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Small Drips Can Lead to Big Problems

Simple steps to fix a broken sprinkler pipe

This article explains how to repair a PVC pipe leak in your sprinkler system. Irrigation systems are designed to put water where it is needed in an effective manner. When water appears in new, unexpected places there is a good chance you have a leak. Fortunately, with most systems being made out of PVC, repairing the broken sprinkler pipe leak is relatively simple. We’ll go over a number of products and explain how each works, including one that handles galvanized. The first step is to make sure the system is turned off. Having a sprinkler system come on while you are kneeling over it repairing a leak is an experience to avoid.

There are two important things to remember when you dig up the broken pipe. The first is BE CAREFUL. Don’t try to get all the dirt in one scoop. First, it’s bad for your back. Second, if you push too hard and end up hitting the irrigation system pipe you could cause a brand new leak. When digging up a pipe it is best to take smaller, careful cuts to ensure that no other damage occurs.

Second, when fixing a broken sprinkler pipe underground, find the damaged area and make sure to dig a few inches deeper and to each side. The system will have water in the pipe, waiting to get out. This water will want to flow out the handy opening you have just revealed. Digging extra deep allows for the water to drain below the pipe. Also, regardless of the type of patch you put in, you will need clear access to the bottom of the pipe. If you cannot dig deep enough to bring the water level down you will have to bail or pump it out. You will also need to dig to each side a little to give yourself working room for the repair.

What To Do When You Find The Leak:

Once you have found the leak you need to decide on what type of repair kit you need. All except one needs PVC primer and cement. We’ll discuss the exception first.

Compression Fittings

This can be used on either PVC or galvanized pipe. A compression fitting relies on pressure on a rubber seal to stop the leak. The compression collar and “O” ring slip on the pipe, the pipe slips in both ends, the collar is tightened and the section with the leak is repaired. They have a number of advantages. Not needing cement means the pipe does not have to be completely dry to repair. If you need to you can do the repair while the water is running. Don’t laugh. It happens. Compression fittings are quick to install and dependable. The primary disadvantage is they do not work for leaks when the damaged section is at or near a fitting.

PVC Compression Coupling

1 in. Compression Ends

PVC Compression Coupling

2 in. Compression Ends

Compression Tee

1 in. Compression Ends x Slip

Leak Stopper Rings

If your irrigation system has a small leak at the junction of a pipe into a fitting, but the pipe and fitting are not cracked, it’s possible you have an area that was not completely glued. Rather than cutting out the entire fitting for a minor leak you can use a Leak Stopper Ring. These go around the pipe, both the ring and pipe are primed and glued, then the ring is pushed hard against the fitting. The glue creates a permanent bond with the ring, the pipe and the fitting, stopping the leak.

Leak-B-Gone

Leak Stopper Rings

How Can I Fix A Leaking PVC Pipe Without Cutting It?

Snapper Repair Couplings

Another option to repair damaged sprinkler pipes is Snapper Repair Couplings. Snapper Repair Couplings are the Duct Tape of PVC: just wrap it up and it will hold. They are like two halves of pipe split lengthwise. A great advantage of these is you do not need to cut the pipe. The inside of both halves of the coupling and the outside of the damaged area of the pipe are primed and cemented. The halves are snapped in place around the break and you have a permanent repair.

Snapper Tee

Sch. 40 PVC 1 in. Slip

Snapper Coupling

Sch. 40 PVC 2 in. Slip

Pipe-To-Fitting Coupling

Sch. 40 PVC 1/2 in. Slip

Pipe Dream Fittings

Like many brilliant ideas this one is deceptively simple. Fittings and couplings tend to be a standard size. If you have a broken line you need to cut the break out. Now you need to reconnect the ends. To do this with standard fittings and pipe you must cut out a larger section of pipe, install fittings and install the new pipe. More work, more gluing. This is particularly hard if a corner or T fitting is involved. The simple idea of Pipe Dream is make the fitting extra long. Because they are longer than the standard coupler, elbow or tee Pipe Dream is able to completely cover the damaged area without the need for additional parts or supplies. Simple.

Kwik-Repair Tees

This is another “why didn’t I think of that” product. KwikRepair Tees are simply a replacement section of broken sprinkler pipe with the slip fit couplings already installed. The couplings are pushed in to the shortest length. The broken pipe section is cut out to a matching length. The KwikRepair Tee is then put in place, the Tee and pipe are primed and cemented, and the couplings are pulled out to full length. Job done.

3/4 in. QuikSlip Tee

Sch. 40 Slip x Slip x Barb

Snapper Coupling

Sch. 40 PVC 2 in. Slip

Quik-Fix Telescopic Repair Coupling

A Quik-Fix coupling is simple and quick. Simply cut out section of broken pipe slightly longer than compressed Quik-Fix, apply primer and glue to fittings and expand Quik-Fix to fill the gap. Leak repaired. A great advantage is, because the fitting expands, there is some small room for error in how big a section of pipe you remove. For example, if you cut 1” less than the suggested length the Quik-Fix will still work. You just don’t expand it all the way. However, don’t cut too long, they don’t stretch.

Telescopic Coupling 1 in.

150 PSI rated in all positions

Telescopic Coupling 1 1/4 in.

Made in USA by KBI

Telescopic Coupling 1 1/4 in.

Made in USA by KBI

Pipe Fix

Pipe fix give you more options in your repair. It is a section of replacement pipe with the fittings already in place. This provides a one piece, no hunting for parts, repair. It also offers the option of a straight repair or adding a Tee joint, allowing replacement of a failed Tee or the option of installing a new line.

Primer and Cement

Regardless of which method you choose all of these require a quality primer and cement, excluding the compression coupling.

Weld-On P-68 Purple PVC Primer

For PVC and CPVC fittings

Weld All 8155 Primer

For softening PVC joint surfaces

Christy’s Red Hot Blue Glue

Good for wet or dry conditions

Follow these links for more products related to PVC pipe leak repair:

FAQ For Fixing Leaking PVC Pipe

Can I Use PVC Cement To Stop A Leak?

No, you wouldn't want to use just PVC cement, that is for bonding two pieces of PVC together. Other than compression coupling, you would use the PVC cement with another PVC part such as a coupling to stop the leak.

How Can I Fix A PVC Leak At The Connection Of A Fitting?

To seal a leak at the connection of a fitting, we recommend 'Leak-B-Gone' leak stopper rings. These go around the pipe, then are primed and glued and pushed against the fitting to create a seal at the connection.

Can I Use Compression Fittings To Fix A Leading PVC Pipe?

Compression fittings are great when you need to repair a pipe while the water is still running. Because they don't require cement, means the pipe doesn't have to be completely dry.