I recently had landscaping done. The area around the valves and the water
main is now perpetually wet. I'm trying to get the landscaper to fix it,
as I observe the following:
1) the top of one of the valves is wet. the two adjacent valves are not.
2) the pipe leading from the valve to the ground is wet.
The only symptom that I see that does not point at the valve being the
culprit is that the valve in question is not in the center of the moist
The landscaper insists that the valve is fine, and he suspects that the
water main is the problem (and that I should have a plumber take a look at
it). Any advice?
May be a leaky valve, or a badly cemented joint. With everything off in the
house, check your water meter reading after about 1/2 hour. If the needle
moves, you have a leak. The next question is where. I find it highly
unlikely that you would happen to get a water main leak at the moment the
sprinkler system is installed. Your only option, if you are not handy at
taking the valve apart, is to have a plumber come over and comment. He has
no vested interest in the outcome, and might make a good judge. Or he could
simply fix it. Your landscaper sounds like a flake. Mine was, too.
Write a letter to the landscaper in which you raise your concerns, invite
his help, and suggest that you will hire a plumber within a reasonable time
to investigate the problem. Make clear that you will expect the landscaper
to pay for any corrective work done to the new sprinkler system. Make sure
the plumber provides you with a written report.
It is normal for some sprinkler valves to leak while running but generally
not when they are off. Did you observe the area when the sprinklers were
turned on the normal way (by the timer). Water often runs along a pipe
before dripping off, the location of the leak and wet spot may not concur.
Also many sprinkler valves have backflow prevention (anti-siphon) device
built in which means when the water turns off, if there is back pressure in
the pipe it will be vented at a point near the valve. If that valve feeds a
branch that runs slightly uphill before getting to the heads, a significant
amount of water may be flushed when it finishes.
Dig into the wet spot and make sure there is not a cracked pipe at the
bottom of it (or maybe you already know where the pipe is). You may want to
replace this soil with pea gravel to promote better drainage if you
determine the wet spot is acceptable.
Try putting a bucket or tray under the whole thing to find out if the water
is coming up or down.
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