How do you fix a broken underground sprinkler line?

The Sprinkler Pipe Repair Coupling is the most common type of PVC pipe repair coupling used in the United States. The pipe repair coupling is made from either 1/2″ or 3/4″ threaded rod. The coupling consists of three parts:

Lever Cap – The cap is the part that fixes over top of the broken pipe. The cap is tight enough to prevent leaks but can be turned by hand.

O-Ring – The o-ring is a rubber ring that goes between the cap and the coupling. The o-ring creates a waterproof seal while not damaging the integrity of the metal or the threads. The o-ring is also capable of sealing between two different sizes of pipe.

Gasket – The gasket is a metal ring that goes against the broken pipe. It prevents leaks at that particular point of broken pipe.

Metal Washer – The metal washer goes between the gasket and the coupling. The metal washer spreads out the force of the gasket so that it doesn’t put a hole in the coupling.

Screw Caps & Gaskets – These items are usually not included in the repair kits purchased during an emergency pipe repair. They can be purchased at most any hardware store though. A common item that can be used in place of the screw cap is a plastic lid from a milk jug or juice bottle. The pieces are easy to transport and can be replaced if lost or broken.

Once the pipe repair coupling has been chosen, it is necessary to choose an adhesive. The adhesive is necessary to create a permanent fix. The most common types of adhesives are:

Gas Piping Adhesive – The same adhesive used for gas piping can be used to repair small leaks. The average person can handle gas piping without specialized knowledge. It is necessary to keep the area ventilated and use caution when working with gas.

Adhesive Caulk – The most common use for caulk is to fill in cracks or small holes in walls and countertops. Using caulk on small pipes is an easy way to temporarily fix a leak. Using a large amount of caulk leaves an unattractive finish and must be replaced with a more permanent solution when the time comes.

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Cement – Quick drying cement is not used as an adhesive but can be used to permanently seal the pipe.

The cement must be poured around the pipe and allowed to dry completely. When dry the cement will be as hard as stone and any leaks will no longer be an issue. There are several drawbacks when choosing to use cement. The pipe must be able to handle the weight of the cement when dry. The entire pipe from end to end must be filled completely or the top of the pipe will break when the cement is poured inside.

The pipe will be unusable until the cement is dry.

There are several other types of adhesives available to the everyday person. All of these adhesives can be found at your local hardware store. A quick search for “pipe repair” in the store’s search engine will bring up several results.

Once the proper tools have been gathered, follow these steps to repair your broken sprinkler pipe:

Begin fixing the pipe by shutting off the water to the area. Find the shutoff valve nearest to the broken area. Depending on the type of pipe and where it is located, the valve may or may not be easy to get to. The valve can usually be identified by locating the water meter on the side of a house or in the basement.

After shutting off the water, locate the broken part of the pipe. The pipe will be broken in several places. Use the pipe cutters to cut away all broken pieces of the pipe.

In the case of a sprinkler pipe, there are several small pieces of broken pipe and other bits of debris scattered around the hole. The immediate area around the break needs to be cleared and the debris removed from the yard. The debris can be discarded or saved for use as mulch in a garden.

Begin repairing the broken sprinkler pipe by cutting a coupling to size. Before cutting the coupling, screw the female side of the coupling tightly on the pipe. Cut the coupling so that it is slightly longer than the length of the pipe.

After cutting the coupling, unscrew the female side of the coupling. Screw the male side of the coupling tightly on the pipe.

Using the coupling as a guide, cut a piece of pipe to length. The piece of pipe needs to be slightly longer than the length of the coupling. The excess length of pipe can be cut away once the new section of pipe is in place.

Once the new piece of pipe is cut to length, slide it over the exposed end of the coupling. The new piece of pipe should now be firmly in place.

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Reattach the valve at either end of the repaired section of pipe if needed.

Finally, turn the water back on and test for any leaks. If no leaks are found, then the repair is complete.

The repairs can also be completed using cement. Using cement requires the same basic steps of cutting pipe and coupling to length. After cutting the pipe and coupling, one section of pipe needs to be left a little longer than the rest. This piece of pipe will be the plug.

The plug needs to be pushed into the broken pipe. The plug is a little larger in diameter than the rest of the pipe. When the cement hardens, it will create a permanent plug. Continue pushing the plug until it cannot go any further.

Mix the epoxy as directed on the package. Find a section of pipe long enough to reach past the break and long enough for the epoxy to safely harden. Cut a piece of pipe and a coupler to length.

Before the epoxy hardens, screw the female side of the coupler onto the piece of pipe. Once the epoxy hardens, unscrew the coupler from the pipe. The epoxy will create a permanent seal.

Wrap the exposed end of the pipe with Teflon tape. This step is not absolutely necessary. Some epoxies already come with Teflon mixed in.

Mix the epoxy and slowly pour it into the pipe. The epoxy should completely fill the pipe. Continue pouring epoxy until the pipe is nearly overflowing. This step creates a plug and ensures that no additional epoxy will leak out of the pipe.

After the epoxy hardens, wrap Teflon tape in a clockwise direction around the plug until the epoxy starts to protrude.

Wrap the Teflon tape around the plug until it overlaps itself. This overlap is necessary to ensure a watertight seal.

Wrap the exposed plug with plumbers tape in a criss-cross fashion. The tape creates a temporary plug to keep epoxy from leaking out, but that step is not necessary.

From this point, the steps for repairing the pipe with epoxy and a plug are the same as detailed in the previous section, Repairing a Broken Sprinkler Pipe.

This type of repair only works on short breaks. If the break is too far from either end of the pipe, then the plug will not hold. If the break is too close to either end of the pipe, then there won’t be enough plug left to hold the epoxy.

The epoxy may also fail if the pipe starts to vibrate due to heavy use. The epoxy will fail due to the constant wetness and vibration. These types of breaks are rare, but they can happen.

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This type of break is common on main water lines. A main water line is a very large pipe that runs underground from your street or sidewalk to your house. Once it reaches your house, the main water line branches out to supply water to different parts of your house.

Most of the main water line underneath your house is hidden by concrete slabs. These slabs prevent people or animals from falling into the underground main water line. These concrete slabs do not always extend all the way to the edge of your house or property.

You may need to extend these slabs in order to prevent people or animals from falling into the underground main water line.

Contractors can repair these types of breaks. They are trained to recognize weak spots in the underground main water line. They can then reinforce the weak spots to prevent the pipe from breaking.

These types of breaks are annoying because you can’t do regular repairs. You need to wait for the city to send out a crew. Once they arrive, the process is fairly simple.

Before the city crew gets to your house, you should temporarily turn off the water at the main valve. The valve is located on the side of your house, in the backyard. You should be able to turn it with a wrench.

The crew should have the tools necessary to repair the break. If not, then you may need to lend the tools and a vehicle to the crew. They will return the tools once the break is repaired.

Once the break has been repaired, the crew will clean up any mess that was made. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask.

Once you’re done, remember to turn the water back on at the main valve.

It may seem strange, but sometimes tree roots can puncture a water pipe.

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You can sometimes hear the hissing sound of a water leak inside your house. You can also see the signs of mold starting to grow in your basement or crawl space. You even notice the water bill has been a little higher than usual.

Your first assumption may be that there’s a leak in the pipes. To figure this out for sure, you can turn off the water at the main valve and see if the leaking stops.

This may be a very slow drip, which can make it difficult to locate. If you can’t find the source of the leak, then the next step is to get some waterproof boots, a bucket, a flashlight, and head down to the basement.

Once down there you should look along the foundation of your house for wet spots. These wet spots could be evidence of a leak. If you find any of these wet spots you can dig a trench around the perimeter of the wet spot and lay down some gravel. This should divert the leaking water away from the house and hopefully prevent any more damage.

You can then patch up the holes in the water pipes.

All that work for a leak…

This type of break is rare. It usually happens to old pipes. Over time the pipes can weaken and crack. This is usually caused by something hot or sharp being forced into the pipe.

These types of breaks can’t be repaired. Not enough of the pipe is left intact to allow for a repair.

The city crew will have to replace the damaged section of pipe. Unfortunately, this may take a couple of days. This means you’ll have to do without water until the new pipes arrive.

If you’re lucky, the city crew will have some temporary water bottles for you to use. You can use this water for drinking and cooking. You can’t use it for brushing your teeth or cleaning though. For that, you’ll need to boil the water.

You can’t use the toilet without running water either. You’ll have to dig a hole in the ground and cover it after use.

You can try to boil water from your well on the stove. Boiling the water will help to kill some of the bacteria before you use it for drinking and cleaning. Anything else will have to wait until the city gets their act together.

This is going to be a long couple of days…

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Worrisome. You never really considered the pipes might be damaged until now. It never leaked inside the house before, so you assumed all was well.

You get the number for the city maintenance crew and call them in the morning. They tell you they’ll send someone out to look at it in a few days. A few days without water seems like an eternity.

You might have to go totally primal…

You can’t take it anymore. You head out to the street and flag down the first car you see.

You explain your situation to the kind couple that gives you a ride into town. Once you arrive at the Sheriff’s Department, you explain your story to a deputy.

He tells you that there have been a few similar incidents recently. An investigation is ongoing. In the meantime, he can give you a ride back to your house. He also tells you to watch out for the city maintenance crew. Those guys are a little shady…

You’re wary about getting into a car with a stranger, but he reassures you that he’s a cop. He says he understands you’re probably a little nervous, being out in the big city and all.

You get into the back seat of his cruiser and he turns the sirens on. The blaring sound startles you and you jump a little in your seat.

You get back to your house just as the city crew is pulling up. They didn’t have to work very fast to get here.

The city worker doesn’t even get out of his truck. He just waves to the sheriff and drives off after exchanging a few words.

The sheriff tells you that the city crew was responsible for cutting the pipes in question. They were trying to cut corners and stole the pipes from another job site. He says it was probably an inside job.

He tells you that you should watch out for the city maintenance crew because they are basically just thugs in street legal yellow shirts.

He’s right. You know this because you saw the city maintenance truck drive away without even stopping.

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The sheriff is apologetic, but there isn’t much he can do. He says there’s an investigation ongoing and you can file a report when you get back to the city.

It’s probably nothing, but you decide to heed the sheriff’s advice and be a little extra vigilant. You don’t want to walk into an ambush.

The remaining days pass without incident. You don’t get your water or any way to clean yourself. You’re starting to get a bit itchy, but what’s really bothering you is the hair algae in the well.

You tried filtering the water through a cloth. It didn’t help much. You’re drinking a brown sludge that tastes like lake water. You can only imagine what it’s doing to you inside.

The sheriff never did come back. The city water workers finished the job a few days after you spoke with him. They didn’t seem to know anything about what happened. You think they were telling the truth.

You take a deep breath and head back to the sheriff’s department.

The sheriff’s desk is empty, but there’s a short line of irate people waiting to see him. You wait for an opportunity to interrupt and try to ask about the sheriff in your broken English.

The man you’re trying to talk to is having none of it. He just keeps saying “next” in the same tone as he is saying everything else.

After an hour of waiting in line, you finally get a chance to ask him about the sheriff. He says he doesn’t know anything. Nobody has seen the sheriff. He hasn’t been to work. He didn’t come home last night.

Oh, great. Now you really feel like you’re in the middle of a police state. The sheriff is missing and you’re the last person to see him.

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You rush back to your house. The sheriff’s car is parked outside. You find a note on the kitchen counter addressed to you.

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