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Starting Member


Friday, February 24th 2017, 4:50pm

Rainbird Modular ESP had all vavles open at the same time.

I had a temporarily vacant house with a Rain Bird Modular ESP controller that due to winter and a broken shrub head, I had turned off. So there was no one using any water regularly; previous months usage was less than 1K. The controller had been in the off position for approximately 2 months. I had been away for a few days and when I returned the sprinkler system was on and water was standing all around so it had been running for some time. As I said the switch was in the off position. Changing it to any other position didn't accomplish turning the water off. Also the LCD was blank with no characters visible. I unplugged the transformer and the valves closed and the water turned off. Later after the need for watering was resumed I still had a blank screen and now the system would not run. I pressed the reset button and still nothing. Then I unplugged the transformer again. Upon returning to the controller it was fully operational and appears to be working fine now. Since then the water company sent me the bill for that period stating the system consumed or wasted 83K gallons to the tune of nearly $300 total. Rain Bird tech support wasn't absolutely sure of the cause of the failure but speculated a power surge or similar electrical event had caused a glitch in the operation and activated the valve or valves. So obviously there are multiple questions:
  • Any techs or anyone else out there ever heard of such a thing?
  • Is Rain Bird's explanation "more likely than not" what occurred or is there another or other possibilities?
  • Is this system trustworthy to keep plugged in and to avoid another multi-thousand gallon waste event? The home is no longer vacant so any future event likely would not waste nearly as much.
  • Should I just replace the controller? I will likely do this regardless, but please answer my first 3 questions anyway.
Thanks in advance!


Advanced Member

Posts: 111

Location: Omaha, Nebraska, USA


Wednesday, March 1st 2017, 11:03am

I have seen various controllers that continuously fired one or more zones after a lightning strike. I am kind of surprised it started working after unplugging it and plugging it back in. Usually it requires a new controller or at least a new module. In some cases a power surge can scramble things and unplugging/plugging solves the issue. I would say the ESP Modular controller is a generally reliable controller. If it seems to be working ok after a few cycles I would probably trust it.

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