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DencoPablo

New Member

Posts: 4

Location: Denton County, TX

1

Wednesday, July 6th 2022, 12:57am

None of my sprinkler stations are firing.

Hello folks, first time here as I found this helpful site after poking around "dreaming up" my next home project at Sprinkler Warehouse. Thanks in advance for any assistance you might provide.

So I am in DFW, Texas and as any of you from this area know, it has gotten hot and dry quite early this year. I am a conservationist by nature and through early June, we were getting just enough rain to keep things green and growing. Then the oven came on and the skies went cloudless and by two weeks ago, I realized I could not avoid watering any longer. Long story short, went to fire up my always dependable 20 year irrigation system and nothing! Got busy with work travel and family issues and just got back around to figuring out what was wrong after the long weekend.

For the record, to get this out of the way: System was installed in 2002 or 2003. Same original controller--Irritrol Rain Dial, so I have probably exceeded the expected life of such things (and getting a Wi-Fi controller seems a fun new toy). I did a complete head/body replacement for all sprinkers about 10 years ago. Probably getting close to doing that again (considering the Hunter MP/RainBird RVAN but that is a discussion for another day). All original Irritrol valves but would have no idea what model, just know the installer was a proponent of Irritrol; in fact my biggest concern is finding my valves should I need to access for diagnosis/replacement. Twenty years with no issues means they are buried under the turf so there will be several hours of hunting those down with a rod or pole. IIRC, they were installed 2 units per box and I have a pretty good idea where one is--the other two will be hunting and pecking. System has worked flawlessly every time I have fired it up since I have had it. It worked just fine when I last turned it on in late October 2021. Oh and I do not have a Master Valve--or at least there is not one wired into the controller. Just seven wires--white common and six other colors to valves 1-6.

On to my troubleshooting: I am pretty handy with electrical and plumbing, although no expert or pro. But comfortable enough to handle most things myself, especially with plenty of websites and YouTube videos to fill in the blanks. So I grabbed my multimeter and went to work.

Power Supply to the controller--check, putting out 29+ volts.

Tested the stations by measuring voltage between common and each station main--check, each putting out +/- 27.8 volts. But here is an interesting find, maybe my first issue--by accident, I tested station #5 when I meant to test station #6 after going one by one, activating each station and testing it. So I had activated #6 but put the multimeter probe on #5. It registered 27.8 volts. Realized my error and tested #6. Also 27.8 volts. That shouldn't be, right? Shouldn't the station activated be the only one with measurable voltage?


Went through the entire sequence, activating #1 through #6 stations individually again but testing every combination and no matter which station is activated, EVERY station is registering proper voltage. Would this indicate the likely culprit is the controller itself? Power should only be applied to the station that is activated, right? (This would be best case scenario--no digging for valves and I have justification for getting my WiFi controller!!!) Although worst case scenario, could the controller activating all valves at once fried some or all of them?

Tested resistance--second issue found; ohms did not register at any station and the meter remained at default 1 for each station. OK, so maybe a break in the common line before the first valve? Or maybe it is related to the controller being bad? Or did the aforementioned power to all valves create the bad readings because the valves are all shot?

Any thoughts or suggestions for further testing before getting down and dirty uncovering the valves and testing them at field level? I have half a mind to get a new controller before spending hours in the yard and see if that solves the problem. I can do that after work tomorrow or Thursday. Or am I just kidding myself that it is the controller when it is a valve or wiring problem? Unless the controller fried the valves though, I find it unlikely that all of them would fail at the same time.

Thanks again for any help.

EEto

Advanced Member

Posts: 66

Location: east coast

2

Wednesday, July 6th 2022, 9:58am

I read your post as as saying that when you turn any zone on that you have voltage (27v+_) going to all stations terminals. If that is correct, your system will not operate properly because there is too much flow. Try leaving #1 station wire connected and disconnect the remaining station wires at the controller. See if #1 comes on ok. You can go through this process with all zones to verify each zones operation. It does appear you might have a bad board on the controller, but this will at least tell you if the zones are working properly
for starters.

EEto

Advanced Member

Posts: 66

Location: east coast

3

Wednesday, July 6th 2022, 10:02am

Also, test your resistance with the wires removed from the controller zone terminals for more accurate results.

DencoPablo

New Member

Posts: 4

Location: Denton County, TX

4

Wednesday, July 6th 2022, 1:19pm

EEto,

Thanks for the response.

Yes, you read correctly. No matter which station is activated, every station, 1-6, is powered. And side note that I did not mention in already too long original post, after running through each station several times doing testing that transformer got really hot. Not burn your hand hot but definitely hotter than I think it should be. I chose to leave it unplugged after testing last night.

That is a great idea. I will put your suggestion into action tonight and disconnect all stations but one at a time and see if they work. I will test the resistance as I go through the process as well. I will do this and post my findings. I am guessing that if each station connected individually works as it should, I have my answer--new controller it is.

Fingers crossed. I don't relish hunting and digging for my valves in the 105 degree heat we have going on right now. That said, this minor setback, no matter how it plays out, tells me I should find those boxes and know where they are for future reference. But hopefully that can be done in 80 degree October and not July!

Thanks again for the help. :thumbup:

EEto

Advanced Member

Posts: 66

Location: east coast

5

Wednesday, July 6th 2022, 2:00pm

Yes, Let us know your findings

DencoPablo

New Member

Posts: 4

Location: Denton County, TX

6

Wednesday, July 6th 2022, 9:58pm

Sad trombone...

So I moved forward with EEto's suggestion, unfortunately without success.

Pulled all the wires except station 1 and common. Fired it up but no luck. Ran through each station with only that station and the common connected but none of them worked. Also, did not get any resistance at any station when testing for that.

One observation, when all of the wires are hooked up as they should be, I get 27.8 volts on each. But when I had only one station connected, I get 25.6 volts. That was true for all six. Maybe that is normal but it was interesting that the voltage was constant in each situation and for all six stations.

So back to square one, with a pretty good idea of what my plans will be starting at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning. I still suspect it is (or at least part of the issue) is the controller. I have half a mind to buy a new controller and see what happens before starting the process of uncovering the valves and tracing the wires, because it seems so unlikely that all the valves went bad at once or that undisturbed wiring simply went bad all of a sudden. But then that doesn't account for getting no resistance on the Ohm meter.

Any other thoughts?

EEto

Advanced Member

Posts: 66

Location: east coast

7

Thursday, July 7th 2022, 7:46pm

No lightning strike, power surges that you know of ?? burn spots on controller? Either way you look at it, there should not be voltage to all
stations at the same time. Does your meter show an "open" when you test ohms. What model controller do you have?

DencoPablo

New Member

Posts: 4

Location: Denton County, TX

8

Sunday, July 10th 2022, 11:48am

Hey EEto,

Sorry for the delay getting back. No, no lightning strike or power surges.

I bought a new controller. Hooked it up, same problems--power at each station when only one is powered up. So ruled out it being the controller.

Bought a cheap wire tracer, cheaper than I would have liked to buy but nothing in the mid-range available without ordering and would not have been here until Monday or Tuesday. It works to a point but once the wires go to their deepest and get halfway across the property, I am unable to pick up any signal.

I have probed and searched and traced until at my wits end. It is/was 105+ degrees the past two days, so that is a beat down and slows down the process as the stopping to cool and hydrate interrupts progress.

Based on all that I have tested, read, and understand (and I could be wrong), the key indicator seems to be the fact that all stations receive power when only one station is activated. It makes me think that something is shorting across the common to send voltage to all stations. It would seem most likely this short is occurring before or at the first valve. Again, just taking an educated guess, but if one of the solenoids has gone bad, then it seems plausible that voltage is travelling across the line and the common and creating the situation I have. Find and replace/repair the bad valve and this is rectified.

But I simply cannot find the valves! It may be time to call in a pro or someone with a high end wire tracer!

EEto

Advanced Member

Posts: 66

Location: east coast

9

Monday, July 11th 2022, 9:20pm

Prior to your last post and changing out the controller, I was going to suggest disconnecting all the zone wires from the controller and testing each station terminal voltage with a solenoid hooked directly to the controller. (or use a voltage meter). That would probably have told you enough about the controller as to weather it should be changed. If the controller is operating as it should, then you have to look at the field wiring just as you suggested. Absent a good tracker, you will have to logically just poke around, but thats a crap shoot at
best. I would look first between mainline point of connection and first zone of heads. good luck

EEto

Advanced Member

Posts: 66

Location: east coast

10

Monday, July 18th 2022, 7:47pm

And the outcome was.................?

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