At Elite Lawn Sprinklers, Pools & Spas, I get and respond to many service calls for clients due to an unusually high water bill. Most people will automatically think there is a leak in the lawn sprinkler system. Now while this certainly is a possibility, it is not necessarily the case.
Around 35% of the time, I have found this is due to improper programming of the Irrigation Controller. Most people do not understand what they are doing and attempt to re-program the controller, which causes more harm then good. Having the lawn sprinkler system running 2-3 times per day is just not smart.
A good rule of thumb is to water your lawn once every 3 days. The key is to water longer and less frequently in order to encourage the roots to go deep instead of staying shallow.
OK so I got a bit off point for a minute there, sorry about that. The main point is that I have seen high water bills due to improper programming of the controller. If you have a power surge or an outage, your controller may have lost it’s programming and may have defaulted back to factory settings of 2 times per day for 10 minutes per zone.
If there happens to be a leak in the main line of the lawn sprinkler, you should be able to observe this by watching the water meter. Make sure no other water is being used in the house. If the water meter is running at a decent speed, there is a good sized leak which should be noticeable somewhere. If you aren’t sure, log the numbers on the meter and return in about an hour to see what the meter is reading. If no leak is noticed on the main line, it could be a leak in the zone pipe.
With patience, knowledge and keen observation any problem can be properly diagnosed and solved.