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8 Ways Your Irrigation System Could be Wasting Water


Your irrigation system is kind of sneaky about wasting water. It’s like it’s embarrassed or something.

It doesn’t exactly send up an Old Faithful-type geyser that shouts, “Hey! I’m wasting water!”

It should be embarrassed. Irrigation water waste is bad for the environment. And expensive for you. 

So what are some ways your irrigation system is wasting water?

1. Your Irrigation Controller is Wacky

OK, wacky isn’t exactly a technical term, but you get the idea. 

When your irrigation specialist sets up your irrigation controller, it’s set for a perfectly efficient irrigation system.

Read Our Guide to Irrigation Installation & Maintenance
Leave it alone, and it can save you thousands of gallons of water a season. That means you could save money, too.

But let’s be honest. Not everybody leaves it alone. Maybe you start to fiddle with it, just a little. 

irrigation team adjusts controllerIf you mess around with your smart irrigation timer, or get carried away fiddling with your smart irrigation apps, or decide to water manually every day, all bets are off. You could be looking at irrigation water waste.

One exception: do update your controller with the seasons.

Here in Wisconsin and Minnesota, spring is cold and wet. Your settings shouldn’t be the same as in August, when it’s 90 degrees with no rain. 

2. Your Rain Sensor Isn’t Working

If you have a rain sensor, it needs a friendly glance once in a while. Make sure the batteries are still working and that it’s clear and not obstructed by debris.

If it isn’t working, you could end up watering your lawn while it’s raining. Which is kind of a bonehead move, right? Let it do its job to avoid irrigation water waste.

3. Your Old Sprinkler Heads Belong in a Museum

And not in a cool way. If you have old, outdated sprinkler heads they’re probably putting out a lot of mist — which means irrigation water waste because the water just blows away.

irrigation team adjusts sprinkler headsUpdated water-saving sprinkler heads spray larger water droplets that are heavier and fall to the ground where they can sink in. They also send out water at a much slower rate, so the ground has more time to absorb that precious water.

4. Sprinkler Heads Are Out of Whack

There’s another technical term, sorry.

Lots of things can nudge or damage your sprinkler heads, causing them to spray water haphazardly or leak. 

Frost can cause the ground to heave and nudge your sprinkler heads out of whack. That means they might spray your driveway instead of your lawn.

Lawn mowers hit them. So do snow plows. They can get clogged by residue.  And that next-door neighbor dog with the huge paws is a suspect, too.

5. Leaking Valves

The valves in your irrigation system are like faucets that turn the water on and off. Like a faucet, they can leak.

irrigation expert tests sprinkler headMaybe debris is caught in the mechanism that operates the valve. Or maybe a valve is just old and needs to be replaced. Valves work hard out there. They don’t last forever.

6. Low-Head Drainage

This means water is draining out of the lowest head in your sprinkler system after it’s done watering. Yes, your sneaky irrigation system can even waste water when it’s off! What the heck? 

When the water flowing to a zone is turned off after watering, any water left in the lines will drain downhill to the lowest point. Then it flows out of the sprinkler head until all of the water has emptied out of the zone’s pipes.

7. A Broken Water Line

If you notice several sprinkler heads aren’t working, you might say “hmmmm.” Or something else. The water line that leads to them might be broken and leaking water. 

irrigation team fixes broken water lineBecause they’re underground, leaking pipes can go unnoticed for a while, leading to serious irrigation water waste.  

8. Maybe It’s Been a Long Time Since Your Last Irrigation Tune-up

If it’s been a while since a pro has checked out your irrigation system, you can pretty much assume your irrigation system is wasting water. 

Regular irrigation tune-ups are crucial to having an efficient irrigation system.

Invest in a sprinkler system maintenance plan and you’ll have peace of mind that a skilled irrigation specialist will discover any of the issues listed above before you waste a bunch of water — and money. 

Specialists will also make sure each of your zones turn on and off and run properly, so your entire lawn gets the water it needs without costly waste.

irrigation specialists shows homeowner phone controls for irrigation systemHow often should all this happen? Spring, summer, and fall.

The best irrigation system inspection schedule for Wisconsin and Minnesota includes tune-up visits by irrigation specialists three times a year: in spring, to start up your system, in fall, to shut it down, and that all-important summer visit to look over your irrigation system when it’s working the hardest. Summer is when your system is under the greatest demand, and things are most likely to go wrong.

Eyes on your sprinkler system three times a year helps catch potentially expensive problems early, saving you money.

Bonus: you get great advice along the way to make your sprinkler system more efficient. Maybe you’re actually watering too much. Maybe there’s a cool new gizmo out there that helps reduce irrigation water waste. You’d like to know, right?

Want an Efficient Irrigation System in Eau Claire, WI, or Minneapolis? Trust RainMaster

Irrigation water waste is embarrassing — and expensive. 

You want the most efficient irrigation system possible.

Choose an irrigation maintenance company that makes all of this super easy. 

You deserve skilled, efficient irrigation repair; continued attentive maintenance; and friendly customer service that takes away the stress and makes things easy. 

Hire irrigation services in Eau Claire, WI, or Minneapolis that goes beyond fixing that immediate irrigation repair problem and sets you up for easy maintenance and efficiency designed for the long haul. 

Choose from our three irrigation maintenance programs to make sure everything is running smoothly.

When you’re ready to put your trust in us, we can’t wait to meet you — and help you make the best choice for your lawn.

Ready to make your lawn life easier? Request a quote today! We’ll review your options together so you can make a confident decision. Then, you can finally enjoy your well-watered lawn and stop worrying about it.

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Topics: Irrigation

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