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Front yard sprinkler A water bill can double or even triple in the summer and early fall months due to overirrigating your landscape and irrigation system leaks. If you're irrigating in the late evening or early morning, it's difficult to observe broken irrigation pipes and common maintenance issues in your system. Broken or missing sprinkler heads, leaking valves, and cracked distribution lines contribute to excess runoff, deteriorate the health of your landscape, and can lead to an increase in your water bill!

Common Irrigation System Leaks:

Broken irrigation pipes, leaking valves, and malfunctioning backflow devices can all lead to constant irrigation system leaks.

  • Broken Irrigation Pipes: A cracked or broken irrigation lateral or pipe can run constantly and waste thousands of gallons of water a day. To find a broken irrigation pipe, inspect the area between your water meter and irrigation valves looking for wet or muddy areas. These areas may indicate an underground pipe leak.
  • Leaking Irrigation Valves: Over time, irrigation solenoid valves can deteriorate and fail to seal properly, allowing constant water flow through your irrigation system. Check to see if valves are functioning properly by activating each of them and visually inspecting they open and close correctly.
  • Malfunctioning Backflow Device: Contact a backflow device professional to inspect your system's backflow device to ensure it is operating correctly.

Best Practices for Maintaining your Irrigation System:

  • Have your irrigation system checked at least seasonally by operating each zone to identify inefficiencies such as broken, misaligned, or clogged sprinkler heads and to check for leaks at the irrigation valves. An observer is the most important part of any efficient irrigation system.  Performing simple and immediate repairs are the quickest way to maintaining your system's efficiency, preventing water waste, and prolonging the useful life of your irrigation system.
  • Check your irrigation controller schedule to ensure that it is set to properly water your landscape. Consider your plant and landscape water needs when setting your irrigation schedule. Look for signs such as plant wilting or discoloration and examine soil moisture often to identify if the landscape is being watered efficiently. 
  • Adjust sprinklers to water the landscape, not the concrete or asphalt. Irrigation overspray is a common water waste in the landscape.
  • Irrigation overspray
    Irrigation overspray is a prohibited water waste activity.
    Water between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. to reduce evaporation and water loss from windy conditions.
  • Check the soil moisture at various points throughout your landscape after each irrigation schedule adjustment to determine if it is being over- or under-watered and adjust the schedule accordingly.
  • Connect a weather station or rain sensor to your irrigation controller to better meet the water demands of your landscape during dry spells, cloudy days, or storm events. 
  • Harness the power of your irrigation controller by utilizing the percent-adjust feature which allows you to turn the entire irrigation system up or down by percentages, instead of reprogramming each individual station.
  • Consider removing any unused turf and replace with San Francisco climate-appropriate plants that require little or no irrigation at all! For a list of over 2,000 plants and their water use ranking (low, moderate or high) check out the San Francisco Plant Water Use List. Single family homes may be eligible for turf replacement rebates. Large irrigated landscapes over one half-acre may be eligible for detailed technical evaluations and grant funds for water-saving irrigation and landscape retrofits.

For more information on water-wise plantings, free landscape evaluations, local gardening classes, and recommendations for making your landscape more efficient, visit our landscape page.  

Last updated: 2/28/2019 4:46:55 PM