A lawn sprinkler system makes it much easier to keep your lawn green all summer long. It’s important to make sure your system operates correctly so your house stays healthy, too. Leaks, drainage issues and overwatering can send the water for your grass right into your foundation and basement.
“Your sprinkler system can save you a good deal of headache, but only if you know how to design and care for it,” says Garth Haslem on KSL.com. “If you don’t do things right, things can get ugly. Sprinkler systems can cause mold, rot, termite issues, even structural settlement.”
If the runoff from your sprinkler system isn’t soaking into the ground, that water collects against the foundation every day, says Paul Martin, owner of PZ Martin Education Strategies, which provides training and education to members of the property and casualty insurance industry.
“The ground swells and contracts. That can cause the foundation to move or even crack,” Martin says.
If there are already small problems with the foundation, the cracks and movement can turn into broken pipes and leaks, which lead to even more water damage. “Also, there are weep holes in brick walls. And if the water gets above the foundation line, it can get in through those holes and soak into your walls and flooring,” Martin says.
Then there are those times when you know your sprinklers are running, and it starts to rain. The combined watering punch could send some of that into your basement.
“The water builds up around the windows, doors and vents to your basement, and causes minor flooding, and even mold,” he says.
Leaks in the system can keep water underground and send it into your house as well. But how do you know if your system is leaking? Dengarden has some tips for checking.
- Check your water bill to see if there’s a sudden spike in usage or your bill is higher than usual.
- Also check your sewer bill to see if you’re being billed for higher-than-usual runoff.
- Look for soft spots in your yard. For example, if your mower leaves tire impressions in a small spot, that area may be the site of a leaky irrigation pipe.
If you see these signs and suspect a leak, Dengarden has tips for reviewing your system and troubleshooting so you can pinpoint the problem.
To keep your sprinkler system operating at peak performance, and to keep your lawn and
home safe, Haslem has these suggestions:
Check your system’s design. Make sure sprinklers don’t spray your house, especially the windows, or over window wells. Keep the spray at least 2 feet away from the house.
Change your timing. Your system doesn’t need to run every day. Haslem suggests setting it to run for 30 minutes, three times per week. Avoid having the system run during the hottest times of the day, when you’ll lose moisture to evaporation.
Clean the filter. This is usually located between the valve box and water main. “Filters should be cleaned at the beginning of the season, and again at least once a month during irrigation season. Small heads also have filters that should be cleaned regularly,” according to Haslem.
Look for underground leaks. If sprinklers don’t spray as far as they did in the past or one of your lines shows dirty water, you may have an underground leak. “Water from ruptured PVC lines will scour the soil, washing it into your sprinkler line. This means less pressure and more dirt,” Haslem explains.
Check for gushers, separations and blow-outs. “Gushing water and wet spots tell you where repairs need to happen,” he says.
AmeriSpec Omaha and Lincoln can include a sprinkler system inspection with your home inspection for a small additional fee. For more information or to schedule an inspection, call us at 402-393-3696 in Omaha or 402-483-2010 in Lincoln.
- On June 16, 2017