I suppose in FL with our really sandy soil it may be possible to have a big
leak that never shows up on the surface. But before I did a lot of digging
and troubleshooting, I'd first do some calculations and make sure that there
was something wrong.
1. Did your waterbills suddenly go up to $400-$500? What were they before
you began to suspect a leak? Has your county put a surcharge on the water
bills because of the current drought?
2. How much water did you use with irrigation? without irrigation?
3. You should be able to check your water meter while running a single zone
and determine how much water is being put out when that zone is operating.
Knowing the number of heads on each zone and their approximate output you
should be able to calculate an approximate level of water use. If there is
a single source for excessive water use that should become apparent. You
should be able to run each zone, determine how much water it puts out during
its cycle, compare with your calculations, and if there's little
discrepancy, multiply by the number of cycles in a month, and determine your
programmed irrigation amounts. If it's totally out of whack with your
actual usage you need to look further.
4. Once you know how much water is being used during irrigation, you should
be able to determine whether that's an abnormal amount, and then identify
which of the zones is/are causing the problem. If you haven't done so,
recheck the zone settings on the Rainbird to make sure each zone is only
running ~20 minutes, and only on 1-2 x week. If something caused the
controller program to go bad, you could be running the system a lot more
than originally planned.
5. Once you've (a) identified that there actually is a new problem and (b)
identified which zone is at fault, (or perhaps that there is a problem in
the manifold or location that might affect several zones) you can
trouble-shoot that area
I helped my hubby with lots of sprinkler repairs around our condo, and
since many were not protected we got a lot of cracked pipes until we got
everything in shape. We always has water washing out to the surface
when there was a leak. A broken head will also flood one spot and
should be obvious. Are you present when the sprinkler runs to check out
sprinkler operation and timing? That would be my first chore, along
with making sure the system isn't running more often than it sould.
Those are whopping water bills and shutting off the system doesn prove
much. If your bill is high when you water and low when you don't, it
certaining doesn't seem like a sign of a leak to me ... seems much more
logical the timing is wrong. You could have major leaks but not have
any difference in the amount of water used.
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