Rain Bird Sprinkler Head Leaking When Off? How To Diagnose And Fix

If you have Rain Bird sprinklers that leak when they’re supposed to be off, it’s frustrating and wastes water. But don’t despair – in most cases the leak can be fixed with some simple troubleshooting and repairs.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: The most common causes of leaking Rain Bird heads are worn seals/gaskets, stuck valves, cracked housings, and blocked nozzles. Fixing it involves checking these components and replacing worn parts.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through diagnosing and fixing the various issues that can cause Rain Bird sprinkler heads to leak when shut off. We’ll look at the most common culprits and solutions, with step-by-step guides for the necessary repairs.

Worn Seals and Gaskets


One of the main reasons for a Rain Bird sprinkler head leaking when it is turned off is worn seals and gaskets. These components are responsible for creating a watertight seal when the sprinkler is in use, preventing any water from leaking out.

Over time, however, these seals and gaskets can deteriorate due to regular wear and tear, exposure to harsh weather conditions, or the buildup of debris and sediment.

One common symptom of worn seals and gaskets is water leakage from the sprinkler head even when the system is turned off. You may notice water pooling around the base of the sprinkler or see a constant drip from the nozzle. This can lead to water wastage and an inefficient irrigation system.

Replacing Seals

To fix the issue of a leaking sprinkler head caused by worn seals and gaskets, the first step is to identify the specific sprinkler head that is leaking. Once you have located the problem area, you can proceed with replacing the damaged seals and gaskets.

To replace the seals and gaskets, you will need to turn off the main water supply to the irrigation system. Then, carefully remove the sprinkler head using a wrench or pliers. Take note of the make and model of the sprinkler head, as different brands may have slightly different replacement procedures.

Next, inspect the seals and gaskets for any signs of wear or damage. If they are cracked, torn, or worn out, they will need to be replaced. You can purchase replacement seals and gaskets from local hardware stores or online retailers that specialize in irrigation supplies.

When installing the new seals and gaskets, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This may involve cleaning the area where the seals and gaskets will be placed, applying lubricant if recommended, and securely tightening the sprinkler head back into place.

After replacing the seals and gaskets, turn on the main water supply and check for any signs of leakage. If the problem persists, it may indicate a different issue, such as a cracked sprinkler head or a faulty valve, which may require further troubleshooting or professional assistance.

Remember, regular maintenance and inspection of your irrigation system can help prevent issues like leaking sprinkler heads. It is recommended to check the condition of the seals and gaskets periodically and replace them as needed to ensure efficient and effective irrigation.

Stuck Valves


If your Rain Bird sprinkler head is leaking when it’s supposed to be off, one possible cause could be stuck valves. Stuck valves can prevent the water from completely shutting off, resulting in a continuous leak. There are a few common causes for stuck valves:

  • Debris: Dirt, sand, or other debris can accumulate inside the valve and prevent it from closing properly.
  • Corrosion: Over time, valves can become corroded, making it difficult for them to open and close smoothly.
  • Mechanical failure: In some cases, the valve itself may be faulty or worn out, causing it to get stuck in the open position.

Identifying the cause of the stuck valve is essential in order to fix the issue effectively.

Cleaning and lubricating

Once you’ve identified that a stuck valve is the cause of the leak, there are steps you can take to resolve the problem:

  1. Cleaning: Start by turning off the water supply to the sprinkler system. Remove the valve cover and inspect for any debris or buildup. Using a small brush or toothbrush, gently clean the valve and remove any obstructions. Be careful not to damage any components while cleaning.
  2. Lubricating: After cleaning, apply a lubricant specifically designed for sprinkler valves to ensure smooth operation. This will help prevent future sticking issues and extend the lifespan of the valve. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application.
  3. Replacing: If cleaning and lubricating the valve doesn’t resolve the issue, it may be necessary to replace the valve entirely. Consult with a professional or refer to the Rain Bird website for guidance on finding the correct replacement valve.

Regular maintenance and inspection of your sprinkler system can help prevent issues like stuck valves. It’s recommended to check your system periodically to ensure proper functioning and address any problems promptly.

For more detailed information and step-by-step instructions on fixing stuck valves in Rain Bird sprinkler heads, you can visit the Rain Bird official website at www.rainbird.com.

Cracked Housings

One common reason for a Rain Bird sprinkler head leaking when it is turned off is a cracked housing. The housing of the sprinkler head is designed to contain the water and direct it to the nozzle. However, over time, the housing may develop cracks due to various reasons such as freezing temperatures, accidental impacts, or age-related wear and tear.

How to diagnose:

To diagnose if the leaking is caused by a cracked housing, start by visually inspecting the sprinkler head. Look for any visible cracks or damage on the housing. You can also try gently tapping the housing with your hand to see if any water drips out.

If you notice any cracks or water leakage, it is likely that the housing is the culprit.

How to fix:

If you have determined that the leaking is indeed caused by a cracked housing, the best solution is to replace the sprinkler head. This is because repairing a cracked housing is not a viable option as it may compromise the integrity of the sprinkler head and lead to further leaks down the line.

Here are the steps to replace a Rain Bird sprinkler head with a cracked housing:

  1. Turn off the water supply to the sprinkler system.
  2. Dig around the sprinkler head to expose the riser.
  3. Unscrew the old sprinkler head from the riser using a wrench or pliers.
  4. Clean the threads on the riser using a wire brush to remove any debris.
  5. Apply plumber’s tape or pipe joint compound to the threads of the new sprinkler head.
  6. Screw the new sprinkler head onto the riser and tighten it securely.
  7. Turn on the water supply and check for any leaks.

By replacing the sprinkler head with a cracked housing, you can ensure that your sprinkler system operates efficiently without any leaks. Remember to choose a compatible replacement head that matches the specifications of your existing system.

For more detailed instructions on replacing a Rain Bird sprinkler head, you can visit the official Rain Bird website at www.rainbird.com.

Clogged or Damaged Nozzles

If you have noticed that your Rain Bird sprinkler head is leaking when it is turned off, the issue could be due to clogged or damaged nozzles. Nozzles are an important component of the sprinkler system as they control the water flow and distribution.

Over time, these nozzles can become clogged with debris or get damaged, leading to leaks and inefficient water usage.

Clearing debris

One of the main reasons for nozzle clogs is the accumulation of debris such as dirt, sand, or grass clippings. This can restrict the flow of water and cause leaks. To clear the debris, start by turning off the water supply to the sprinkler system.

Then, remove the nozzle from the sprinkler head by twisting it counterclockwise. Use a small brush or toothpick to carefully remove any debris that may be blocking the nozzle openings. Rinse the nozzle with water to ensure it is clean and free from any obstructions.

Finally, reattach the nozzle to the sprinkler head and turn on the water supply to check if the leak has stopped.

Replacing nozzles

If clearing the debris doesn’t solve the problem, it may be necessary to replace the damaged nozzles. Over time, nozzles can wear out or get damaged, leading to leaks. To replace a nozzle, start by turning off the water supply to the sprinkler system.

Then, unscrew the nozzle from the sprinkler head using a pair of pliers or a nozzle removal tool. Take note of the nozzle model and size to ensure you purchase the correct replacement. Install the new nozzle by screwing it into the sprinkler head clockwise until it is securely in place.

Turn on the water supply and check for any leaks. If the nozzle is still leaking, it may be necessary to contact a professional for further inspection.

For more detailed instructions on clearing debris or replacing nozzles, you can visit the official Rain Bird website at https://www.rainbird.com/. They provide step-by-step guides and video tutorials to help you troubleshoot and fix common sprinkler issues.

Other Causes to Check

While a leaking Rain Bird sprinkler head when off is commonly caused by a faulty valve, there are a few other potential causes to consider. By identifying these issues, you can ensure a proper diagnosis and fix for your sprinkler system.

Loose connections

One possible cause of a leaking sprinkler head when it’s turned off is loose connections. Over time, the connections between the sprinkler head and the main water line can become loose, causing water to seep out even when the system is not in use.

To fix this, carefully inspect all the connections and tighten them as needed. Be sure to turn off the water supply before attempting any repairs to avoid any accidents or further damage.

Damage pipes

Another potential cause of a leaking sprinkler head is damaged pipes. If the pipes leading to the sprinkler head are cracked or broken, water can escape and leak out even when the system is turned off. Inspect the pipes for any signs of damage, such as visible cracks or leaks.

If you notice any issues, it may be necessary to replace the damaged section of pipe. It’s recommended to contact a professional plumber or irrigation specialist for this type of repair to ensure it is done correctly.

Remember, it’s important to address any leaks in your sprinkler system promptly to prevent water waste and potential damage to your property. Regular maintenance and inspections can help identify and resolve any issues before they become major problems.

If you’re unsure about how to diagnose or fix a leaking sprinkler head, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from a professional.


Pinpointing the cause of a leaking Rain Bird sprinkler head will lead you to the proper repair. In most cases, replacing a simple gasket, seal, or nozzle will take care of it. For other issues like cracked housings or stuck valves, more work is required.

With this guide’s troubleshooting tips, you’ll be able to diagnose and fix those pesky leaks in your Rain Bird system. A little maintenance can save gallons of wasted water and keep your lawn happily hydrated.

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