Lawn Sprinkler System Repair – How to Fix a Leaking Water Main
Lawn irrigation and sprinkler system water main leaks are a common problem in yards, especially on older systems or systems that have had valve installations in heavy traffic areas. The repair of water main leaks involves a certain level of skill and caution, some common and uncommon tools, PVC fittings and glue and other plumbing related materials, as well as manual labor in the form of digging and trenching.
It is strongly recommended that before you endeavor to repair an in-ground plumbing leak on your lawn irrigation, you consider the skill level required and danger involved and exercise caution. You should wear shatter proof eye protection especially and consider using gloves to protect from lacerations or even severe injury that could occur to fingers or hands. Broken pipes or newly glued PVC pipe fittings can burst suddenly, sending debris out like shrapnel. Most injuries can be avoided with proper care.
Some of the tools that are required to do a repair of this nature are specialty tools, some are common. The common tools that are needed include hacksaws, channel lock pliers and a regular shovel. Specialty tools include the trenching shovel, pipe cutters, and small picks. An interesting use of common string or twine can be put to use the string as a saw in tight spots. Pulling the string back and forth across PVC pipe will actually melt the pipe where you are cutting, using very little space which requires less digging.
Generally speaking, when doing a repair to a broken water supply main you will need a PVC slip coupling, primer, glue, and perhaps a slip fix which is an expandable coupling that minimizes the amount of digging needed. With a more involved leak repair near a leaking zone valve box or at the backflow control valve, you may need more fittings such as elbows, tees, threaded couplings and teflon tape. All of these materials can be found at your local hardware store at retail price. A professional contractor buys these items in bulk and gets them at a wholesale price.
Needless to say, this type of work requires a high level of manual labor, physical strength, and requires the ability to bend, stretch, and remain in awkward positions for long periods of time. Coupled with the strength and endurance factor, a careful, skillful hand will be required as you will be digging around the spot to be worked on using a small pick at times or a small shovel to excavate, avoiding mistakes like severing the low voltage zone power or common wires. Another one of the most common mistakes is to create an additional break in the water main when digging around the original repair location. In short, skillful care must be taken coupled with uncommon strength and endurance.
When considering the best way to go about repairing a leaking irrigation or sprinkler system PVC water main, one must consider the level of skill and manual labor involved, have the proper tools and materials and exercise extreme caution at the work site. It is possible to save some money if you have the tools and materials on hand, but you may want to consider calling on a professional plumber who specializes in in-ground irrigation system repair. In the case of an emergency water main leak, turning off the water main at the meter can buy you some time and enable you to evaluate whether to endeavor do do the repair yourself or to call on a professional. Before you have such an emergency plumbing leak, take the time to locate your shutoff valve and develop a plan of action.
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