Finding underground leak of sprinkler system


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There is an area (which is about 20ft x 10ft) on my lawn that is now muddy. I suspect there is a small leak in the underground pipes. I think if it was a big leak, it would produce a visible hole or pool of water. But I just have a very wet area.

To avoid randomly digging along all the pipes, is there a reliable way to pinpoint the leak to a more specific location before digging? Preferably not needing expensive professional tools.

Thanks
 
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Confirm the leak by turning every other water appliance off and watch the meter, assuming you have one.
It will give you an idea of the volume escaping.
It needs fixing as roads collapse from water leaks and it could rack up a big bill.
Water utility inspectors use the traditional broom stick to pickup the sound of leaks, but that won't work with a soggy lawn.
The gas people drive a small diameter pipe into the ground and check what comes out.
If you got close enough to the leak, that might just work.
 
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When you look at the area, do you know if this would/could be the route of the buried pipe?

1619694367357.jpeg


I'd suggest looking near the middle. Any idea how deep you'd have to dig?

Or - treating the symptom might be a lot easier than curing the disease - put a valve at the start of the pipe and only turn it on when you need to use the sprinkler.
 
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When you look at the area, do you know if this would/could be the route of the buried pipe?

View attachment 3905

I'd suggest looking near the middle. Any idea how deep you'd have to dig?

Or - treating the symptom might be a lot easier than curing the disease - put a valve at the start of the pipe and only turn it on when you need to use the sprinkler.
I'd be surprised if they didn't have one, but that's USA and I don't know the regs.
UK would need a stop valve and a double check valve.
Whether the stop valve is used or works is a different matter.
You wouldn't leave your hosepipe running, would you?
Fancy sprinkler systems are radio or even computer controlled.
Sure, it's OK turning it on and off if it leaks, but a leak is undesirable and often get worse.
If it's potable water, there's a health risk, even if it does have a check valve fitted.
 
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You wouldn't leave your hosepipe running, would you?
If I had a hosepipe with an accessory on the delivery end which would shut off the flow, and a join somewhere in it which leaked and I couldn't/wouldn't fix it, I'd turn off the tap supplying it.

Fancy sprinkler systems are radio or even computer controlled.
Motorised valve?

Sure, it's OK turning it on and off if it leaks, but a leak is undesirable and often get worse.
True, but if tracing the leak is prohibitively expensive/disruptive.

Maybe leaving it off for an extended period over the summer, to the point where the grass has gone brown, and then cycling through a few iterations of on for a few hours (but no sprinkler use) and then off for a day, and looking to see where the grass starts to recover, might pinpoint the leak to a smaller area?
 
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There are systems in the UK that attach microphones to any available bit of pipe, a valve. or a sprinkler head the results are fed back by wireless to a computer module that can pin point the break on a length of pipe to within a fey inches, a similar system is used on a so called "Electronic shooting target" where the microphones hear the bullet passing and can tell exactly where the bullet hit the electronic target.

How about back to basics? using a thick broom handle you listen at each sprinkler for the sound of escaping water, as the sound emanating grows or diminishes you can pin point between which two sprinkler heads the break is occurring,? This will possibly assist in narrowing down the potential area of the break in the pipe??

Ken
 
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