Sprinkler Leak Problem

Hello,
I've got a perplexing sprinkler system problem and would be grateful for any advice. The overall situation: underground sprinkler system is in a new house but was probably installed on the cheap (the seller is no help). I'm converting everything to a drip system.
The main problem: one zone continues to run 24/7, much more than a leak, closer to normal operating pressure. This happens any time the gate valve from the water main to the sprinkler system is open. When the normal 7-zone cycle is run, the zone turns on like the rest, but continues to flow forever after it's supposed to shut off. The only way I've been able to stop the flow is to secure the whole system by turning off the water supply (the gate valve). I believe this problem has existed for a long time, since I recall seeing leaks when I was repairing some broken heads in that zone (I figured they'd eventually bleed down).
Things I've tried to no avail: 1) Installed a regulator for the whole H2O system at 50psi. 2) Purged valve (Irritrol model 205TF) using external port. 3) Cleaned out solenoid seat. 4) Opened valve cover, checked diaphragm. No apparent problems, valve completely clean, diaphragm perfect. 5) Replaced solenoid with a new one. 6) Disconnected both solenoid leads. Expected valve to close, but water continues to run as before. 7) At the control box, connected the valve wires to an unused Zone 8. 8) Connected the solenoid wires to those for the valve adjacent to it in the in-ground box and switched the wiring in the control box accordingly (effectively using a known "good valve's" wiring). 9) Swapped out the valve in question with a completely new valve (the identical valve, only it has been rebranded model 2500TF).
The water has continued to flow in all cases, any time the water supply is on. I've about reached the end of my rope. Any ideas to solve this problem will be much appreciated. Thank you for reading.
Henry
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Henry wrote:

First thing I'd try is swapping zone 7(troubled one) with another one. Wiring swap. Then you'll be able to narrow down the problem in no time. I have 7 zone Rain Maker in my yard. So far it's been OK for 3 years. I have a feeling your controller is ???? Tony
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when you disconnect the wires to the valve it should close. period. if it doesn't the valve is no good.
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<snip>

Are you using the same soleniod with the new valve?
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Swap the leaking zone valve in it's entirety with one that doesn't leak. If a different zone now leaks, just rplace the entire zone valve.
Sometimes diaphrams look perfect when they're not.
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Henry wrote:

What happens when you remove the valve in question and block off the line from the water supply?
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Henry) wrote in message

The controller is a Rainbird 8-zone. When I swapped the new valve, it came with a new solenoid as well, although I already tried a separate new solenoid on the old valve body. I'd have thought the all new valve would fix the problem but amazingly it has not. Thanks for your ideas so far. I still have no idea where to look now. Guess I'll try to retrace my steps.
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Henry wrote:

You swapped zone 8(unused one) with troubled zone 7. I'd swap zone 6 instead 8. 6 is known good working circuit. 8 is status unknown. One more try I guess. Also trouble shooting with meter? Solenoid won't actuate without power. Tony
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I have a feeling the OP isn't sure exactly which zone is leaking. Maybe he swapped out the wrong valve.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (HA HA Budys Here) wrote in message

It's my zone 4 that runs on and on. I have tried connecting the valve to the unused zone 8 at the control box, as well as the known good zone 3, which is the valve physically right next to it. The same result in all cases is that the water continues to flow after shutoff should happen. Nothing I've tried changes the result at all: zone 4 comes on like normal (there are some popup heads in that zone. These popups are able to hold back the unwanted water pressure, since they shut down at the end of the cycle, but it's the drip heads in zone 4 that continue to flow.) My last thought was that I have a partially stuck open valve, but the new valve made no difference.
Basically I don't see how this is even possible. The steps I've tried should have isolated a problem. Unless I've missed something. Maybe someone else can give me a better perspective on this. I'm pretty frustrated. Really appreciate you all trying to help out.
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-Is it possible all you're really seeing is the zone draining?
-Have you removed the valve (the bad valve) leaving the zone connected to absolutely nothing, and turned the system back on to be sure that the valve you're replacing is indeed the one that is allowing water to pass?
-is it possible this zone might be backfed from a manual valve somewhere? I know a plumber who did this for his wife who didn't want to have to trek down to the basement everytime she wanted a couple of zones to get a little extra water.
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Truncated.

Removing the bad valve altogether has moved this problem along. Water continues to flow, but from where I have no idea. I gave it plenty of time to drain if that was it. The heads/drippers in question have always been actuated with the rest of zone 4. Why would part of a zone have a separate/additional water supply? Seems like a crazy design. There's nothing unusual about this part of the yard compared to the rest. I think I'm gonna have to call in a professional. Got no clue how to locate a phantom valve or water supply. Thanks for all of the help. If you have any further ideas they are always welcome.
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Are all the zone valves in the system in one location, or is there more than one manifold? I could see someone making a mistake and connecting 2 zones together, so what yo think is the zone 4 in it's entirety is actually supposed to be 2 different zones.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (HA HA Budys Here) wrote in message

Your thoughts have helped me finally solve this puzzle. After some strategic digging, I found another valve buried in the yard that controls the leaky drippers. There was in fact a major tear in the rubber diaphragm. I had always thought these heads were part of zone 4, as they would come on at the same time. I don't remember exactly how it was all wired originally (the wiring seemed screwy when I first tried to fix the problem, and I've changed the wiring many times since), but I think there were two valves connected to the same color control wire. So while I finally have the leak under control, I need to figure out how to wire these 8 valves. Now I'm certain I have 8 valves, but only 7 wire colors plus white which is being used for common. I thought I read somewhere that only one zone can be turned on at a time. Guess I'll have to try sharing a colored wire bewteen two valves, though this doesn't sound right. Maybe the monkeys that installed the system used the wrong wires rather than one designed for an 8-zone controller.
I'd like to say thanks again to the few of you guys that have taken the time to read about my problem and offer ideas. It's a huge help to talk things through with other people.
Henry
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I'm glad you finally figured it out. Apparently, your faulty zone is actually 2 zones fed from different valves, but they come on together with the same zone number. As another poster pointed out, these leaky drippers operate at a lower pressure, so that explains why they're on a seperate valve. But the installers put in 2 seperate valves due to different operating pressures, and making them seperate zones either wasn't necessary or wasn't feasable.
Maybe there was a major price jump to have it as a 9th zone.
Wiring-wize, the extra valve is simply connected between common (white) and whatever color resprsents the zone# you want it to come on with. Most controllers can operate 2 valves simultaniously, as long as you have the needed water pressure.
Or you could invest in a seperate timer for this odball zone.
Or disconnet it completely if the zone isn't needed anymore. I have disconnected 3 zones from my 12 zone system since it's installation. One because I converted many heads to soaker hoses instead, and 2 because those zones were for newly planted hedge shrubs only, and after 3 years they're mature enough to get by without any special watering needs.
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Henry wrote:

Glad you found your problem. The reason they use zones in these systems is that most places don't have enough water pressure to handle all the heads, so you break them up into zones (and, at my home, set them to go off really early in the morning, so when I get up to shower, the sprinkling is done). It follows that the best solution for you would be to either wire the drip zone to a separate controller, or to wire everything to a new controller that can handle all the stations. I haven't priced them lately, but my impression is that controllers are relatively inexpensive, and a newer one may have features, such as ease of programming, that weren't on the old ones.
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Henry wrote:

I've not seen a system that has drip heads (which require very low water pressure) and pop ups (which require high water pressure) in the same zone, and I don't understand why your drip heads are not being blown out if they are in a high pressure zone. This leads me to think that the drip heads are possibly in a separate zone that is separately controlled. I suppose there could be a pressure reducer somewhere downstream, but I've never seen one built that way. If you have something like a stethoscope, you could listen in the control box to see where there is water flow when all the zones are off.
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