I just got a new house, and am having trouble getting the sprinkler system
turned on. The controls turn on fine (it's electronic), but can't get the
things to turn on and spray. The house was sitting without power/water for
over 8 months, so not sure if that has something to do with it or not. The
controls are all programmed as they were originally, and are fairly simple
and straight forward. I start up the manual cycle, but nothing happens in
the yard. The wires running from the controls to the cylinders in the ground
all seem to be fine. Is there something I am overlooking? What could be
wrong with them? Is there another valve/switch or something that could be
shut off preventing them from coming on? Again, I DO have power/water
turned on now. I just don't know how to get the sprinklers to come on. Any
Check to see if there is a box with a manual water shutoff to the system.
It will likely be wherever the sprinkler ties into the main water line.
If the system was left idle over a winter period, then this would generally
be turned off to prevent problems with frozen pipes.
If the system was winterized and the water turned off, you might have to
make other adjustments as well depending on the setup. (On mine, the
backflow preventer has 2 screws which are turned to bleed water out of that
"valve". It is turned one way to bleed the system and then turned back when
the system is activated.)
Also, there could be air in the lines, and it may take several minutes
before you would see water coming into a zone. Be sure that you have given
it enough time.
The suggestion to look for a valve near the point where the irrigation
system ties into the main water near the front street is a good one.
The next thing that I would want to verify is to see if you are getting 24
volts to the zone valves. Check that with a voltmeter, at the point where
2 wires are connected to a zone valve.
Next, if you know how to **manually** turn on a zone valve, I would turn
one of them on to see if you have water available in the system.
Also, starting with the first zone, I would run it for 15-20 minutes, and
then walk around in that zone to see if you see water spurting out of the
ground anywhere (look closely througout the zone) , which would indicate a
leak, and would reduce the pressure so much that the sprinklers would not
rise out of the ground.
Try these things and report back.
ok- here's what I got... the water comes on when I manually turn the
solenoid on (as well as the little pressure control knob on that solenoid),
and shuts off when I close it. But, it will not come on going through the
timer. I found that there's some wires disconnected on the back yard's
solenoids, so there's one problem. But- the side and front yards the wires
appear to be working fine. I did find that the fuse was completely blown in
the timer, so I replaced that. But again, I can't get these things to turn
on via the timer. Home Depot guys suggest getting a Voltmeter to test and
see if I'm getting 24 volts at the solenoids or not. If not, I need to
replace the timer. I seriously doubt that all 8 solenoids need replaced, so
I suspect it's the timer.
Also- the solenoid on the side yard doesnt produce any water at all. I turn
it on manually, and can't get water to come through it at all- any
Am I missing anything?
If your system blew a fuse, there might have been a power surge that damaged
the solenoids. I know it probably unlikely that every single one got
damaged, but it is a possibility. The first thing I would do is to get a 24
volt transformer and take it to the valves and try to get them to operate
from the local power source. If they operate, it pretty much means that you
have a wiring fault. It might be that the common or ground line is broken.
Someone may have accidentally cut the wiring. In that case you should do
what the HD person said, and test the lines for continuity.
There is one other possibility. Some systems have rain gages that interrupt
the common/ground wire. They sometimes are wired directly to the control
box or they are wired in-line between the controller and the heads. If this
is the case, make sure the cup that collects the rain is not full of water.
That will prevent the system from working. I have had the exact same
problem and after a lot of testing and diagnosis, I have checked my rain
gage only to find that it is full of water and preventing the system from
Just remember that once you get it working, you need to winterize
ground freezes. The basic method is to turn off the supply and blow
all the water out, a zone at a time. You can do it yourself with a
decent shop compressor, or you can pay for a service to do it for you.
You can do it yourself if you're at all inclined. Rainbird has a free
design service. Just rent a trencher, make your own trenches and install
the pipe and heads. If you're short on plumbing skills, hire a sprinkler
service to connect to your water service.
For 2 acres you can use pop-up impact heads which cover a 40 ft radius
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