It’s Not You. It’s The Soil. How Soil Affects Your Irrigation System, Repairs, and Budgeting.

Tired of irrigation repairs? Confused about reoccurring leaks?

Don’t worry. It’s not you. It’s the soil.

march 03 news2Soil conditions in Texas are a challenge and can cause frustrations maintaining irrigation systems. Unfortunately, irrigation repairs are a normal part of living and building in Texas and should be expected throughout the year.

When you understand what happens underground, you can accurately budget for repairs and adequately maintain your irrigation system.

How Rocky Soil Affects Irrigation

If you are native to Texas and have ever tried to plant a tree, you know digging a hole will be a long and rocky process. Now imagine that same rocky soil under plastic irrigation pipes. Over time the downward pressure from above ground activities like people walking, golf carts, or lawnmowers can create pinhole leaks throughout the pipes.

The best way to counteract rocky soil when installing irrigation is to put a layer of cushioning sand at the trench’s bottom to cover rocks and support the pipe. When downward pressure occurs, the pressure is on the cushion base and not sharp rocks.

How Clay Soil Affects Irrigation

Clay is a prevalent and problematic soil component in Texas known to cause foundation issues. It absorbs moisture and expands tremendously when wet, and as it dries, it contracts. If clay soil can expand and contract enough to move a three-story building several inches over time, then you should expect that a plastic pipe or wire will be affected the same way.

Seasonal changes and drastic weather extremes bring up more issues and repairs. In the summer, you might see significant gaps between the soil and the sidewalk due to contracting clay, which is the same thing that happens underground. As the soil dries out in harsh heat, it contracts and stretches pipes or wires, creating lax connections that can cause malfunctions. Over time stretching can even lead to leaks and breaks in the system.

Is there a solution?

Construction is often low-bid maintenance which means shortcuts. Higher estimates for irrigation installation and repairs most likely account for sand cushion and proper procedures. If the initial installation is done correctly, it can cut back on future repairs but will not eliminate them. Previous leaks do not usually have anything to do with new leaks, and there is no way to know what causes every problem. The only solution is to fix problems as they arise in individual spots or larger sections when necessary. Repairs are a product of the soil in Texas and will be an ongoing issue.

Budgeting for repairs once a year is not really a realistic plan. When you understand what goes on underground, you can plan and budget accordingly. As assets age, it is wise to increase the budget. When you compare the replacement cost for an entire system— $300,000 to $700,00— to repairs for the year— $6,000 to $10,000— it makes sense to be proactive in maintaining your current system as issues appear.

How EarthWorks can Help

Our team is here to take care of all your repairs, concerns, and questions. We can help you budget the appropriate amount for repairs and regular maintenance based on your system’s age, property size, and soil type. We can help you avoid frustrations and be financially prepared. You can stay informed and reduce stress with our free Irrigation 101 class. The course covers essential information like this and more.

Contact us today for more information on irrigation repairs, soil type, and budgeting.  


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