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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What happens when you don't drain your sprinkler system before it freezes.

I know better, I really do. But life got hectic, the kids needed attention, work stress, honey do's, other household projects distracted me. The list of excuses goes on.

It all started when the city turned back on the irrigation water this spring. I thought I'd be the first on the block to get my sprinklers going. However, I was very disappointed when I had no water pressure. The sprinklers seemed to be so weak. I thought, it must be the city has not put the full pressure to the lines yet. Not thinking much of it I ran through the usual check list of checking each sprinkler section for broken heads. Except for the low pressure nothing seemed too out of the ordinary. That is until I checked station number six. There was a huge pond forming. I traced it to a flow coming up from a new hole in the lawn. Well crap I thought, I went to turn off the station and checked back. It hadn't stopped flowing. I had to turn the water off from the city before it stopped flowing. Even worse, it was coming from the water main. Well that sucks, I thought, maybe this is a good spot for a pool?

So here is how you go about repairing a water main break:
After you locate the main flow point in the lawn, dig a small enough square of lawn away so you can manage lifting it away from the dirt. Start gently digging till you see pipes, then clear the soil from a few inches underneath them. The goal is to locate where the pipe break is, then trace it both directions till you have about six inches of good pipe protruding from the soil on either side. You may need to turn the water back on briefly to verify you have located the entire break.There may be hairline fractures so look closely or go farther up the pipe to be on the safe side.

To my great joy (sarcasm) the break went a ways under the cement pad.
 As you can see from the picture above, it was the bottom most pipe that burst. The clean new part is the length that broke. This picture was taken after I had completed the repair.

The broken pipe:
It broke at the elbow and up the pipe about eighteen inches one way and several feet in the other.

These are the parts I used to repair this section of pipe.
 One inch pipe about 12 feet long, two sleeves, pvc glue, and an elbow with a pressure release valve to keep this from happening again in this section.

Cut the pipe to the correct length, (use a tape measure) I used my sawzall to make the cuts. Sand and clean the parts that will be glued together to give the glue something to hold on to. Put glue on both parts before joining them. Give the glue some time to set up before you test the repair for leaks you may have missed.


I also added a green box over the valve for two reasons. To keep soil clear of the valve so it can drain and for easy access should there be another incident..


After completing the repair turn the water back on and check for the other breaks. (Trust me, there are more.)

In total I found three major leaks, like the one above.

This second pipe break shattered the pipe in a much larger section, it was three feet one direction and about four feet in the other. The broken pipe is in the lower part the picture and the replacement pipe and fittings are the clean one in the lowest part of the pit..

As you can see, the pipe break wasn't small. It completely shattered the pipe.

I had the joy of completing this all in the rain as it was my only day off to complete this work and it was going to be done rain or shine.

So in conclusion, you can do all this or just learn from my mistake and clear the freaking water lines before it freezes in the fall.

Guess which one I'll be doing?