A leaky sprinkler head can be a nuisance! Inevitably you will begin to notice signs of a leak as it may drip water from the sides of the head.

How Do I Know If My Sprinkler Head Is Leaking?

But there are other signs that you can look for that let you know that your sprinkler head may be leaking.

1. The ground around your sprinkler head is soggy

2. Your water bill is higher than it normally is

3. You notice cracks in your sidewalk or your home's foundation (if there are sprinkler heads near those areas)

Anyone of these signs are indications that you may have a broken underground pipe or a broken pipe in your irrigation system or a leaky sprinkler head.

Can A Sprinkler System Leak When It's Off?

The short answer is Yes.  Your sprinkler system can definitely continue to leak even if it's turned off.

Why is this happening?

There are essentially 2 issues that are causing this to occur.

1. Low-head drainage problem 

2. A problem with one of your zone valves

If your sprinkler isn’t working properly, one of the most common reasons is called “Low Head Drainage”. This problem occurs when the lowest point on your zone (usually your main line or front yard) allows water to drain out of the lateral piping, into the lawn. If this happens, residual water will stop flowing after all the fluid has left the pipe.

A zone valve problem usually happens because there's a clog obstructing the valves diaphragm.

What To Do If A Sprinkler Head Is Leaking

If you are looking to try to fix your leaky sprinkler head yourself - know that the problem may not be directly related to your sprinkler head.  You may find out that the problem is actually within the irrigation system itself so be prepared to do some investigating and to probably spend more time on the project than you anticipate.

But hopefully, it's just an issue with the sprinkler head itself!

A Broken or Malfunctioning Sprinkler Head

Of course - replacing a sprinkler head is the very first step to fixing the problem if it's due to a broken sprinkler head.  This can easily happen as many sprinkler heads have met their fate at the hands of a lawn mower.

You may not even have to replace the entire sprinkler head.  Simply twist off the sprinkler head to examine if there is some type of debris that is causing a clog or perhaps the sprinkler head got damaged somehow. It may just be that the seal at the bottom of the sprinkler head needs to be replaced.

You can clean the sprinkler head by cleaning it with a small brush. Screw the heads back on properly so that water will not leak or spray out of it.

A Low-Head Drainage Problem

But if you find out that the problem is due to low-head drainage issues then the solution is to install drain check valves.  These check valves close automatically when the valve shuts off.  This prevents any leakage to come through.

We recommend that a professional do this job but if you are a handy type of person you should be able to tackle the project with some time.

A Zone Valve Problem

This fix would require some considerable investigation and work to fix the problem.  This can easily involve one or more clogged or broken pipes in your irrigation system.

Again, we would recommend calling in a professional.

How To Find A Water Leak In A Sprinkler System

The first step is to identify if the leak is coming from your sprinkler system.  The steps are...

1. Turn off the main water supply to your home.

2. Check your water meter.  If it's running then you have a leak somewhere in your outdoor pipes or your irrigation system.

3. If you believe it's your irrigation system, check your irrigation controller's programming for problems.

4. The next thing to check are your valve boxes.  They are supposed to be dry.

5. Next, check the individual sprinkler stations.  This means that you will need someone at the controller and another person at the station.  The person at the station will be checking for broken sprinkler heads or if there is a leak coming up from the ground where there is no sprinkler head (indicating a broken pipe) or you may not even see a leak but just notice that the ground is very saturated.

6. Lastly, check every single sprinkler head in your irrigation system to make sure that they are tight and not broken.


If you have any questions about leaks in your sprinkler heads, call Atlantis Plumbing today at 770-505-8570. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We Offer Our Services in Metro Atlanta and Surrounding Areas

Fulton County, Bartow County, Cobb County, Paulding County, Cherokee County, Gwinnett County, and Douglas County.

Acworth GA, Atlanta GA, Austell GA, Cartersville GA, Doraville GA, Douglasville GA, Hiram GA, Kennesaw GA, Lawrenceville GA, Lithia Springs GA, Loganville GA, Mableton GA, Marietta GA, Powder Springs GA, Rockmart GA, Roswell GA, Smyrna GA, Tucker GA, Villa Rica GA, Vinings GA, Woodstock GA, and Surrounding Communities.