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Monday, June 17th 2019, 11:39pm

Rain Bird zone stays On and history

Hi everyone

I am a new member as of today with an old problem. Initial problem was that zone 4 stayed On all the time until I turned the power off at the Orbit B-Hyve WiFi Controller by unplugging the transformer. My system was professionally installed (I use the term loosely, very loosely) 8 years ago by a one man landscaper when we had our home built in unfamiliar territory. We relocated to another state.

Initially all seven zones (6 Hunter and 1 Rain Bird) worked as advertised. This past year Zone 4 was always on as the Controller ran through its sequence. It didn’t bother me too much as I wasn’t using it hardly at all because the Fescue grass was extremely fast to recover from drought and the freeze but now we are relocating for the last time and I would feel guilty selling to someone with a partially operating Sprinkler System. No problem, I can fix anything! Right? Wrong!

I started looking for the manifold (s). Found one with three Hunter Valves, all working correctly. I couldn’t find the remaining four valves. I have three acres of grass but only about 3/4 acre is irrigated. I took over 1,000 photos when our home was being built just in case something needed to be found behind the drywall or under the sod. I found photos for everything except the Sprinkler System. Growl!!

I called the installer and asked him if he would come out to fix it. I told him I couldn’t find four zones and feared them to be buried under the grass. He confirmed it. He purposely buried them so he wouldn’t have to buy a multi valve box. He used single round valve boxes on every single valve. I told him I needed help and he said sure...$75/hour. No wonder he buried them, he would be the one to know where they were. Right? He told me he couldn’t remember where he buried them but he did say it might take a while to find them, at $75/hour of course. I regrettably caved in because I knew that any other contractor would be here forever trying to locate the four round lids that were somewhere on my three acres. The original contractor agreed to come out but he continually put me off, week after week, until I blew up and told him to stick it.

All I could think to do was to walk the yard hoping to find a depression in the grass. In this state of Missouri they freely cultivate rocks of all sizes so it is extremely difficult to dig an inch below the grass. I tried poking into the ground anyway with a long screwdriver but no luck. Just rocks. I walked the front yard for 1 1/2 weeks feeling for the right depression in the yard and I finally located three individual round valve boxes all somewhat in the same area. I checked each valve manually and they worked but I wasn’t able to get the Main Electric Valve (MV) to work. A close look disclosed the wire running from the MV to these three Hunter zone valves was ordinary #14 or #16 SPEAKER WIRE. UGHHH!

It has taken another 1 1/2 weeks to locate the last zone valve that was buried all by itself and having no luck locating it by digging around the three found valves I went back to using my talented feet, feeling for a depressed area in the yard, and I found it, a Rain Bird valve buried 6” under the grass.

When the contractor installed our system my wife asked him for a schematic or layout drawing showing exactly where the valves were located and the installer never provided this. Intentionally or unintentionally, who knows.

I apologize for the lengthy post but I hope one other homeowner who is thinking about paying someone to install a Sprinkler System, will read this and qualify the would be irrigation specialist to be sure he is what he says he is. Check his credentials and licenses and his client list.

Now my Rain Bird problem. The Zone 4 always came on as soon as the Main Valve is energized when any other zone has been turned on. I dug the dirt from around the valve and removed the solenoid for inspection. I removed all wires from the Controller and connected the solenoid to the Zone 4 attaching screws and turned the Zone 4 ON in the Controller and there is not any movement of the blue plunger. It just hums. I tried another zone connection and got the same results. I bought a new solenoid and got the same result. I see a small hole in the blue actuator of the solenoid and thought that maybe the blue plunger piece is not movable, just a rod that rides up and down within the blue piece of the solenoid. Is this true?

I am at a loss for ideas in solving the problem of Zone 4 not turning OFF. I haven’t removed the diaphragm yet.




Posts: 2,448

Location: USA


Tuesday, June 18th 2019, 12:37am

Nice read and talented feet. haha
The key here is "master valve". Every time a zone comes on the master valve also comes on. It supplies water to the zone valves. The number 4 valve needs repair. There's something wrong with it so it comes on when any of the other valves come on.
If you'd like to exclude the controller, disconnect the number 4 wire from the controller. Does it still come on with the others? Most likely yes. Repair or replace the number 4 valve.
75 bucks an hour isn't out of line for a true pro. Sounds like he's not though. Where I live rates vary between 64 and 110. The 110 an hour isn't the best because well, I don't charge that much. =)


Tuesday, June 18th 2019, 6:59pm

When I checked the solenoid, by connecting the two leads to Zone 4 post and the Common post (all other wires were not connected), I noticed that the blue portion at the bottom of the solenoid does not move when energized. It just hums. Is this normal or should it retract or extend? A replacement acted in the same manner.



Posts: 2,448

Location: USA


Tuesday, June 18th 2019, 11:24pm

The blue thing is just a filter. It doesn't move. If you want to see what's in there, pry the blue thing off with a tiny screwdriver. You can always put it back on after you've satisfied your curiosity.


Wednesday, June 19th 2019, 1:23pm

How does the solenoid work mechanically? I understand the electronics, but how does it allow water to pass? On the Rain Bird website they have a video showing a cross section of a working valve that shows something moving up and down that allows water to flow and change the water pressing down on the diaphragm. So what moves because of the electromagnetic field that is created by applying 24 volts to the solenoid. Is the solenoid only suppose to hum and move nothing? I am only trying to understand the operation so that I don’t continue to invest time and money erroneously. I really appreciate your responses and suggestions because I called and spoke to a Rain Bird Support person a week ago and I didn’t feel like this person could answer my questions thoroughly from any personal experience. Finding this website is the best thing I have found thus far because your suggestions make sense to me.

Again Thanks for your help.




Posts: 2,448

Location: USA


Thursday, June 20th 2019, 1:43am

Ok, you made me take the blue screen off and look. Apparently the solenoid has an encapsulated plunger. You'll have to cut one in half to see it. I didn't see anything online to describe it or a breakdown diagram. It wasn't an exhaustive search simply because I'm nearly exhausted. Too many jobs these days.

I'd say that the water goes up through the center hole when the solenoid is activated, then it comes back out through the screen.

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "mrfixit" (Jun 20th 2019, 3:02am)


Thursday, June 20th 2019, 1:45pm

I guess the hum is normal then.


Thursday, June 20th 2019, 10:16pm

Well I cleaned the solenoid hole thoroughly before installing the hummer solenoid and connected only the Main Valve for the irrigation system that is dedicated with a back flow at the well. Power ON. No water floeingout of Zone 4, which is exactly what I wanted. Valve had to been dirty I guess. Reconnected the wires for all seven zones and all work. Ta Da!
I did find that the original installer did not use the same color wire as the Common throughout. He used, black, red, brown and white. That made it extremely difficult when I was tracing the Common wires for continuity. I found that he also used Brown for one of the zone valves as well. When the wires are dirty the Brown sure looks like Black!
The idiot needs to go before the Almighty Irrigation Judge and be fined quite heavily. Ha ha!
Took me almost four weeks to straighten this bandaid system out. Thanks a million for all of your help. You're the man!! :thumbsup:

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