If you have never heard of this term, don’t worry, most people haven’t. If you have used the term “sprinkler shut off” when talking about you lawn irrigation system, then you are actually talking about your stop and waste valve! A waste and stop valve is a valve that is buried about 3-5 feet in the ground and is usually turned off by a long T-bar handle. It is a simple isolation type of valve that allows homeowners to shut off the sprinkler system in the wintertime without cutting water off to the rest of the home. When you shut of the stop and waste valve, it lets remaining water in the main sprinkler line drain out completely. This helps reduce the chance of your pipes freezing and breaking.
To put it simply, when you turn the water off, it “stops” the flow of water past the valve. When turned off, a hole opens at the bottom of the valve which lets water between the regular sprinkler valves drain out; thus “wasting” the water out.
While this is a great way to minimize the chance of pipes from breaking, the only sure way to have all the water removed from the lines is to have the system blown out by a professional.
How are Stop and Waste Valves Installed?
If your sprinkler system has been out of commission for a long time, or you are looking to have a new system installed, we highly recommend having a stop and waste valve installed. Here in Utah, most homeowners wouldn’t take the chance of letting their pipes burst. To install, a technician will dig down to your main water line which comes from the city via a water meter out by the road in front of your home. For those that don’t know, the main water line supplies your home with clean drinking water. Once the technician has dug down to the main line, they will cut into the line where it comes through the foundation of the home and install something called a “Compression T”. Once the compression T is installed, they will then attach the stop and waste valve to it. From the stop and waste valve, the water will run toward the sprinkler valves located throughout your lawn.
Side Fact: Older homes have main lines that are usually made out of galvanized steel. It wasn’t until the 70’s that they made the transition to copper main lines.
When to Replace your Stop and Waste Valve.
Since sprinkler systems are underground, it can be difficult to know if your stop and waste valve needs repair or replacement. Here are a few signs to look out for.
- The T handle is hard to turn – This could indicate it is clogged or the gasket inside the valve has deteriorated.
- Low water pressure – If your sprinkler heads are not popping up, there could be a leak at your stop and waste valve which is causing a drop in pressure to the whole system.
- Higher water bill – The stop and waste valve is made to drain out the correct amount of water. If there is a problem with the valve, it will drain out too much water. This leads to a potentially higher water bill.
- Noticeable leaks– If you are noticing leaks around the valve or in your yard, chances are a cheap valve was used and has outlived its life.
Here at Aloha Plumbing, Sewers, & Drains, we only use commercial grade stop and waste valves when replacing or installing a new system. These commercial grade valves should last upwards of 20 years and give you the peace of mind you need to take care of your lawn and garden for years to come.
If you need a new stop and waste valve or any other residential services, please give us a call!