Other than trial-and-error digging, are there other tricks or special
equipment for finding them? Perhaps there is something like a
stethoscope attached to a pointed metal rod that I could use to probe
the ground while water is running.
They are only about eight inches deep.
In my situation, control valve wires wouldn't parallel any of the lines
for any appreciable distance. And as you will see below, I'm only
concerned about the line from the valve to the first head. (As an aside,
two of the four heads are fed from elbows, not tees. So there must be a
-- Why are you trying to locate the lines?
I have one zone out of five that none of the four heads pop up. When I
turn on that zone, I hear a rush of water for 5-10 seconds, then the
water flow stops 100 percent (the very sensitive flag on the water meter
The direct route from this zone's control valve to these four heads
would require passing under the driveway. (The original builder did not
install sprinklers.) One of the local pros said they would never do
that. (Risk of breaking the line.) They would take the much longer route
around the back, side and front of the house. That route passes right by
a large maple tree, which has surface roots, and a gum tree. So I
suspecting that a root is pinching the line.
I have seen sprinkler contractors run the line under the driveway after it
is poured. There is a special machine that does this (similiar to machine
that runs underground cables). I have never seen a root pinch a line but it
seems possible, but what is it pinched against, perhaps the underside of the
driveway? Otherwise I would expect the root to move over or under the line.
I suppose 2 roots could be pinching the line between them. If your line
really takes the long route, that sounds like a lot of line. Is the soil
easy to dig or hard? How long has the sprinkler line been in and did you
own the home when it was installed?
The local irrigation shop showed me a section of line that a root had
wrapped around, reducing its cross-sectional area in half. Maybe I'll go
over there and photograph it.
Otherwise I would expect the root to move over or under the line.
Even though the soil is heavy, it's rather easy to dig, especially since
the lines are only about 8 inches deep. I've owned the home for four
years. The house was built in 1968, without sprinklers. The best clue
would be the model of the Richdel controller (446PRi) and when it was
discontinued. I know that the models of the Hardie valves and the Hunter
heads are discontinued. My guess is 15 years ago.
I get two pieces of straight bailing wire about 15" long. Bend a 3" leg on
both of them. Hold them loosely by the three inch leg in a fist so they can
sway and turn. Get them pointed straight out in front of you. When you
walk over the line, the two will swing in, and parallel each other. Done it
many a time to find sprinklers, water pipes, sewer pipes, electrical lines,
Had many a person argue it is witching, and won't work, but no one who has
seen me do it has said such a thing. I have seen people who can't get the
fist right put them in two empty Tabasco bottles. They make some high
dollar ones that have swinging arms inside a hollow tube that ride on a
small ball bearing in the bottom.
But bailing wire works for me. Amazed many an old timer and made a believer
out of them. Once almost had to walk back from a quail hunting trip because
the driver was a religious nut and he thought I was posessed with the devil
and practicing black magic. True story.
I saw a man do this on my farm in Michigan. I don't believe in such
stuff, but it worked for him. I picked up the stick after he left and
tried it myself, and it dipped over the underground pipe(!). I'm sure it
must be auto-suggestion, or something, but... ;-)
I have clock operated electric valves on my system. I have had that symptom
and the cure was to adjust the valve or replace it.
Around here, Las Vegas area, it's normal practice to jet under existing
driveways and that's what sprinkler equipment manufacturers recommend --
look at one of their instruction sheets. Problem with long distribution
lines is the pressure loss which limits the number of heads you can put on
they shold be laid on a perpendicular grid, unless the ditches had to
dogde large obstalces a time of installtion. also a long uninterrupted
line, or a grid alignment change might send a pipe off at a weird angle.
you could jam a hose down one of the heads (the nearest to valve) and
see whre water comes out. at disassembled valve or the other heads.
couple pieces of 12 bare copper or coat hangers
around 24inch OA has worked well for me any easy to bend/cut somewhat
stiff and light wire handy it'll find mineral deposits or elect pipes
too. Older trick than the electrical contractor that instantly made me a
dowser. gotta hold em light, teeter the balance sort of.
This sounds like a wonderful excuse to purchase/ borrow an infrared
digital thermometer like the Fluke 51?
I'd turn on the water to that branch and put a bucket over the
sprinkler head. I would expect the cool water flowing in the pipe
below the surface would create a temperature differential.
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