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I have discovered that two of my irrigation system pipes were broken when an internet cable was being installed. They stayed like this for some time, including when the irrigation system was working - there must be dirt in the pipes at this point.

How do I go about fixing this, other than just glueing the pipes together with a shorter pipe? What should I do about the dirt in the pipes?

broken pipes

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  • did they use a dirt chainsaw to dig a trench? Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 22:47
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    Probably a vibratory plow, or maybe a trencher (e.g. DitchWitch) that bears a striking resemblance to a chainsaw-for-dirt.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 0:16
  • If this is between a valve and the head then repair it, remove the head and flush it. If it's between the supply and a valve then you don't want to flush the dirt into the valve. If that's the case you'd want to repair it, dis-assemble the valve and then flush the dirt out. Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 15:18
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    Depending on the circumstances, the person or organization that installed the cable line might be responsible for the damage. You're right about dirt in the pipes, which might cause malfunctions anywhere else in the system.
    – David
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 17:22

4 Answers 4

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Welcome to the wonderful world of kneeling above a hole with a can of PVC pipe cement. :)

To repair those breaks, dig them out a bit so you have enough room to cut back to non-cracked pipe, then repair with couplers and replacement pipe. The big-box home stores usually have 2' sections of popular sizes of PVC pipe so you don't have to go home with a 10' length of pipe you'll never use.

As for the dirt - once the joints have finished curing, remove the heads and flush until no more dirt comes out. You can do them one at a time working from valve to end of line if you know how the lines run, or you can do them all at once if you want to pretend you live at the Bellagio. :)

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Use a normal straight coupling and a length of PVC pipe to go end to end with your existing pipe after cutting both ends beyond the damaged pipe. Then use a slip coupling to connect the two flush ends.(see picture below from Lowe's) enter image description here

As far as the dirt in the lines, you'll need to flush out the dirt by removing the fittings in the damaged pipe section and flushing out the whole zone. You'll have to do this after you repair the pipes.

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  • Only use this if you have to. While these things work they do not hold against pressure along the axis of the fitting--if it can push the pipe out the end it will. So long as the rest of the pipe is solidly anchored by the ground all is well, if not you're in for a surprise. Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 19:43
  • @LorenPechtel The dozens I've put in have all held up fine, a number of them in free air for spas with 5 HP pumps. In the case above, the pipe's anchored to the ground.
    – JACK
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 22:36
  • Yeah, what's important is that the pipe won't slide out the end. I've never seen a situation in air that would work but I wouldn't say it's impossible. Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 22:56
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As all other answers point out you will need to replace the damaged piece of pipe with a replacement part. I would suggest however to flush the lines before you glue the new bits in place, so you don't have to force all the dirt out of your pipes upward.

Instead, disconnect your sprayers and put a garden hose on to flush the pipes, using gravity as your friend. This will force the dirt out the hole where it came in. You would need a pump in this case though to make sure to suck out all the water from your hole, otherwise you'll be making more of a mess then you already have.

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  • Yes, stones are even worse than dirt. Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 23:01
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Cut out the damage sections and replace with new pipe using couplers/joints for that size of pipe.

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