How to Find Sprinkler Lines

How to Find Sprinkler LinesHaving a sprinkler system is great. It helps everything grow better, and it’s extremely convenient. That’s why so many people have them installed. These systems do have a caveat though. When your system is buried underground, it can be hard to know exactly where the lines are located. If you need to do some digging in the yard, you certainly don’t want to put a shovel through your lines. Also, when the lines need service, it’s vital to locate them so you don’t have to dig up the whole lawn. For these and other scenarios, Andy’s utilizes a few tricks to find the buried lines.

Mark the Heads

Your sprinkler heads have to stick out of the ground or they won’t work. This is great for us as it gives us something visible to identify. Once the heads are marked in a grid, we know that the water lines have to run between them. A small amount of probing or digging around each head allows us to verify the direction of the lines, giving us a solid picture of the layout of your system.

Trace From the Valves

The sprinkler heads are not the only important part of mapping out the lines. We also need to identify the valves and where the lines run between the valves and the sprinkler heads. Typically, the valves are going to be housed in a box with a round lid. It should be visible, but sometimes the box can get lightly buried over time. If that’s the case, we’ll have to find it by looking at where the lines seem to converge and run close together. That will point to the valve box.

This can get tricky when a system doesn’t have a valve box. It still has valves, and they still have to be in the right spot in order to function, but without a dedicated box, it’s harder to work with the valves and can be difficult to find them in the first place. We can ultimately trace the lines to the box, but when this is the case, we will recommend installing a valve box to prevent damage to the system and make future work easier.


After we have traced the lines to a place that needs work, we’ll probe for components. Probing is relatively simple. We use a firm object that can push through the dirt far enough to strike the line buried underneath. We have tools that allow us to find the components while minimizing any risk of damaging the lines or damage to your landscape. DIY tutorials will tell you to use a spike or iron rake. While this can work, those tools also easily damage lines if you don’t have experience knowing what to feel for. Probing is invaluable in allowing us to see what is under the dirt without using a shovel.


Ultimately, most sprinkler work requires digging. If we need to access a line or other component beneath the ground, we have to dig it up; there really is no other way. Everything we’ve illustrated in this article allows us to dig as little as necessary to do the work, but digging is always the final step.

We also sometimes have to dig in order to be sure we have found the part that needs work. It’s common to do light digging around sprinkler heads to find a leak, or we might have to dig up valves in order to diagnose them (or install a box).

If you need to know where your lines are, we can help you locate them. If you need any other work with sprinklers or drainage, we’re here for you. You can contact Andy’s Sprinkler, Drainage and Lighting at any time. We’re always happy to help.