How to Identify a Broken Valve in Your Irrigation System

Not only can broken valves be annoying, they can also cost you a lot of money. A sudden increase in your water bill is a sure sign that there is a water leak somewhere. If the leak is not inside your home, it is likely your sprinkler irrigation system and most often the result of a broken valve. So, how do you identify where the leak is? First, check your controller. If it’s fine, check your valves. I’ve created a list of signs below to help you find a broken valve as quickly as possible.

Signs That a Valve is Broken

1. Wet valves or a flooded valve box. Valves and valve boxes should be dry. If you spot any water coming from the valve or if the valve box is flooded, there is an issue. Call a professional right away to fix it. It could be damaged fittings, worn parts, or simple wear and tear that requires valve replacement. 

2. Flooding around the sprinkler. If you see flooding around your sprinkler, while the irrigation system is supposed to be off, this is a problem. It’s usually a result of the rubber diaphragm of the valve getting ripped or clogged by a rock or other debris. 

3. The irrigation system won’t shut off. This is very easy to identify. It’s commonly noticed when you come home after work to find the sprinklers on when they’re usually off at that time. Or perhaps you go to bed at night when the sprinklers are on and you wake to find them still on in the morning. Most valves that are used in residential properties are what we call “normally closed” valves. This means that when they fail, they stay open and don’t close until they are fixed or replaced. I’ll give more details on “normally closed” valves and “normally open” valves in another article. Just know that if your irrigation system doesn’t shut off properly it could have nothing to do with the irrigation controller, but rather the valve.

4. A stream of water on the sidewalk. It’s not uncommon for water runoff to occur while the irrigation system is on (this should still be fixed by a professional). But, if you notice water flowing on the sidewalk or curb when the system is off, it’s a definite indication of a broken valve. 

5. Water puddling in the lawn. If you had your controller installed by a professional, chances are your lawn is getting the right amount of water. Any excess water is not normal. If you walk on the lawn and feel your feet sink into an area, or if you see a puddle in your lawn on a sunny day, that’s a classic indication that there is a break in the irrigation system – more than likely from a broken valve.

If your controller is fine and your valves don’t appear to be broken, check your sprinkler. If you are unable to identify where the leak is, contact a plumber or sprinkler technician. Also contact them if you see these issues, but are unable to fix them yourself. We offer water management and irrigation services at Groundcare Landscape. Reach out to us and we’d be happy to have one of our experienced irrigation managers inspect your entire system for you.

About the Author:

Ivan Salazar



Office San Fernando Valley
P: 818 768 8594

Groundcare Landscaping
928 N San Fernando Blvd Suite J
# 111
Burbank  CA 91504