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Troubleshooting Wet Spot/Standing Water:
Common Issues and How to Handle

Troubleshooting Wet Spot-Standing Water - Common Issues and How to Handle

Have you ever walked or driven past a home with an immaculate lawn and wondered how to get your lawn to look like that? Chances are they had help from professionals to install the correct irrigation system making it easier to maintain a healthy lawn throughout the year. But sometimes an irrigation system requires troubleshooting to handle wet spots.

Lacking the time to care for your lawn is easily handled by using automated irrigation/sprinkler systems. The technology available makes it possible for anyone to have a beautiful green lawn and flourishing gardens. Like all equipment, repairs and maintenance may be needed after continual use. If you notice wet spots or standing water on your lawn, for instance, there could be several reasons why this occurs, some indicating that your irrigation/sprinkler equipment may need some repairs. 

Water on Lawn

Leaking or Broken Pipe

This is perhaps the first thing you might think of. If you find the water is laying, or pooling, in the grass between sprinklers then this could mean a leaking pipe underground.

You may have a map of the entire system, if that’s the case locating the leaking pipe should be fairly simple. If you don’t have a map, then it is good to know that irrigation pipes are made up of straight and T-joint pipes. 

The sprinkler pipes are buried about 8-12 inches underground. If you’re going to dig into the ground, do not push the shovel straight down, as you may damage the pipe. Go in at an angle. Make sure to turn the system off, you need the lawn to dry out, so pending weather, it could take a few days. You will want to make sure your system is shut off for those days to prevent watering. Once the lawn is dry, you should be able to spot standing water or wet spots. You will want to dig down to those pipes to find the leak and repair.

Faulty Sprinkler Control Valve

If the problem is with the control valve you will probably be experiencing low or uneven pressure. You might notice uneven spray patterns as well.

It can also be the electric signal that is causing the valve to malfunction. You can check the current and resistance to determine if it’s the circuit.

If not electrical, it is most likely mechanical. A good look at the valve would be the thing to do, it may be that you need to disassemble, clean and inspect the inner parts of the solenoid. It may be that small rocks and debris need to be cleaned out of it. If that’s the case then do it carefully so as to not damage it.

It may be a damaged part, in which case you would need to get the replacement. 

Signs You Have a Broken Sprinkler Head

  • Look for damaged plastic casing on the head of the sprinkler.
  • The sprinkler heads don’t pop up. 
  • The water sprays wildly or doesn’t spray at all.
  • The heads have completely broken off. 

Replacing Your Sprinkler Head

If you’re going to replace it yourself you want to make sure it’s the same type as your old one (pop up; stationary, rotor or gear driven rotor or impact).

The new head must match the inches per hour (iph) or gallons per hour (gph) delivery rate. So, make sure you have this before purchasing your sprinkler head to avoid any issues.

  • Start by digging around the broken head. 
  • Once you reach the water line unscrew the broken head.
  • Remove the riser from the old head and screw into the new head. 
  • You want to make sure the top of the head is flush with the ground once you screw it back into the water line.
  • Reinstall the head and fill the hole. 
  • Replace the grass, making sure to align the head so it sits straight. 
  • Water the grass right away to reestablish the roots.

For detailed instructions see How to Replace a Sprinkler Head

Over Watering: Due to Controller Programming

You may have a problem with your irrigation controllers if you don’t notice any signs of damaged sprinkler heads or obvious valve problems. Irrigation controllers work using an electrical clock to control the valves. The clock regulates the timing of the sprinklers going on and off. If the setting has malfunctioned this could cause your sprinklers to go on for too long, leading to the standing water or wet spots. 

You can check the programming to ensure it hasn’t switched over to a default setting. If it has, it should be simple to switch it back.

For more information see Understanding and Programming Your Irrigation Controller

Poor Drainage

Another common reason for wet spots is due to poor drainage. This is normally caused by a depression or incorrect slope or pitch. It can be easily handled by installing a rain garden where you’re getting the excess water. 

Poor drainage could be a man made problem as well. You may have been blowing everything off the ground (with yard maintenance, leaf removal, or landscaping) until you’re right down to the soil. Then, when it rains the water erodes the topsoil leaving you with impacted red clay. To fix this, heavily mulch the area and give it some time to stabilize.

Troubleshooting standing water or wet spots can be a lengthy process, unless you know exactly what to look for. The professionals at Smart Earth Sprinklers are able to accurately assess issues with your irrigation/sprinkler system causing your lawn to have wet spots or standing water. 

Call the licensed irrigators at Smart Earth Sprinklers at 512-694-1147 or contact us online for your sprinkler system inspection, repair, and maintenance needs.

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