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How to Detect Sprinkler Leaks

Our latest post comes to us from SFGate’s Home Guides ,www.homeguides.sfgate.com

A leaking irrigation system can lead to many lawn problems. Water may pool in lower areas and form mold and mildew that kills your lawn. The nozzles on sprinkler heads may spray in an uneven pattern due to debris inside and not provide complete coverage. This can leave dry spots in your lawn that turn brown in the heat of summer. Observe your system while it is operating and shortly thereafter, to point you in the direction of any sprinkler leaks so you can make repairs.

External Leaks

  1. Remove the last sprinkler head in the irrigation system. Turn the sprinkler head counterclockwise to unscrew it and lift it off the riser. Some models of sprinkler heads require you to insert a flat screwdriver, hex key or a special sprinkler head key first to unlock the head before removing it.
  2. Insert a paperclip under the screen that lies under the head. Pull the screen out and rinse it off under a strong stream of water. Rinse the nozzle on the sprinkler head with water to clean it out.
  3. Turn the sprinkler system on at the controller. Observe the sprinkler system at each sprinkler head; the last head will pour water out in a fountain and this is normal. Removing the head and turning on the water flushes debris from the last head in the line, where it accumulates. Turn the sprinkler system off.
  4. Replace the screen and last sprinkler head in the line.
  5. Turn the controller back on and observe all of the sprinkler heads. Each one should pop up on its riser and emit water at the same rate. Cut any nearby grass with pruning shears away from each head that does not pop up.
  6. Clean the screen under each head that has an odd spray pattern. Clogged nozzles are usually due to debris accumulation in the nozzle.
  7. Replace any nozzles that are cracked. Cracks in a nozzle will let water drip out underneath it instead of spraying a distance. Replace missing nozzles that may have fallen off with lawn maintenance.
  8. Straighten any sprinkler heads that are tilted and spray directly into the grass near them, causing a puddle in the area where the water sprays and leaving dry spots where the water should be directed.
  9. Turn on the controller and allow the system to complete one irrigation cycle.

Underground Leaks

  1. Observe your lawn soon after a cycle of watering is complete. Look for areas that have pooling water or are much greener above the water lines; this indicates an underground leak in the water line.
  2. Use a shovel to dig small amounts of grass and soil in the area of a water puddle or extra-green grass above a water line. Remove soil in small amounts so as not to cut into the lines and make a leak larger. Remove soil from under the water line that is cracked to about 2 inches deep using your hands.
  3. Cut the cracked water line out with a hand saw approximately 3 inches longer on each side of the crack.
  4. Cut and install a piece of PVC pipe with a coupler on each end into the water line. Allow the glue to dry for at least one hour and replace the soil.
Things You Will Need
  • Flat screwdriver

  • Hex key

  • Sprinkler head key

  • Paper clip

  • Pruning shears

  • Shovel

  • Hand saw

  • Damp towel

  • PVC slip couplers (2-inches long)

  • PVC pipe

  • PVC cleaner

  • PVC glue

  • The best practice is to check all external components and observe the sprinkler system at the start of each year before using an irrigation system to eliminate leaks and ensure even water coverage of your lawn.

Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of the Solar Energy Industries Association. I have quite a few clients ask about Photo-voltaic electrical systems which are becoming quite popular. Here are the facts, I hope you find it interesting.

Photovoltaic (Solar Electric)

Photovoltaic (PV) devices generate electricity directly from sunlight via an electronic process that occurs naturally in certain types of material, called semiconductors. Electrons in these materials are freed by solar energy and can be induced to travel through an electrical circuit, powering electrical devices or sending electricity to the grid. PV devices can be used to power anything from small electronics such as calculators and road signs up to homes and large commercial businesses.

How does PV technology work?

Photons strike and ionize semiconductor material on the solar panel, causing outer electrons to break free of their atomic bonds. Due to the semiconductor structure, the electrons are forced in one direction creating a flow of electrical current. Solar cells are not 100% efficient in Diagram of a typical crystalline silicon solar cell. Solar cells are not 100% efficient in part because some of the light spectrum is reflected, some is too weak to create electricity (infrared) and some (ultraviolet) creates heat energy instead of electricity.

Diagram of a typical crystalline silicon solar cell. To make this type of cell, wafers of high-purity silicon are “doped” with various impurities and fused together. The resulting structure creates a pathway for electrical current within and between the solar cells.

Other Types of Photovoltaic Technology

In addition to crystalline silicon (c-Si), there are two other main types of PV technology: Thin-film PV is a fast-growing but small part of the commercial solar market. Many thin-film firms are start-ups developing experimental technologies. They are generally less efficient – but often cheaper – than c-Si modules. In the United States, concentrating PV arrays are found primarily in the desert Southwest. They use lenses and mirrors to reflect concentrated solar energy onto high-efficiency cells. They require direct sunlight and tracking systems to be most effective.

History of Photovoltaic Technology

The PV effect was observed as early as 1839 by Alexandre Edmund Becquerel, and was the subject of scientific inquiry through the early twentieth century. In 1954, Bell Labs in the U.S. introduced the first solar PV device that produced a useable amount of electricity, and by 1958, solar cells were being used in a variety of small-scale scientific and commercial applications. The energy crisis of the 1970s saw the beginning of major interest in using solar cells to produce electricity in homes and businesses, but prohibitive prices (nearly 30 times higher than the current price) made large-scale applications impractical. Industry developments and research in the following years made PV devices more feasible and a cycle of increasing production and decreasing costs began which continues even today.

Costs of Solar Photovoltaics

Rapidly falling prices have made solar more affordable than ever. The average price of a completed PV system has dropped by 33 percent since the beginning of 2011.

Modern Photovoltaics

The cost of PV has dropped dramatically as the industry has scaled up manufacturing and incrementally improved the technology with new materials. Installation costs have come down too with more experienced and trained installers. However, the U.S. still remains behind other nations that have stronger national policies to shift energy use from fossil fuels to solar. Globally, the U.S. is the fourth largest market for PV installations behind world leaders Germany, Japan and Spain. Most modern solar cells are made from either crystalline silicon or thin-film semiconductor material. Silicon cells are more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity, but generally have higher manufacturing costs. Thin-film materials typically have lower efficiencies, but can be simpler and less costly to manufacture. A specialized category of solar cells – called multi-junction or tandem cells – are used in applications requiring very low weight and very high efficiencies, such as satellites and military applications. All types of PV systems are widely used today in a variety of applications.