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Starting Member

Posts: 1

Location: Highlands Ranch, CO


Friday, June 24th 2011, 9:46pm

Best way to find a leak...

Hey everyone,

After lurking on this board, I have a question that I feel needs advice outside of my limited knowledge of irrigation systems.

I am renting a house, the previous tenant was from Arizona and really had no clue about how to care for a yard (due to the massive dead spots in the yard from leaves piled up and left till they blew away), and obviously had no clue about how to care for the irrigation system either.

After replacing the frozen backflow preventer (Wilkins 700a), I found that only Zone 1 would work. I then replaced the Rainbird EZ-1 Control box with a new Orbit 4 Station Timer. Problem still existed. Then I got 4 new Orbit Valves, replaced the manifold, checked the wiring with a meter, and now Zones 1,2, and 4 work. And found that EVERY head needed to be replaced, everywhere. So I replaced EVERY body and head. Still, only 1, 2, and 4 work.

Zone 3 is being a rather large pain. I have plugged off the 3 heads using a sort of drip attachment with a goof-plug. None of the heads even pop up due to water pressure, and after running the zone for 12 minutes (to attempt to find a wet spot), everything is dry even with water flowing through the backflow preventer. I can feel water running through the copper pipe off the backflow preventer, but I cannot find a place where the water is going.

Hopefully I have explained the problem well enough to ask for your assistance in maybe the next step. How do I find this leak? Short of digging a trench to find the leak, and buying some rather expensive equipment?

Thanks in advance for any support!


Supreme Member

Posts: 493

Location: Seattle


Friday, June 24th 2011, 11:03pm

The next step would be to calculate your leak loss. Are you loosing 3 gallons a minute or 20 gallons a minute . The amount will help determine what the actual issue is. Wether it's a clogged/ kinked pipe or a pipe break

Waters #1 rule is it follows the path of least resistance

A lot of times if there is a pipe break that doesn't surface is because it's found a drain or other various items that could allow water to flow elsewhere

If there is a pipe break and you can't find anything then the next step is to start digging.. Cutting and capping the line 50% of the way to isolate your system. Then continuing on with that. Sometimes it's better to replace a section of pipe rather then finding the leak once you have isolated it into a reasonable amount of footage

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