Sprinkler System Problem

Moved into an older home a couple years ago with an existing sprinkler system. It has never worked correctly and I am trying to get the system back into shape. Just replaced the backflow valves and got the system to partially work but can not leave the water and the timer on. It appears that one of the valves is stuck open or partially open which allows one of the stations to run even when the station is off. I know that I need to replace the station valve but I can't find the damn thing.
The system has five stations and I have only been able to locate the controls for three of the stations. All five have been buried and there is no plot of where to locate them. The three that I have located were in different areas and not near the areas being serviced. I can only guess as to where the remaining two are. I am on a large cul-d-sac lot with the sprinkler covering the entire lot.
Does anyone have a suggestion on how I can find the remaining two valves without destroying the entire yard in the process? I found the third valve when digging up and replacing one of the flower beds. Oh yes, the damn power cord for the system is also buried under the patio.
PS: Had the same problems with the sewer clean out and the main water line coming into the house. Paid a very high price for the plumber to find those under emergency conditions.
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You can rent a locater. Just hook it up to the wire that goes to the valve. Then wave the receiver over the ground to locate the wire.
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That sounds like a workable solution. I saw one of those used for locating the water line coming into the house and the sewer line too. The units they used had a line they inserted into the pipes and then followed it. I didn't know there was one that might follow an existing electrical line. I will check out the local rental center to see if they have one.
Thanks,
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Follow the wire. There must be a wire that runs from the timer/controller to each control valve.
If you cannot just pull the wire to see where it leads then you can get a device that injects a tone into the wire and another box which is used to trace it. Sort of like a stud finder for wires. I have used one called the "Fox and Hound" but I don't know its range through dirt, it works great in walls though.
http://www.triplett.com/pif/pif_3392.pdf
If following the wire is not your thing then you will have to deduce the location based on the sprinkler heads it operates and the layout of your land. If you can guess the first head closest to the valve, you can dig and follow the pipe.
I know what you mean about the cleanout. When I bought my house the street cleanout was buried and nobody knew it was even there until I payed to dig up the whole yard to put in a new pipe. At least now I have nearly indestructable and jointless ABS pipe from the house to the street. Last clog (roots) was cleaned by the city for free (well, after I payed $60 to clean out my section and confirm the problem wasn't on my property)
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Yep, there is. I found it buried and dug it up for about 70 feet before it went under the porch at the front of the house. The first valve that I have located is at the opposite side of the house in back. Could not locate it after that. From what I have been able to find thus far, the darn wire more than circles the house.

I will give that a try, thanks.

I would gladly follow the wire...if I could. The best that I can determine, somebody was drunk as a skunk when they laid out this system. The systems overlap and the control valves are as far from their systems as possible. It is the craziest thing I have seen.

I can feel for you on that. Try four separate breaks in the sewer line with three of them UNDER the foundation. One of the breaks just happened to be under the middle of the master bathroom. The master bathroom that I had just spent over $20k remodeling and installing a brand new tile floor.
No Good Deed ever goes unpunished!
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"I would gladly follow the wire...if I could. The best that I can determine, somebody was drunk as a skunk when they laid out this system. The systems overlap and the control valves are as far from their systems as possible. It is the craziest thing I have seen."
Sounds like under a New York City Street.
Personally I prefer a system where all the control valves are in one or two locations near the main water source then run underground heads as needed with no valves. i.e Point of Source switching. Point of Use switching whre the valve is near the zone to be served has the problem that it is hard to clear the line ahead of the valves for winter or if there is a leak.
For leaks, just cap off all the heads and turn on the water, the leak should surface under pressure if you are lucky.
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Why would it be any harder to clear the pipe? With an air compressor, you just cycle through all the zones, twice to be sure, and the job is done, regardless of where the valves are located.

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I designed and installed the system at my prior residence. Did just what you suggested and had all of the control valves in one spot directly where the water connection was. Only had to run about 15 of wire from the timer. All systems ran out from that central point which was in the middle of the overall system. Never had a problem with any of the system in almost 20 years of use which is more than I can say for most of the professional installed systems. But what the heck do I know, I was just another dumb homeowner.
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Call local sprinkler companies to see if any installed it and have a blueprint, mine did, the locator idea is good and metal detectors can work if the layout was easy, but often they are not.
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Thanks but I live in DFW area and that could take forever with all the sprinkler companies around here. Besides, from the looks of this system, it was probably put in 20 years ago and not sure any company would accept responsibility for the mess. Some of the sprinkler heads haven't been produced in at least that long.
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I acquired an old RF signal generator which will generate a signal in the AM radio band with an audio tone on it. I used that to put a signal on a underground wire, and an AM radio to follow the wire.
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Follow the water pipes that exit the house
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clipped

That is how hubby and I located 3 buried valves around our condo, except that the irrigation lines are reclaimed water and never enter the house. We used a metal detector, which my husband is very experienced with, to no avail. Tried listening for sound of water in pipe. Tried digging based on logic of the layout for valves that were not buried. Finally, found a pipe running beyond a valve near the main supply - we followed that pipe, digging about every 3 feet to follow it. Fortunately, it's Florida and they aren't buried deep.
We also had a missing sewer cleanout, until the main sewer line plugged and started backing up. One of the plumbers was an old timer and remembered exactly where the main cleanout was. God bless plumbers :o)
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