Water Blog

How to Find and Fix Water Leaks in a Sprinkler System

A sudden spike in your water bill is a classic sign of water leaks in or around your home. If you haven’t been using more water than usual lately, your first critical step is to locate the source of the leak.

Determining the Source of Your Water Leak

  • Many utilities will tell you to turn off the water supply to your home and check your water meter. Greeley does not want you to get into your meter pit because moving it could damage the wires inside. The meter department will open the pit and help diagnose the issue.
  • If the meter’s needle continues to register water use with the water turned off, you probably have a leak in your plumbing.
  • The next step is checking for signs of a leak in your indoor plumbing. If there are none, the leak is probably somewhere in your irrigation system. 
  • Greeley’s WaterSmart portal has a step by step leak detection process. You will need your account number to create a login.

4 Steps You Can Take to Find Water Leaks in the Irrigation System
To find the leak, it is a good idea to check your irrigation controller first, valves second, and sprinklers last. Use brightly colored irrigation flags to mark areas you suspect may be leaking.

Check for Irrigation Controller Problems

  • Although irrigation controllers do not leak, they contain an electrical clock that controls your sprinkler valves.
  • The clock triggers the release of water through sprinkler valves and keeps valves open for a predetermined time period.
  • Think back, did you recently change or expand your landscape, install turf or have a contractor making changes? 
  • Check the controller’s programming to make sure it hasn’t changed or returned to a default setting that increases water usage.
  • In some cases, irrigation controllers may keep sprinkler systems running unnecessarily for hours, which can significantly increase your water bill.
  • Check the programs for all zones. Many times additional programs were put in for new landscaping or grass and are still running.

Check Your Sprinkler Valves

  • Valve boxes should be dry, not flooded.
  • Wet valve boxes may indicate loose wiring, water leaking due to damaged fittings, or worn parts.
  • Check to see if the valve is sticking open, due to debris or worn diaphragm. Consult with a profession if you're not sure.

Check Sprinkler Zone for Signs of Leaks or Other Problems

Checking sprinkler stations may require the assistance of another person if you have a large irrigation system. One person needs to remain at the controller, so they can turn individual stations off and on while the other person checks the sprinklers as they are turned on. Look for these signs of leaks while running the system:

  • Water saturating the grass between sprinklers usually indicates a steady leak coming from an underground pipe.
  • Water spurting from a sprinkler’s base could mean that a seal is broken where the riser or nozzle connects to the underground supply line.
  • Also, look for dry spots which may indicate water is leaking somewhere else on the zone keeping it from reaching the dry areas.
  • Look for uneven performance from one head to another. This could indicate a leak in an underground pipe. 
  • Flooding around the sprinkler’s base may indicate malfunctioning valves that are not shutting off properly.
  • Soil washing out on the sidewalk or holes carved out by water.
  • Water sprays/geysers usually indicate missing  or broken spray heads. 
  • Water spraying between sprinkler heads could mean you have a cracked lateral line.

Ensure Sprinkler Heads are Aligned
Although misaligned sprinkler heads are not technically a type of leak, check to see if your sprinkler heads are spraying water exactly where they should.

  • If you’re going to be away from your residence for more than a few days, always check your sprinkler heads before leaving.
  • Loose heads may suddenly deviate significantly off their mark if left unchecked for long periods of time.
  • Low head drainage: This is water leaking (usually the lowest spot on your property) long after your system has finished. This can be alleviated by installing heads with check valves.

Contact Us

Greeley Water and Sewer

1001 11th Ave, 2nd Floor
Greeley, CO 80631

Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm

970-350-9811 tel
970-350-9805 fax

Water Conservation

970-336-4168 for Water Budget


Water 7am-3pm 970-350-9320
Sewer 7am-3pm 970-350-9322
after hours970-616-6260

Other Numbers

billing970-350-9811 (dial 2 for billing clerk)
start or stop service970-350-9811 (dial 2 for billing clerk)
water taste or odor970-350-9836
water pressure970-350-9320
water restrictions & violations970-336-4134
utility line locates811

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