Weirdest leaks you've encountered?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by PurpHaze, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,496

    Time for a new thread. What are some of the weirdest leaks you've encountered? I'll start it off.

    In our pre-521 locator days we had a relatively small site (8 zones; disabled kids) lose its last four zones. The distance between valve #4 and valve #5 is approximately 200' with several hardscapes between them. Having no way to check for wire breaks we installed another controller on the other side of the site in a storage building and ran conduit/wire to those four valves which allowed everything to be up and running within a couple of days. But now we had two controllers to contend with instead of one.

    A week later we get a work order from the site guy that water was coming up through a sidewalk and had been doing this for a couple of months. We dug and realized that the water was starting from a point just beyond valve #4 where a 1" lateral line went under a sidewalk. After completely digging the area up we discovered that the 1" lateral had the 2-1/2" main line in the same trench approximately 4" below it. A tree root had followed the trench line and had started compressing the lateral to the point where a crack had developed. Every time the zone came on water followed the bore and came up through the sidewalk joints. The controller wires had been placed between the main and lateral and every time the zone came on water sprayed on the wiring. Eventually the wiring was sawn through by the water and the last four valves' wiring lost.

    If this had been reported prior to the setting of the new controller we would have fixed the problem and saved ourselves a lot of time and money. The good thing that occurred was that the boss told us to go out and buy the 521 locator, ground fault locator and a toner; equipment that we have used a lot since that time. :D
     
  2. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,496

    About ten years ago my partner and I went to a site that reported an irrigation leak in their kindergarten play area. We get there and sure enough water is bubbling up out of the ground. We started probing and noticed that the water was working farther away from the main line and then eventually to the property fence about 45' away. I look up and see that the house next to the school had its front hose bibb on and the hose end down a gopher hole. I went out through the gate and knocked on the front door but nobody was home. Turned the faucet off and the leak stopped. :p
     
  3. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,794

    One time while doing routine maintenance on a condo assocation we maintain I stepped on a spongy spot of ground. It was about 2' off the road, so I figured it was one of the old irrigation mains leaking.

    I started digging, and dug down 2 feet and exposed the old 4" main, but the water kept coming from below.

    Not being the original installer, I decided to keep digging wondering if there was another line beneath.

    I ended up digging down another 3 feet and exposed a leaking valve fed off a 8" city water main.

    The city guys were pretty ungratefull about me doing all the hard work, and when I went back there a day later, they had replaced the valve but didn't backfill my hole. I ended up doing it and charged the condo assocation.
     
  4. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 48,041

    I can think of several annoying leaks, including a few that were never fixed, due to homeowner lack of cooperation. I had a 'phantom leak' one time, where not a drop of the shallow well's twenty-odd gpm was making an appearance, neither by sight or sound. I checked out the rest of the system, then returned to the bad zone, and began walking the area. After a while, I suddenly lost a couple feet in height, as I had found the leak, which was a sheared-off tee fitting over a dry well. ABS pressure pipe and fittings did that a lot, due to their brittleness.

    Dorf on Sprinklers.
     
  5. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,496

    Anything like a quick elevator? LOL
     
  6. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,496

    Were they ticked that you found a city leak and they had to do some work or ticked you took their work away from them by digging the hole?

    I would have taken a couple of pictures and called the city and told them to get their crew back out there immediately. If they didn't get the crew back out I'd of threatened to send the pictures to the newspaper or TV station. :p
     
  7. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 48,041

    Another interesting leak was in a three-foot-deep pipe that flowed enough water to lift the turf off the soil underneath, making a giant waterbed of the lawn area. Took forever to pin down the leak, which on a time-and-material job was no big deal. The curious thing about the old poly pipe was the odd way that it cracked, crosswise instead of lengthwise, and its bright green color, like that of a cut-off riser. Stuff broke several times each spring, and the homeowners didn't want to pay to replace it all. Ka-ching!!
     
  8. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,496

    I've had these but mostly with larger main lines and where the soil is compacted. I've had "turf bubbles" up to 20' in diameter occur. Real pain since you have such a large area to investigate.
     
  9. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,794

    Boots, when you fix a broken Poly line in limited space, do you use two barbs, a nipple and a union? I work with poly so rarely that I haven't had to look into poly repair solutions.

    It seems to me that using a double barb coupler wouldn't work if you had no play the in the lines.
     
  10. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 48,041

    There is a poly 'slip-fix' available now. Once or twice, on larger diameters than the usual inch or three-quarters I work with on residentials, I made a sort of swing-jointed coupling from a IxMPT ell threaded into an IxFPT ell, and used it to join pipes where one pull met another, forcing it down to a level connection. Saved me a lot of digging. More a cold-weather trick, when the poly has even less play than usual.
     

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