Landscape irrigation leaks can be hard to detect, but they can cost you big. Even a small leak can waste as much as 6,300 gallons of water per month. That's enough water to take 252 ten-minute showers!
To keep your irrigation system efficient, and reduce water waste, follow these simple tips:
1) Observe an irrigation cycle
Thanks to automated controllers, irrigation systems usually run while most people are asleep. If it has been a while since you’ve witnessed your system in action, do a “wet check.” Turn the system on and walk through your yard, looking for leaks or broken sprinkler heads. Do this at least once a season, but up to once a month.
2) Analyze your lawn
Observe your lawn immediately after you complete a watering cycle. Check for pooling water, which could indicate that you have an underground leak in the water line. Also look for erosion in your soil, which could be the result of a cracked or broken irrigation head. Broken heads are not technically a leak, but they can waste gallons of water every time your system operates.
3) Watch for turf imbalances
Unusually lush or fast-growing grass in just one location -- especially around an irrigation head -- could be a sign that you have a leak. Alternatively, inexplicable dry grass could indicate that a break in one zone is robbing pressure from another zone, and it is not being watered correctly.
4) Check your water bill
Slow leaks in irrigation pipes are exceptionally difficult to detect. You probably won't even know you have this type of leak unless you read your water bill. Look for a sudden spike in water consumption that is not related to indoor water use; it could be a clue that something is going on in your irrigation system. Pinpointing the source of the leak may require the services of a professional leak detection firm.
What to do
If you notice any of these problems, consult a licensed landscaper for a professional assessment of your irrigation system. Immediate repair could help you conserve water and save money, and it could save you from even larger leak-related problems down the road.