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Old 08-14-2009, 09:50 AM   #1
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locating buried sprinkler valves

I have a 3/4 acre property with a 15 zone sprinkler system.

The zones seem to be grouped with 2 valves and wires per 'box' in
differently places around the yard.

My system has not been used / maintained on a regular basis.

For instance... 6 inches of soil was added to one area that is covered by
zone '2'. The sprinkler heads were just buried under the 6" of soil and
grass eventually grew over them. I discovered the location of the buried
heads by turning the water on and letting that zone run for 20 minutes.
I then walked around the area that that zone covers and found
the wet spots where the heads were buried and where the water was
trying to come out.

Now... the issue I have is that I've only managed to locate about 1/2 of the
sprinkler valve boxes.... The zones work ( mostly ) but I can't find the
valve box locations. There are a few zones with some issues and I really
need to find the valve box locations.

How can you find them if they are buried? ( I have a large yard.... poking
a hole every 6" in the ground won't work.... )

I don't want to spend a lot of $$$ to locate these if I don't have too.

Thanks - jack
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:47 AM   #2
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Not sure where you live, but in general these should be laid out in a grid. I live in North San Antonio and know where my valve boxes are, but not where my lines run, as they deviate from the grid due to the rocky soil. I am redoing my patio and need to move some heads and here is the method I am using to reverse engineer my pipe layout.

If you know all the heads for the individual zones, the valve boxes should be somewhat centerally located where the begining of two (or more) adjacent zones start.

If you dig around the two sprinkler heads you would think would be the first and last heads in the pipe run for that zone. The pipes should point in the direction of the next head or valve box. IF you come to a head with only one pipe coming in, you are probably at the end of the run for that zone.

Do this for two adjacent zones you cannot find the valve box for.
Look at the the First head in the two zones and deduce what direction you think the water is coming from. Hopefully following these two back will give you an idea where they might intersect and narrow down the area you need to dig. If your soil is soft, you can get a stiff metal rod and poke around for it. It shouldn't be more than 8" deep (depending on how much soil you think they added)

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-14-2009, 03:24 PM   #3
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Get a ditchwitch and start across the yard.

Bummer though. Try hunting one in several acres of ballfields, etc. Good advice above. If you can find one or two and tell the direction of the line, that should help. I may have missed this, but if you can also measure and find your distance between the heads, use that distance to find the rest of them. Hopefully they were laid out in some kind of plan.

You might try using a metal detector. Some systems have more metal parts and a very few actually were planned out with a tracer wire, which is well worth the few extra dollars for exactly this reason. Or you might get a utility locator to run the circuit lines with a pinger, but that could vary on how much it would cost.
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Old 08-15-2009, 12:50 AM   #4
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I would try a metal detector.
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