Irrigation systems are designed to put water where it is needed in an effective manner. When water appears in new, unexpected places there is a good chance you have a leak. Fortunately, with most systems being made out of PVC, repairing the leak is relatively simple. We’ll go over a number of products and explain how each works, including one that handles galvanized. The first step is to make sure the system is turned off. Having a system come on while you are kneeling over it repairing a leak is an experience to avoid.
There are two important things to remember when you dig up the broken pipe. The first is BE CAREFUL. Don’t try to get all the dirt in one scoop. First, it’s bad for your back. Second, if you push too hard and end up hitting the pipe you could cause a brand new leak. When digging up a pipe it is best to take smaller, careful cuts to ensure that no other damage occurs.
Second, when you find the damaged area make sure to dig a few inches deeper and to each side. The system will have water in the pipe, waiting to get out. This water will want to flow out the handy opening you have just revealed. Digging extra deep allows for the water to drain below the pipe. Also, regardless of the type of patch you put in, you will need clear access to the bottom of the pipe. If you cannot dig deep enough to bring the water level down you will have to bail or pump it out. You will also need to dig to each side a little to give yourself working room for the repair.
Once you have found the leak you need to decide on what type of repair kit you need. All except one needs PVC primer and cement. We’ll discuss the exception first.
This can be used on either PVC or galvanized pipe. A compression fitting relies on pressure on a rubber seal to stop the leak. The compression collar and “O” ring slip on the pipe, the pipe slips in both ends, the collar is tightened and the leak is repaired. They have a number of advantages. Not needing cement means the pipe does not have to be completely dry to repair. If you need to you can do the repair while the water is running. Don’t laugh. It happens. They are quick to install and dependable. The primary disadvantage is they do not work for leaks at or near a fitting.
If you have a small leak at the junction of a pipe into a fitting, but the pipe and fitting are not cracked, it’s possible you have an area that was not completely glued. Rather than cutting out the entire fitting for a minor leak you can use a Leak Stopper Ring. These go around the pipe, both the ring and pipe are primed and glued, then the ring is pushed hard against the fitting. The glue creates a permanent bond with the ring, the pipe and the fitting, stopping the leak.
Snapper Repair Couplings are the Duct Tape of PVC: just wrap it up and it will hold. Snapper Repair Couplings are like two halves of pipe split lengthwise. A great advantage of these is you do not need to cut the pipe. The inside of both halves of the coupling and the outside of damaged area of the pipe are primed and cemented. The halves are snapped in place around the break and you have a permanent repair.
Like many brilliant ideas this one is deceptively simple. Fittings and couplings tend to be a standard size. If you have a broken line you need to cut the break out. Now you need to reconnect the ends. To do this with standard fittings and pipe you must cut out a larger section of pipe, install fittings and install the new pipe. More work, more gluing. This is particularly hard if a corner or T fitting is involved. The simple idea of Pipe Dream is make the fitting extra long. Because they are longer than the standard coupler, elbow or tee Pipe Dream is able to completely cover the damaged area without the need for additional parts or supplies. Simple.
This is another “why didn’t I think of that” product. KwikRepair Tees are simply a replacement section of pipe with the slip fit couplings already installed. The couplings are pushed in to the shortest length. The broken pipe section is cut out to a matching length. The KwikRepair Tee is then put in place, the Tee and pipe are primed and cemented, and the couplings are pulled out to full length. Job done.
A Quik-Fix coupling is simple and quick. Simply cut out section of broken pipe slightly longer than compressed Quik-Fix, apply primer and glue to fittings and expand Quik-Fix to fill the gap. Leak repaired. A great advantage is, because the fitting expands, there is some small room for error in how big a section of pipe you remove. For example, if you cut 1” less than the suggested length the Quik-Fix will still work. You just don’t expand it all the way. However, don’t cut too long, they don’t stretch.
Pipe fix give you more options in your repair. It is a section of replacement pipe with the fittings already in place. This provides a one piece, no hunting for parts, repair. It also offers the option of a straight repair or adding a Tee joint, allowing replacement of a failed Tee or the option of installing a new line.
Regardless of which method you choose all of these require a quality primer and cement, excluding the compression coupling.
For More Information
For more information about anything involving irrigation, please visit us at www.SprinklerWarehouse.com.