Sprinkler System Problem

I just moved into an old house that has a built in sprinkler system. Unfortunately, one of the zones does not work, yet 2 of them do.
By researching previous posts, I've found some good ideas on how to check if it is the wiring by hooking up the wires from a zone that works to one that doesn't and testing it that way.
However, if it still does not work, apparently it is probably a valve problem. The thing is, I didn't know that each zone had a valve and I have no idea where a valve would be or what it would look like. I've looked everywhere near that zone for some sort of cutoff switch in the ground but can't find anything.
I'll be calling a sprinkler repair man if necessary but I'm trying to avoid it.
FOLLOW UP: For those with sytems... how long and how often should I water? I'm in Texas so the lawn requires frequent watering (I would think) but I'm also trying to keep my water bill at a REASONABLE level.
Thanks!
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WOW you dudes never fail to impress the hell out of me with your cheap assed ways. You need to water until the lawn looks like the land does up in the north east. Then you know you have enough water down.
On 29 Jun 2006 12:56:38 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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You really need to find the zone valves and operate them manually before troubleshooting the electrical. In any case the wire is probably open near the valve itself anyway. Start with where the hose hooks up and follow any pipes that don't lead into the house. The valves may or may not be buried but if they are they should be in an underground box with a lid at ground level it will be between the house and the sprinkler somewhere. If you really have no clue what they look like, go to HD and look at ones on the shelf.
As for how much water you can ask your neighbors and the guys at the local hardware store or you can start with 20 minutes twice a week then check the lawn for signs of stress or success and adjust up or down as required. A successful lawn needs mowing once a week a stressed lawn has brown struggling spots.
Individual sprinkler heads can be adjusted but I'll save that for later.
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You want to water infrequently and deeply. Shallow watering every day or two just encourages shallow roots, disease, and fungus. In summer, you will probably need to water every 4 to 7 days, depending on the soil, weather, etc. When you do water, it should get about 3/4 of an inch. An inch would be even better, but if you're paying for water it may not be worth it.
You can tell when a lawn needs water by looking at it. It will start to take on a blue/gray appearance in spots, especially areas adjacent to the street, where it will be hotter, etc. Don't be afraid to let it start to show some stress. That's generally better than overwatering it. A lawn will even go dormant for a long time without water and revive when it rains.
You want to water it in the early morning hours, when it's cooler and less likely to be windy, to minimize water loss. Time it so it will be done around 6AM. That will minimize the time it's wet. Worst practice is to water frequently and do it in the early evening. That leaves the lawn wet the longest.
Also, leave fertilizing for Spring and most importantly Fall.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:
Good stuff on the water infrequently and deeply! I was watering for 15 minutes every other day or so and I fertilized a few weeks ago cause the lawn is doing so poorly. I'm trying to save the thing b/c the previous tenants didn't water often.
I'll decrease how often and do a more thorough job from now on.
I was also watering around 8 PM so I'll switch that to the early morning.
Thanks for the tips.
Now I just have to find those valves.
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PipeDown wrote:
Thanks for the advice. I think I know exactly where the in ground box that you are describing between the house and the city water line is. I'll look in there for a valve.
However, wouldn't that be the valve to the house? I was under the impression that each zone had a valve? Will they all be located in one place or will they be near the zone?
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

There might be one manifold with all the valves on it, or they might be separate and individually located out in the yard. The former is more common, but it really just depends on how the system was designed.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

It's fairly common for all the valves to be together in a box set in the ground with the lid flush with the surface, simplifies the wiring and protects the valves from damage. Wouldn't think it would be very common for them to be completely buried.
Or, some people install their valves above ground.
In any case, start with the controller.
First you should check to make sure that all circuits are programmed to run. Maybe the previous owner shut off a circuit or 2 because of leaks he didn't want to fix?
If all circuits are programmed to run, follow the wires leaving the controller, they eventually have to end up at the valves.
Once you find the valves, try that wire-swapping thing. Or, spend $10 on a cheap voltmeter, and check each valve to see if it's getting voltage when it's supposed to be opening.
If a valve is getting voltage and not opening, replace the valve. If a valve is not getting voltage, trace the wire back and find out why.
Hope this helps, Jerry
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jerry snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Before going through the above, it should be checked that if the controller is putting out control voltage to each valve. If there are three zones then the three wires connected to the controller need be identified. Then manually operate the controller to sequence the controll output and see if each wire gets voltage in turn. My controller quit putting out control voltage for one of the five zones so I fixed by replacing the controller.
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In between the house and sprinklers not the street. Very often these are above ground or there will be a seperate manual valve to turn off water to the zone valves for the winter and for service. Just follow the pipes and try to visualize how they would get from point to point.

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

This website has much more than you would ever wish to know about lawn irrigation:
http://www.jessstryker.com/index.html
This is what a valve looks like:
http://www.irrigationtutorials.com/instal08.htm
If you have done any digging, you might have cut a wire. Installing a new valve isn't too tough - figuring out what is wrong with one can be. Depending on the layout of your lawn, the valves might be all together at the beginning of the lines - I would start looking (if they are buried and not in a valve box) along a straight line from the timer to the first sprinkler head in the zone that doesn't work.
We did hours and hours of searching for the three buried valves on our large condo lawn. With the last one, we ended up digging small holes every few feet along the supply line, then following line-of-sight to go along until we located the box. Wish I knew which dumbkoph buried them all :o)
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As for watering, check out your county or state extension service website. Optimum is usually l" of water a week, but in hot, dry areas that may be insanity. If you have no limitation on water, do it. Also, proper mowing technique can help conserve water by not cutting too short (dries out faster and impedes growth). Florida promotes turning lawn grass areas into xeriscapes and native plants to save on water; we also have reclaimed water. Warm season areas aren't the only ones trying to get away from chemicals and water wasted on grass.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

You really sound clueless on this, which is not a criticism, really. We are all clueless until we learn. You might try taking alook at the webpage link I posted below and see if that helps you identify what you are looking at. Also, any local library worth their paste should have oddles of sprinkler books that should be invaluable with pictures, etc.
It just sounds as if you have one valve that is not working. If so, it needs to be replaced. A few different ways to do that, but that sounds as if it might be beyond you at the moment. You may have to end up paying someone to come out, watch what they are doing so you will know next time.
However, if you are as stubborn as I am, you will probably spend a lot of time figuring it out and doing it yourself. More power to you.
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snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com wrote:
nd but can't find anything.

As clueless as I am, forgot the link...
http://www.rainbird.com/diy/products/valves/index.htm
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On 29 Jun 2006 12:56:38 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

How about doing away with the lawn and changing to a xeriscapic installation? Landscaping with water-saving plants can be not only aesthetic but would also cut your water bill a LOT!
Google with keywords "xeriscapic gardens" and/or "xeriscapic landscaping" will yield many sites with suggestions for water-saving plantings.
You might also get after your municipality to lower your rates if you change to a xeriscapic garden.
Persephone
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Each zone has a valve. You need to find them.
Each valve should have an electric solenoid and a small manual bypass knob. Turn the bypass know CCW until water flows - you should be able to hear the water flowing and the sprinklers should spray. (Don't back it out too far.) If that works, then you know your valve works and water is reaching the valve. Then turn on your timer and check for 24V at the solenoid. If 24V is reaching the solenoid you probably need to replace it. If no voltage the problem is in you wiring. Good luck.

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If you have the irrigation system already installed, and according to your questions, contacting a professional should be a good option, I think, for the beginning. After that, you should know most of things to do with your garden.
Another recommendation I should make, if you live in Texas and you have problems with water, is using a drip or micro-irrigation system. You can check the possibilities in this website:
http://www.plasgotirrigation.com/products.htm
I hope this information could be useful to you.
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com ha escrito:

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