Are you worried about your sprinkler system? Are you noticing that some portions of your yard are not getting enough water—yet other areas are getting too much? 

Many homeowners want to know how to troubleshoot issues and diagnose potential causes. This can help you determine if you can fix the problem yourself, repair a minor leak, or immediately call a sprinkler specialist.

Irrigation systems are complicated and intricate. If you’re a hands-on gardener or homeowner, you know that sometimes you can manage small issues with a quick DIY fix. Other times, calling an experienced sprinkler technician is the best action to take. 

Leaks in irrigation sprinkler systems tend to show up in three big categories: soggy spots, low sprinkler head draining, and inconsistent watering. By familiarizing yourself with the common signs and symptoms, you’ll be ahead of the curve in diagnosing the issues.

Let’s look at how to troubleshoot the top issues in irrigation.

First: Soggy Spots

What it looks like:

Soggy spots tend to look just like it sounds: soggy. You’ll see excess water gathering in puddles in various parts of your garden. This can happen after a big rain or after watering. You might also notice bubbling water while the sprinkler system is running. 

Be sure to look for uneven watering in areas where the ground is uneven. This could include contoured dips such as a terrace, or natural depressions in your lawn or yard. 

If you’re an avid flower gardener, take note of any plants that are growing abundantly while others are yellowing. This can also show up in your lawn — with some sections appearing lush while others areas are dying.

Why it happens:

There may be a leak in your system. Alternatively, landscaping may be inadequate or problematic. 

What to do:

The first step is to check your sprinkler system flow sensor to confirm if there is a leak in the system. The next step may be to evaluate if excess water is due to poor drainage of surface water. Physical landscaping may help to remedy and even out the ground.

Second: Low Head Draining

What it looks like: 

You might notice excess water spilling where it should not, such as onto sidewalks, paths, or roads. Sometimes you’ll see excess water pooling around plants, shrubs, flowers, or grass. 

A quick walk around your property will help you spot the extent of the damage. 

Why it happens:

One or more sprinkler heads could continue to drain water, even after timed irrigation. This problem is especially common in sloped yards, hillsides, and terraces.

What to do:

You may need to clean the drain check valves. If that is not sufficient, the next step would be to replace the drain check valves. Doing seasonal maintenance on your irrigation system is a smart way to put this task on automatic. 

Third: Inconsistency

What it looks like: 

Inconsistent spray can look like sporadic spray or slow sprinkling. You might hear sounds of spitting and sputtering. These sounds indicate that one or more sprinkler heads are not popping up properly.

Why it happens:

Inconsistent spray can be from a variety of causes. It may be low water pressure, a leak, valve positions, or a clog in the system. 

What to do:

Take a logical and systematic approach. 

First, check the water pressure in your home and garden. Are you noticing signs of low water pressure inside your home? This may show as low flow in indoor fixtures, showers, and faucets. This can indicate a problem that is a bigger plumbing or water issue, and not limited to the irrigation system. 

Second, check the valves on your sprinkler system. These valves are turned off during the winter and turned back on in the springtime. If the back-flow device is fully open, you’ll have ruled out this as a source of the inconsistent spray.

Third, look for specific clogs in the areas where you notice slow sprinkling. You might find a physical obstacle such as dirt, leaves, plastic, or rock that has clogged the sprinkler head.

Fourth, having eliminated the above reasons, the cause is likely to be a leak. This is a good time to contact an experienced sprinkler technician. 

Evaluating Your Options

When it comes to irrigation work, it’s important to evaluate your options. Take into account your personal preferences, level of urgency, and peace of mind.

Personal Approach

The first thing to consider is your approach to homeownership. Are you more of a hands-off homeowner? Or do you consider yourself a DIYer? 

There is no single right or wrong answer to this question. It’s more an issue of personal preference and self-knowledge. 

If you prefer to have a hands-off approach to maintenance, it’s important to have a trusted expert on call. If you are more of a DIY homeowner, arm yourself with manuals, how-to books, and video tutorials. Only you know the answer to this question. 

Level of Urgency

If you’ve got the weekend to do yard maintenance and clear out leaves from sprinkler heads, that’s a low level of urgency. If you’re heading out for a work assignment and your sprinkler system is on the fritz, there’s a high level of urgency. If your family is coming over for the holidays, and your yard is knee-deep in water, that’s a higher level of urgency.  

Peace of Mind

If you’re looking for peace of mind, consider a sequential approach. Assess the situation yourself so you know the extent of the problem. Use the 3-step troubleshooting system we’ve described, to determine causes and potential solutions. For ultimate peace of mind, consider having a contract for seasonal services. Avoiding problems with your irrigation system is a smart strategy that will help you in the long run. 

If you’re looking for a certified irrigation contractor for residential or commercial properties, call Quench Irrigation New Jersey. You’ll find reliable service technicians who are friendly and highly experienced.

With professional service, you can experience peace of mind and consider the job done.