It’s a fact of life that sprinkler systems will eventually need repair. Leaks are common problems — pipes rupture, valves malfunction, and sprinkler heads break. Knowing how to turn off the water supply to your irrigation system when leaks occur will save you a lot of money on your water bill.
If your leak only happens when the system is running, then turning the sprinkler irrigation controller to the “off” position will stop the water flow and the leak. However, if the leak is a constant 24/7, even with the controller in the “off” position, you need to perform another step. You’ll have to shut off the water supply to the irrigation system, without shutting off the main supply to your home.
In your front yard, look for a large, green, square box in the ground near the city water meter. Sometimes it’s hidden under an overgrowth of grass, or a layer of mulch, making it hard to find. If this is the case, use a screwdriver to poke around until you hear a hollow sound, and then clear away the grass or mulch. It’s best to always keep this box clear so it’s easy to locate.
Inside the box you’ll find a brass valve with two shut off handles. This is your backflow device. It prevents contaminated irrigation water from getting into your drinking water supply, and it also shuts off the water to your irrigation system. Sometimes the box is filled with dirt, and you’ll have to clear it away to find the handles.
To shut off the water, it’s only necessary to give one of the handles a quarter turn, usually to the vertical position. If the handle is stiff and hard to turn, use a pair of channel-lock pliers. Be very careful not to use too much force on the handle or you could break the PVC connection (polyvinyl chloride pipe) at the valve. You’ll know you’re forcing the handle too much if the valve is flexing or moving. Once you’ve turned the valve off, check the area of the leak to make sure you’ve completely turned off the water supply.
If the backflow preventer itself is leaking, you have another option for shutting down the water to your irrigation system. Look for the sprinkler pipe that branches off from the pipe for the main water supply. The sprinkler pipe is the one that runs continuously to the exterior of the house without branching off, whereas the main pipe for the whole house can branch off once, or perhaps numerous times.
On the sprinkler pipe there should be a valve very near the branching point, or near an inside drain if there is one. Turn the lever to the perpendicular position to cut off the water to your sprinklers.
Some fixes are fairly easy, and some are not. When you need the sprinkler maintenance and repair experts, call Smart Earth Sprinklers at (512)694-1147 or contact us online.