You are not logged in.

Dear visitor, welcome to SPRINKLER TALK FORUM - You Got Questions, We've Got Answers. If this is your first visit here, please read the Help. It explains how this page works. You must be registered before you can use all the page's features. Please use the registration form, to register here or read more information about the registration process. If you are already registered, please login here.

texasf

New Member

1

Sunday, March 4th 2012, 4:52pm

6 zone system runs all zones with low pressure

My wife and I bought this house just over 8 months ago. The house was built in 1996. We required that the previous owner install a new controller which is a Rain Bird ESP-M. Due to the drought in Texas, we are under stage 3 watering restrictions so we can only run our system once every 2 weeks. About 6 weeks ago I turned on the system by starting each zone in order manually. Each zone was set to water about 6 or 7 minutes. A couple hours later I could hear the water running. I went out to check what it was and discovered that all of the zones were running simultaneously with consequent low pressure. Water was either flooding my lawn or running down the street or alley. I finally found the master valve in a "Irrigation box" near the main water box in the parkway just off the street curb. I shut it off. I have not been able to fix the system since. It does not matter what I do with the controller, the zones will all run simultaneously if the master valve is turned on. I can only find one solenoid box which is the front yard. It seems like there should be 6 solenoid boxes but I can only find one. There is 24 volts showing between the red wire and the blue wire inside my controller. There is apparently no power at the front yard solenoid box. I stripped the blue wire in there and crossed it with the white wire but nothing showed on my multimeter.

Ideas? Suggestions?

Mitchgo

Supreme Member

Posts: 502

Location: Seattle

2

Monday, March 5th 2012, 2:19am

The red and blue is the inlet power leading into the controller. Touch the common port to each individual zone port and see how much power you are getting

With the controller in the off position and the water turned on do all the zones run simultaneously still? Start with resetting your programming- unplug/ reset the controller. Also fully verify this is a electrical issue too by unplugging the controller and turning on the main shut off.

If the controller is still doing this after the reset then the controller is probably fried.

texasf

New Member

3

Tuesday, March 6th 2012, 2:01pm

All zones run when the controller is unplugged

The very first night this happened, I unplugged the controller. All zones continued to run. Since then I have also turned off the main valve, unplugged the controller and then turned on the main valve. All zones turn on again. As I said before, all zones run no matter what I do with the controller: unplugged, manual operation, auto operation, on position, off position .... all zones run.

Just today I found a second solenoid box in the front yard so now I have something else to work with. It's going to rain within the next 24 hours or so here so I will probably not get to work with it again until this coming weekend. Just curious, why would they put two solenoid boxes in the same side of the front yard? You would think they would be spread out. Unless, of course, one of those boxes is for the landscaping in front of the house (on the front wall). Both of these boxes are right on the surface so I am puzzled why I can't find the other boxes.

Thanks again for the suggestions. Everything helps. I just don't want to spend 5 or 6 hundred dollars on a repair service.

4

Tuesday, March 6th 2012, 2:45pm

As far as valve box placement, there are two schools of thought. Some put all valves in one area, often on a manifold. Others put each valve at the head of the zone it controls. This means you might have 2 in the front, 1 on the side and 3 in back, or some combination.
A few questions:
If you open the controller panel, how many wires come in? You should have six control wires and 1 ground. This would just confirm the number of valves we are looking for.
When you say you turned off the main valve, how? Flow control handle? If so, does the other valve have a flow control you can use to turn it off?
Speaking of the main valve, is it the same as you found in the second box? Look something like THIS? Or is it a backflow or ball valve?
If you need to find the other valves you can rent a valve locator . They are pretty easy to use but we do assume the wire is not cut between the controller and the valve.
I included links to pictures to make sure we are talking about the same thing.


Mitchgo

Supreme Member

Posts: 502

Location: Seattle

5

Tuesday, March 6th 2012, 9:23pm

With the controller unplugged and all zones still running with the water on this is most likely a physical condition and not an electrical condition ( for the moment)

Did you ever turn on this system and run it before hand prior to the 6 weeks ago for the initial turn on? Any kind of recent digging and pipe repairs? It's possible there was a large amount of debris in the main line that has now fauled up all the valves .

Take a valve apart and inspect for debris inside.

Also make sure all your solenoids are taught ( not tight) and the bleed screws are turned off on all the valves

Wet_Boots

Supreme Member

Posts: 4,074

Location: Metro NYC

6

Wednesday, March 7th 2012, 10:08am

Every zone being stuck open can be a low-pressure failure, helped out by having a master valve. Zone valves with flow controls are the best safeguard against this sort of thing.

texasf

New Member

7

Saturday, March 10th 2012, 10:15am

Description of system as best I can

I'll try to describe what I have.
I have a Rainbird ESP-M controller in the garage mounted on the wall. There are 6 red/blue pairs of wires in there so yes, we got a 6 valve system. Out in the parkway next to the curb there is a large green box. It is only about 4 feet from the master water box (city). It has what appears to be the Febco Double Check Assembly. That is the box I call the master valve box. It has a blue handle in it (one of two) that I use to shut off the water to the whole system. When I open it back up all of the sprinker heads in all of the zones turn on. Some turn on more than others. The one nearest the mail box just leaks out under the grass and out over the curb. Same with the sprinkler head that is furthest away at the far end of the driveway next to the alley. The ones near the a/c units on the north side actually spray as well as the ones in the back yard. But none of them spray full pressure like normal operation.
I have two solenoid boxes: small round green boxes. They have a bunch of wires in there (6)and one solenoid black plastic cylinder sticking straight up. That cylinder is only about 1 inch in diameter. In one box it is unlabeled and looks to have been maybe blue in color originally. In the other box it says on on top and off on the bottom. On the side it says either 1/4 turn or 3/4 turn. I can't read it as the number on top is worn. In between the on and the off is a slot in the top surface. A slot to be operated by a large flat blade screwdriver I think?
That's my system so far as I know. I have probed extensively around the back two corners of the house to try to find other boxes with no success. Extensively means I probed well over an hour on each corner.
I operated the system normally from July through about December 1st. At that time we went to phase 3 water restrictions and are only allowed to water every two weeks on our designated day.
My brother-in-law who has his master plumbers ticket says he believes it is a low pressure situation. He says that the solenoids open and close by water pressure. Low pressure causes the diaphrams to stay open and water to leak through. We are in a drought situation here in the north Texas area. We believe the over all water pressure from the city to be not as high as it use to be. I empty out scale (green stuff) from my kitchen sink screen about every two weeks now. As to the digging. We have had none in our lawn but the city had something dug up in the street about 2 blocks away maybe 3-4 weeks before this problem occurred in January. Based on all this, I believe the last post to be correct and that we have a water pressure problem.

Wet_Boots

Supreme Member

Posts: 4,074

Location: Metro NYC

8

Saturday, March 10th 2012, 12:32pm

Come back with photos. At worst, you may need to replace all the valves with new ones that have flow controls.

wsommariva

Supreme Member

Posts: 332

Location: Northern New Jersey

9

Saturday, March 10th 2012, 5:04pm

That Febco double check valve is a backflow preventer and not a master valve. Can you measure your water pressur? A gauge is not expensive. By chance, check that double check valve and make sure both valves are fully open. Also call the town's water utility and ask about the pressure.

texasf

New Member

10

Monday, March 12th 2012, 3:39pm

can't post photos

I have photos but I can't post them here. I took a pic of the parkway box assembly (that I believe is a Febco) and took it to setting 0 in my Photoshop elements. It is still 31k in size so the forum software won't accept it. I would be happy to send photos to anybody if there is a safe way to exchange email addresses.

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "texasf" (Mar 13th 2012, 12:42pm)


Rate this thread