or triangle. If it moves when the irrigation is not on you have an irrigation leak.
Technological Alert for Irrigation Leaks
If you follow the Best Management Practice (BMP) recommended by the Irrigation Association you already have a water meter dedicated to measuring only landscape water use and a meter with a flow rate output signal for interfacing to a smart controller to help detect leaks and manage water use.
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