Water Conversation Tip No. 11

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Perhaps you’ve been walking through your landscape during a dry spell and you’ve noticed that the soil in one particular spot is constantly moist. It doesn’t puddle, but it’s just always moist — almost as if there were a small spring somewhere down there.

Or, from another scenario, one particular head in your system always has water beaded up on top of it. All the others are dry.

Both may be subtle evidence of a low-volume system leak. Turn that station of your sprinkler system on and find the lowest head on that station. If that head is where the moisture is, then you have a valve that isn’t closing completely.

Rather than digging up the wet head, dig through your paperwork to find the original installation plan. Locate the valve that serves that section. It may be 60 feet away from the wet spot, but that’s where you want to do your digging.

If you have trouble finding either the installation plan or the valve itself, you may have to resort to listening carefully. Have someone turn that station on and off repeatedly in the house while you listen for the click of the valve opening and closing. Believe it or not, that’s how the pros do it.

Valves have seals that allow them to shut completely. Over time those seals can wear out and that’s what probably has happened to your valve. You’ll probably find a tiny pebble or grain of sand causing the problem, but once you have the valve opened up you might as well replace the seal. Better hardware stores and irrigation supply companies will have what you need. Leave your system shut down while you buy the proper part.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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