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New Member

Posts: 3

Location: Michigan


Monday, August 15th 2016, 10:58am

Irrigation Boxes Keep Flooding - Why?

I’ve got a pair of irrigation valve boxes that keep flooding. Let me give a little history and additional detail on the setup.

Residential 10 zone irrigation system. I don’t know exactly how old it is, but estimate over 15 years. I purchased the house in January 2014 and did not use the system that year. I had it fired up for the first time in my ownership in Spring of 2015. According to the water bill history, it hadn’t been used since 2012 (separate meter). The system was in better than expected condition, with very minor repair needed to get it operational. What we quickly learned was the boxes flooded though.

The boxes sit within a foot of the house foundation. There is a gas meter and air conditioner in the vicinity, but nothing else with a water supply. The ground was largely clay with poor drainage. Initially we thought it was just a drainage issue, so we added some dirt, mulch, and got the roof downspout away from the area. Didn’t help. I paid to have the entire manifold and value setup rebuilt. At the time he added pea gravel under everything to help with drainage even more. Went on the rest of the season thinking everything was fine, but it may have just been hidden under the mulch.

This Spring I had the system started up and it’s again been flooding. Last week, he just came back and dug the whole area up and found a couple loose fittings. He made the repairs and hauled away a large cart full of clay, replacing it with sand. I checked two days later and the boxes are full again. Last night, I shop vac’ed them dry, checked this morning and they are again full. It did rain pretty heavily Saturday, which may attribute to them flooding initially, but it hasn’t rained in a couple days and the ground should not be that saturated still to run toward the house and flood.

At this point, I’ve had the irrigation company out a half dozen times (and they’ve been fantastic to work with I’ll add) for this issue. I’m going to continue working with them to get this resolved, but wondered if anyone had some thoughts we’re not considering. The whole area was rebuilt last year and repaired this year. There’s seemingly nothing else that should be wrong. Is it plausible that it’s merely a drainage issue? My thoughts are that it’s not helping, but definitely not the cause. I’ve put so much money into this system, I’m near the point of giving up and cutting my losses. Just winterize it and not use it. On the other hand, I’ve put so much money into it, I just want to get use out of it.

I've also paid to have the irrigation meter upgraded to match the 1” lines. It used to be a ¾” meter on 1” lines, which was incorrect. Don’t think that should have anything to do with this issue, but wanted to disclose it.

Is this an issue worth pursuing or do I just look the other way? It doesn't impact the systems usage, but it leaves standing water at the houses foundation continually and is starting to make the air conditioner sink a little.

Thanks for any advice in advance!

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "DBS" (Aug 15th 2016, 11:04am)


Supreme Member

Posts: 5,292

Location: Metro NYC


Monday, August 15th 2016, 12:52pm

Confirm it's a leak by shutting off the supply valve, and see if the boxes stay dry. (fair warning, the system shutoff valve might itself let some water leak through, making this simple step more difficult)


New Member

Posts: 3

Location: Michigan


Monday, August 15th 2016, 3:43pm

I'll pump it out again tonight, shut it down, and see what happens. We're supposed to get a bit of rain over the next day or two, so that may shed some light on the drainage concern.


Advanced Member

Posts: 111

Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA


Monday, August 15th 2016, 5:01pm

Since you are on a dedicated meter, you can take a meter reading, shut the system off but leave the water on, and then take another reading 24 hours later. If you've used any water Then you know you have a leak somewhere. If not, you have to look elsewhere to find the source of the water, maybe a lateral line.


New Member

Posts: 3

Location: Michigan


Monday, August 15th 2016, 7:34pm

Thinking about it now, I did try that initially and didn't have any movement from the meter. I let the technician know that, but we didn't discuss that anymore. About a month passed and we get to him digging it out and finding the leaks last week. So must be it was coming from elsewhere than the main? Good thought, thanks for bringing it up again.

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "DBS" (Aug 16th 2016, 6:37am)


Supreme Member

Posts: 482

Location: Houston, Texas


Tuesday, August 16th 2016, 3:18pm

This could be a result of the water schedule and rain. There can be gaps around utility and irrigation piping that can allow water from the normal use of the irrigation system to follow the piping back to the valves. You may want to reduce your irrigation schedule time and days a bit to see if you can find a balance where the water is not at the volume that cause your valve box to fill up. I bet you could take the water schedule down a bit.

This can happen even in the hottest part of the summer because many people over water in the summer.

But, I am from the thought that the valves are meant to function in high water conditions as long as you have good water tight connections.

good luck.

The AC sinking may be related or it may be its own issue.

Good Luck.
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