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Old 04-09-2010, 02:39 PM
473 posts, read 586,811 times
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This will be our first spring/summer in our new house. The house has very little landscaping to speak of, and I'm excited to have a chance to put in some new flower beds . In order to prepare the beds for planting, my husband is planning on rototilling area. However, we have a sprinkler system and have no idea where the underground lines are. We don't want to accidently damage a pipe while rototilling. Does anyone know a way we can figure out where the lines run - short of digging the entire area up?
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Old 04-09-2010, 02:49 PM
2,120 posts, read 4,193,526 times
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Divining Rod?
You can start digging at the valves or heads and follow the pipes from there but a pain for sure.

A raised bed will save you lots of work

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Old 04-09-2010, 02:54 PM
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A pain no matter how you slice it.

Dig carefully and have plenty of PVC repair kits handy. Oh, and make sure you have access to your water main valve (some require a key) in case you hit a main line. I did this once and watched hundreds of gallons of water flood my yard as I waited on the front porch for the city to come out to turn it off.
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Old 04-09-2010, 05:16 PM
Location: Pomona
1,955 posts, read 5,661,760 times
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PVC sprinkler pipe ... unless the installer actually drew up plans, the answer is essentially "you know where it is when you hit it".

With that said, usually there's still some logic in the installations, as fittings are usually only 90s and tees. For the pipe itself, figure on straight lines from the valve out towards the area, and from sprinkler to sprinkler.
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:26 PM
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I second the comment about locating the valves. When we moved to our new place, the next day one of the sprinkler valves started going nuts on us and could not find the main to the sprinkler system, this was routed before the pipe to the house, so the main to the house did nothing. I paid extra $$ for a local guy to change the valve fast and had to turn the city main off. Now I know where the city main is and since than have dug out the sprinkler main too. I am sure I am going to break one of the PVC pipes during my DIY tantrums.
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:24 AM
Location: Ashburn, VA
577 posts, read 1,210,272 times
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As others said, find the sprinkler heads (where the water sprays out) and if you mark them on a diagram of your lot you probably will see a pattern and be able to tell where the lines are. The lines should be in straight lines between the valves. That should get you close enough to make a good guess about where NOT to dig.
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:52 AM
Location: Central Fl
2,901 posts, read 6,960,924 times
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I agree with what everyone else has said. i'll add that on the better systems, installers will add a 12" take off that is off of the PVC pipe. It is a flex connection, so when a mower rolls over a sprinkler head, it will flex enough so as to not break the pipe.

the reason I mention this is if the sprinkler head IS offset, the line may be off from it. PVC sprinkler pipe is easy to work on. I've replaced a lot of my pipe, since the system is 15 years old, and they used the thinwall pipe. I've replaced it with the thicker pipe whenever I've done repairs.

You should always now where, (and if) you have a sprinkler shutoff. I did not have one, so I turned off the water at the meter and installed one. no big deal. Just dig carefully, and have repair parts, (PVC glue, a pipe cutter or hacksaw, some sandpaper, primer if you want, some pipe and some couplings, etc) on hand. All those things are quite cheap.....I have a big box of all parts, etc, so I have everything I need without running out if I have to repair anything.

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Old 04-10-2010, 10:23 AM
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
11,978 posts, read 28,667,017 times
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You want to know where the pipes run. Find and mark all the heads, and the supply source. Remove a head and insert an electrician's fish tape (a long flexible metal band) into the pipe. Use a metal detector to trace the route. Rinse, lather, repeat. Make a map of the property so you don't have to do it again later.

In sandy soil, you can sometimes probe with a 1/4" metal rod (available in the home stores) and luck upon the pipe if you know generally where it is.
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Old 04-10-2010, 07:17 PM
Location: Central Fl
2,901 posts, read 6,960,924 times
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Great idea Harry!

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Old 04-10-2010, 09:46 PM
Location: Kennewick, WA
244 posts, read 679,724 times
Reputation: 305
We re-landscaped our whole front yard last year and ran into this problem also. We followed the "lines", but ran into some extra lines that had been capped off from the previous owner and ended up hitting and breaking those 3 that no longer connected to a sprinkler. So, all you can do is be prepared for the worst and hopefully everything will go smoothly. GOod luck!
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