Irrigation Maintenance 101: Should I Replace Or Repair Leaky Valves?

Leaky valves in your heart are very bad news. Leaky valves in your commercial landscape irrigation system? Not much better.

While they won’t take a toll on your health, leaky irrigation valves can wreak havoc on the health of your lawn. And they can do a real number on your water utility bill, too.

Of course, this is something every property manager we know would like to avoid. The key here is to keep an eye out for red flags around your landscape.

5 Ways Leaky Landscape Irrigation Valves Can Damage Your Commercial Property

A small leak in your commercial irrigation system can waste over 6,000 gallons per month.Proactively addressing problems with your landscape irrigation will always save you money in the long run. Here we take a closer look at five of the specific ways leaky valves can sabotage you.

Leaks Waste Water

Just one small leak in your irrigation system can waste over 6,000 gallons per month. Imagine if you had several leaky valves going at once!

Damages The Soil

Persistent soggy ground around a water leak promotes unhealthy anaerobic situations in the surrounding soil.

Kills Plants And Grass

Overwatering is one of the worst things you can do to your plants. Even if the rest of your system is running properly, uncorrected leaks can lead to “dead zones” on your property.

Creates Obstructions

Whether you’re a pedestrian or heavy piece of lawn care equipment, no one and no thing likes to have to slog through a big wet spot. And running over a wet area can damage the soil structure in that place.

Wrecks Well Pumps

If you own a well, a leaky valve can cause it to cycle too often, creating undue wear and tear on your pump.

What Causes Leaky Irrigation Valves?

5214853350_e74b9565f8_zAs you can see, it makes sense to check your irrigation system often for leaky valves. When we do property maintenance for our customers, our crews perform this check at every visit: as often as once a week, but once a month at a minimum.

If you are managing your system yourself, we recommend that you inspect for leaks at least once a month.

Irrigation valve leaks can be caused by a number of factors. These include:

  • Cracked body

  • Worn or ruptured gasket

  • Ruptured diaphragm

  • Stuck solenoid

  • Dirty components

Some of these problems can’t be solved, while others are an easy fix. Let’s explore the possibilities.

How To Evaluate A Leaky Irrigation Valve For Repair Or Replacement

Leaky valves in your commercial landscape irrigation system can become an expensive problem if left unaddressed.The first thing you should do if you detect a leaky valve is turn the water off and inspect it. If you answer yes to the following questions, then you have no choice but to replace the unit.

  • Is the housing cracked or broken?

  • Or is there a leak in the fittings that attach to the valve?

If that is not the case, check for cleanliness next. Dirt and debris caught in the inner workings of your valve are very often the problem. Repairing these leaks is usually a matter of cleaning the valve out thoroughly.

If you can’t see enough dirt to cause problems, you will need to assess whether the leaky valve can be repaired or if it is time for replacement.

Most of the time, if the leaky valve is not caused by any of the above issues, you will simply need to replace a part. Parts replacement on an irrigation valve is not a painfully difficult process. Just shut the water down, drain it off and unscrew the top.

A typical residential irrigation valve is a relatively simple mechanism, and you should find the parts — such as the diaphragm, solenoid, gasket, and plunger — easily identifiable and accessible. Commercial irrigation systems, on the other hand, can be a bit more complex and require an experienced professional to ensure leaks is repaired correctly.

Cost To Replace A Leaky Valve

When possible, it usually makes sense to repair a leaky valve rather than replace it. New irrigation valves range in price from $15 on the low end for a small model, to $125-$150 for a larger, top-end 2-inch valve. Except for the very smallest, low-end valves, replacement parts cost much less. For example, a diaphragm for a $25 head may cost around $10-12.

Have A Leak? T. Lake Can Repair Your Commercial Irrigation System

Like looking under the hood of your car, commercial  irrigation systems can be complex and a little overwhelming if you aren’t an expert. We have excelled in water management, irrigation installation and irrigation maintenance all over the Southeast since 1990.

If you’re still not sure whether you have a leaky valve in need of replacement or simple repair, feel free to fill out our simple contact form or give us a call at our East Dublin office at 478-272-3878, or call our Macon office at 478-750-7733. One of our qualified commercial irrigation experts will be happy to help!

Image: Splash 

Topics: Water Management