How long should it take for a leak to appear?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by justgeorge, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. justgeorge

    justgeorge LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 352

    So I turn on a guys system yesterday. After I've run all the zones and repaired a bad valve (a brand I had never heard of had a bad o-ring where the solenoid threads in that was leaking), there was a very noticable sound of water running thru the backflow. So, there is a leak somewhere. If there is a valve stuck very slightly open, there should be water coming out of one of the heads. Nope, can't find any heads leaking. So, the leak must be in the mainline somewhere. Walked the yard tonight and can't find any soggy areas. How long should it take for the yard to turn soft? This is poor clay soil (s/w Ohio). The other issue is he has some serious hillside - I'm worried the leaking water may just run downhill underground and never turn an area of the yard soggy.

    It doesn't help that I can only find one valve box (that had 2 valves in it, 5 zone system) and the homeowner didn't even know that there should be any more valve boxes anywhere.

    Any thoughts?

  2. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,496

    In sandy soil I've seen leaks go a LONG time before finally surfacing. However, with your clay soil it shouldn't take too long unless the leak is very small. Then it could take a while.
  3. Green Sweep

    Green Sweep LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 321

    I've had mainline leaks under or near driveways. Because of the gravel, they took forever to find.

  4. Rainman7

    Rainman7 LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Posts: 288

    I had 2 main line leaks like that.

    After we installed a sytem, the homeowner put down a plastic weed barrier and rocks over where we ran the main line. It was a small leak so the water was being dispersed over a large area.

    The other we only knew about because the customer said he had to get his cesspool pumped twice throughout the season. A landscaper cliped a MV line so whenever the system was on, the leak went right into the cesspool. That was also a small leak that my service guy didnt find because it didnt have any effect on the pressure.
  5. Green Sweep

    Green Sweep LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 321

    If it is a very slight mainline leak, then I will convince the customer to allow me to install a master valve. Provided that there is an extra wire & it is near the P.O.C. exit point. I can usually throw one on in a half hour, or 45 minutes. I could look for a break all day - Cheaper in the long run. I did just that for a Loews Movie Theater last year. They had a pretty consistent mainline leak. 28 zones - mostly parking lot beds & diamonds. Where would I start to look for a leak? I threw a 1.5" PGA on as a master valve & their water bill decreased significantly. Problem solved.

  6. But their leak didn't get fixed....WTF?

    They still have a friggin only leaks when the system runs you didn't FIX just put a bandaid on it eh? Do they know you didn't fix it or do they think you did fix it?

  7. Green Sweep

    Green Sweep LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 321

    I'm sure that you know that when dealing with commercial properties, that the buck is the bottom line. For this particular job, I laid everything on the table for the guy. I told him that I can install a master valve for a set price & resolve his issue of water that is constantly running. Or, I can take as much time as needed to search acres & acres of property to find where this leak may be - T/M. I could not give him an estimate on that. He opted for the master valve & I agreed. Yes, the system is leaking while running, but the leak, although consistent, is small. Small enough to not surface over the years & small enough to not affect the performance of the system. However, this leak going 24/7 greatly affected his water bill. So, no, the system was not "fixed", but his problem was. I think that it was a very logical, practical solution.

  8. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,496

    Considering what the options were concerning lines running under asphalt and concrete it was probably the best choice until it becomes a major problem. Then the parking lot will require digging up which will be more expensive. Sounds like they took the lesser of two evils for the immediate time.
  9. Understood.....I'm glad to hear he had the options....I hope you have it in writing so he won't sue you later when the leak undermines the foundation of the building/parking lot/or some other expensive repair.

    I had a commercial property manager threaten to sue my company in Arizona for not informing her that a leak could cause damage to the structure of the building. The termite inspector informed her that the termites came from a slow leak in the mainline, undermined the foundation of the building causing 10's of thousands of dollars in damages....they were looking for a scapegoat...because like you said....the buck is the bottom line.

    My lawyer tore them apart because I had a written proposal mentioning a slow leak somewhere that would need to be detected and they decided since it wasn't visible, no need to fix it.

    A professional leak detector service can find this leak and many more usually for about $350 in may vary in price where you are....but these guys have the coolest most sophisticated equipment money can buy...and they will find your leak.

    I hope it works out for prepared, these commercial folks will rip your eyes out if they get a chance. One of many reasons why I let the other guys do the commercial work other than blowouts....
  10. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,496

    Very good rule to adhere to... cover your arse. :)

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