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Thread: Turning on sprinkler system in spring

  1. #1

    Default Turned on sprinkler system and leaking at the vacuum breaker

    This is the first time I've had to turn on the sprinkler system as we just got our sprinkler system installed last spring. I had a professional winterize it in the fall.

    I did the opposite directions of how to winterize the system imagining that it's the same instructions as how to turn it on.

    When I got to the last step, to turn on the main water valve, just 1/2 way. I went outside to check to make sure it was ok. I noticed the water was leaking from the top of the Pressure Vaccuum Breaker. Looks a bell and seal thing. I turned the main water valve on slowly too just as they instructed.

    Because it was leaking water like that I turned the main water valve to the sprinkler system back off.

    Is the leaking of the water from the top of the Vacuum Breaker normal and will occur when first turning it on? Or is the Vaccuum Breaker unit broken?

    Did I have to turn on one of my automatic zones manually first to allow water to get through?

    thanks for any help!
    Lynda
    Last edited by leelm; 04-20-2006 at 02:55 PM.

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Default

    It should not be leaking, but it may or may not be broken. FWIW, I remove mine in the winter. I plumbed it with 1" copper unions so R&R is fairly simple and very straight forward. I made an attachment with another union so that I can attach my air compressor hose to the sprinkler side and blow the lines from there. It is possible your breaker could have had some water left in it and froze, or it could just be a bad gasket. Pull it off and take it in to a shop to be checked out and repaired or replaced if necessary. These devices can go bad and not show outwardly, my city requires an annual inspection. These are done on-site by an approved inspector, usually a plumber, for a flat $25 fee.

  3. #3

    Default

    thanks Gary for the reply.

    I was able to figure out what I did wrong. I needed to turn my screws ( I think they're called the test cocks) perpendicular to the pipes to close them out all the way.

  4. #4

    Default Sprinkler system question

    Gary-
    I just turned my system on today. As I went through the zones I saw a lot of water coming out of a pipe next to one of the Control Boxes. This was also occuring in another zone. I moved into the house so was not around when the system was installed.
    The water is streaming from a pipe with a top on it that looks like what is on top of a beer stein or what you see on the top of an exhaust pipe on a Big Rig truck. Do you have any idea what this is and how to remedy it.

    Thanks
    JMunk

  5. #5
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Default

    I can't picture anything like what you are describing. If no one else on the forum comes up with anything, best to call an installer to get your system going. There shouldn't be any water coming out of anything like you are describing.

  6. #6

    Default Leak

    Quote Originally Posted by JMunk
    Gary-
    I just turned my system on today. As I went through the zones I saw a lot of water coming out of a pipe next to one of the Control Boxes. This was also occuring in another zone. I moved into the house so was not around when the system was installed.
    The water is streaming from a pipe with a top on it that looks like what is on top of a beer stein or what you see on the top of an exhaust pipe on a Big Rig truck. Do you have any idea what this is and how to remedy it.

    Thanks
    JMunk
    A picture is worth a thousand words.

    Sometimes the pressure vacuum breaker will leak when you first fire up your system, and then it usually seats itself in a minute or so. But there should only be one of those. I'm not aware of any hinged caps that could be leaking water. Perhaps you did not winterize properly and you blew out a couple sections of pipe.

  7. #7

    Default How to detect leak ?

    When I winterized my lawn sprinkler system last fall, I noticed that there was a pipe leak. i.e. while blowing the zone, I noticed some noise underground. I digged and found a crack. However, it was too windy back then for me to fix it, so I decided to leave it and fix it when I turn it on this spring.

    Yesterday, I turned on the system for the first time, I was hoping that there would be some sign of flood near the leak area, but I didn't notice any flood. Furthermore, the 4 hunter PGP in that zone worked like there is no pressure lost.

    I am 100% sure that there is a leak, but I cannot find the exact location of the leak now because the grass has grown.

    First question is, is there any easy way (trick) to find any underground pipe leak ?

    Second question is, is it normal for a zone with 4-5 Hunter PGP heads (each head is approx. 10-15 ft radius) to spray 15-20 gallons of water per minute ?
    (I took this measurement after the pipe was filled)
    I don't trust the contractor who built the sprinkler system, because I have already found 2 broken elbows in less than 2 years. These 2 broken elbows are easy to find because they are on my flower beds. The flower bed sprinklers worked just fine even with the broken elbow, except that there was flooding.
    The part that worries me a lot is those underground pipes in my lawn. It is hard to detect leak, even when the pipe has cracked because the sprinkler heads spray the water like normal (there is no sign of lag of pressure).

  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default thing

    If it is a drip system, you may be referring to the inline strainer which has a 3/4" hose cap on it for flushing purposes.

  9. #9

    Default Leak

    I like to go around and "flag" all my irrigation leaks, as well as heads that need adjusting, especially if I'm not going to fix them right away. You can pick up a dozen little flags on wires at most hardware stores.

    If you really have a leak in one of your main lines, it will make itself apparent soon. In the meantime, if you have adequate pressure and don't see a puddle don't worry about it.

  10. #10

    Default

    I also had a question about this same thing. Our system has been leaking the same way. We just bought the house so I'm not sure if it was winterized properly. But it is leaking from the pressure vacuum breaker. Is there anyway to adjust anything, or do I need a new one? It has been leaking for quite some time now, so I don't think its just because it was turned on.

  11. #11

    Default Vacuum Breaker

    you'll need to replace the guts or the whole thing. Unless you can identify the exact make and model, you'll need to take it apart and bring it to the nearest irrigation store to match up the parts.

  12. #12

    Default

    Thanks for the reply. Also, if I could ask another question. Being a new homeowner, I'm not too familiar with these parts. What do the two vavles of the pressure vacuum breaker do? I've noticed the one to the left or right turn on the water to the sprinklers, but I'm not sure what the one on the bottom coming from the house does.

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