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Starting Member


Sunday, June 10th 2012, 7:12am

Need help tracing broken wires from ditch witch

We recently added a new section of sod to our acre and needed to add new sprinkler heads to that area, so we rented a ditch witch and tied into the existing heads closest to that area. The problem is that I ran into a 3/4 water line and about 8 red wires and one white one. I knew they were sprinkler lines, and since I'm quite familiar with electrical repair, thought I'd just splice them with some grease caps and shrink wrap. I was wrong.
1st problem: when I shut off the main valve in front of the control box, the 3/4 line keeps pumping water out, so I'm not sure if either the valve is the shutoff to the sprinkler system, or the 3/4 line is a sprinkler line. I had to shut off my main water line to get it to stop. The wires were running along side the 3/4 pipe, so it has to be sprinkler water line. I had to have water to my house, so I just got some more 3/4 pipe and slip fittings to fix it.
2nd problem: I decided to just splice all the red wires on one side to a matching red wire on the other side of the ditch. I wasn't worried about keeping the zone numbering, and figured I could just hook it all back up, turn each zone on, see where water was coming out, and slap a new number on that zone. I also spliced the 1 white wire back to itself.
So, after all the wires are spliced, we start going through the zones on the controller, and some zones work great, but some zones seem to have 2 zones of sprinklers on at once, and when we turn on a certain zone, it won't shut off, even when I turn the controller completely off, and since the main valve doesn't seem to work, you can't get the darn thing to turn off at all!
I can live with the 3/4 pipe shutoff problem. I'm planning on getting a valve for it and putting a box over it and the wires so I can just shut it off there. I can't live with the zones not shutting off because it will just waste water. The only way to shut them off is to take each red wire and touch it to all the other red wires on the other side until I find the right combination. After testing 64 wires, in a dirt ditch, I'm ready to pull my hair out!!
Any help as to how to trace the wires, or what wires I'm even tracing would be greatly appreciated. I have a multimeter and know how to use it. Is there anything else I should be using?
Thanks in advance!!


Supreme Member

Posts: 5,306

Location: Metro NYC


Sunday, June 10th 2012, 8:01am

Go back to your splices, and undo every one of them - now you are ready to label each wire to correspond to the timer station it is connected to - confirm that the one white wire is actually connected to the controller common - activate zones, one by one and find and label the corresponding wire

Central Irrigation

Supreme Member

Posts: 371

Location: Central Minnesota


Sunday, June 10th 2012, 5:50pm

Sounds to me you have more than one issue.
You hacked up the mainline by the sounds of it. Which would mean that large amts. of dirt and debris are being loaded up in your valves. Clean and flush all the valves and mainline. That will take care of the valve issues. As for your wiring, I would do the same as you did. Connect all the colors and rewire at the controller. Unless you wanted to take the time to label each incoming wire and activate each outgoing wire. To me, it's not worth it.



Posts: 2,337

Location: USA


Sunday, June 10th 2012, 8:20pm

64 wires sounds like a nightmare to me. There's probably some spare wires in there not being used.
Like Boots said one of the red wires might be being used as a ground wire.
Maybe find two wires that work where you cut them open ( one ground one hot ). Then connect the red wires one at a time to the hot wire that works and see if it turns something on. You'll know it's being used if it does. Hook the white wire up where you cut it or this wont work.


Monday, June 11th 2012, 8:49am

Ok. Y'all know I'll recommend products but rarely push hard for one.

In this case, I'm pushing.
Armada PRO-48K Sprinkler Valve and Controller. Tone identify wires, check power, etc.
It will be well worth it.

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