Here is the second part of our trouble-shooting tips.
Sprinkler Zones Do Not Turn On
If no zones will turn on, see if they’ll run using the manual setting on the controller. If the zones run on manual, you know the controller is good. It just might not be programmed properly or be on the correct setting.
The rain sensor could also be stopping the automatic programming if the ground is already saturated.
If the system doesn’t run in manual mode, do the following to check the controller for power:
- Ensure the controller’s fuse hasn’t blown (if it has one).
- Reset any circuit breaker button and try the system again.
- If plugged into a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) receptacle, press the reset button.
- If the system still isn’t working, check the outlet the power transformer is plugged into.
- Plug the transformer back in, turn the system off, and test the voltage of the transformer with a multimeter by placing the leads on the transformer terminals marked “24 vac”. Replace the transformer if the reading is less than 24.
You may have to replace the controller if none of the above resolve the issue.
If just one zone isn’t working, the problem is usually an electrical issue or a defective controller or solenoid. To check the controller:
- Ensure the zone wires are firmly attached to the controller terminals, the transformer is plugged in, and the circuit breaker in the main panel is on.
- Use a multimeter to check the voltage to the nonworking zone by touching the leads to the common terminal and zone terminal. Replace the controller if the voltage is too low, but above zero (consult your owner’s manual for the required range).
- If the voltage reading is zero, check the fuse, and replace it if blown.
- If the controller doesn’t have a fuse, check the voltage of the transformer with the multimeter. The transformer is defective if the voltage is below 24 and needs to be replaced.
If a valve’s not turning on, check to see if it will turn on manually. Many valves have a lever or switch to activate them without electricity. If the valve works when turned on manually, the problem is most likely with the wiring from the controller to the valve, the wiring at the valve, or the solenoid. Check for any loose or damaged wires and reconnect, repair, or replace them.
Test the solenoid using a multimeter to check the resistance ohms between the common terminal and the terminal for the nonworking zone. If the number is lower than the recommendation in the owner’s manual (usually 20 to 60 ohms), the solenoid switch that activates the sprinklers in that zone is defective and has to be replaced. Any reading above 60, or a reading of zero, indicates a wiring problem.
A stuck valve can prevent your sprinklers from turning on or off. Sometimes this is caused by dirt, debris, or rocks in the valve’s diaphragm. To remedy this, unscrew the solenoid, and allow water to pass through the valve, then close the solenoid. If this doesn’t work, take the faulty valve apart, and use a small screwdriver to remove any debris and rocks from the diaphragm.
Water seeping from sprinkler heads after the controller has turned off the zone is caused by:
- A torn or damaged diaphragm inside the valve. Rebuild kits are available that include replacement diaphragms.
- A cracked valve body. Replace the valve.
Broken Pipes and Leaks
One of the causes of low pressure in your irrigation system can be underground leaks. Signs of leaks in the water line include:
- Water bubbling up from the soil when the system is running.
- A depression in the ground.
- A very wet area.
- Sprinkler heads that are barely shooting water and not popping up properly.
- Visible geysers.
- Water meter runs when the sprinkler system is off.
One way of discovering the leak is to look at the area between the last working head and the first nonworking head. Also, if you spot running water, follow it to the highest point to find the source.
If you can’t find the leak, the irrigation line could be obstructed or crushed. Tree roots can grow around a pipe, and over the years constrict it. Sometimes vehicles compress the soil and collapse the water line. These broken pipes are more difficult to find, and you often have to do a lot of digging. Look for the area after the last working head and dig until you find the damaged pipe. If your line runs near a tree, start digging in that area.
There are some quick fixes that are easy to do yourself. For those that you’d rather not tackle, call the pros at South Austin Irrigation at (512) 534-7449 or complete our online service request form.