Only zone 4 works

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MPGI

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Greetings,
I am having trouble with my eight-year old Rainbird system. I have no idea when the problem began because the system runs in the early morning hours. The last time I checked it was before the holiday season (Thanksgiving time) and it properly functioned at that time.
Facts:
1. Four (4) zone Rainbird system.
2. Zones 1, 2 and 3 are the problem. When selecting any one of those three zones, only a small amount of water trickles through a few of the heads. I checked for broken heads ('gushers') and did not find any.
3. The pump strains (not a cavitation sound) when zones 1-3 are selected.
4. Zone 4 works normal with full pressure. All sprinkler heads in zone 4 pump as expected.
5. Normal sounding pump on zone 4.
Looking at a previous post, I am suspicious of the valves. One previous post had a Rainbird video but the video referenced a reverse flow valve system. I have no idea what that is.
Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
 

breplum

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Manually open the irr. valve and see how it runs when pump is running.
Remove the antisiphon cap and see how flow is during call for irr. without cap.
 

MPGI

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Thanks for the reply breplum. I connected a garden hose to the hose bib located on the output side of the pump. I let the system come up to pressure, opened the hose bib and slowly cycled (one minute each) through each zone. Here is what I found:
Zone 1-3 no change to sprinkler head(s) output. The pump made its loud straining sound. The connected garden hose flowed at about 1/2 volume.
Zone 4: Sprinkler heads flowed normally. Lots of output. Interestingly, the garden hose increased pressure and flowed at max volume while the sprinkler heads sprayed as normal. The pump ran smooth and quiet in Zone 4.
Any ideas?
 

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WorthFlorida

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What model Rainbird controller? Most have the first 3 or 4 zones built in, other use pluggable modules. Newer Rainbirds will error out if a solenoid has a short and not work. If it's an open (electrically) it will not Error out.

It's possible the module is bad or lightning hit and blew out three solenoids. Another possibility is the wires were chewed up by a varmint. But first do what breplum suggest, open the valves manually. To do that, you turn the solenoid about a 1/4 turn CCW, but you need the irrigation running with zone 4 active with a well. Sometimes you'll need to use a pair of channel locks to loosen the solenoid. All of this will only prove that the valve works and no debris is clogging it up.
 

MPGI

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What model Rainbird controller? Most have the first 3 or 4 zones built in, other use pluggable modules. Newer Rainbirds will error out if a solenoid has a short and not work. If it's an open (electrically) it will not Error out.

It's possible the module is bad or lightning hit and blew out three solenoids. Another possibility is the wires were chewed up by a varmint. But first do what breplum suggest, open the valves manually. To do that, you turn the solenoid about a 1/4 turn CCW, but you need the irrigation running with zone 4 active with a well. Sometimes you'll need to use a pair of channel locks to loosen the solenoid. All of this will only prove that the valve works and no debris is clogging it up.
Okay, I checked the system and I have a solenoid issue. My question is the Rain Bird solenoid has wires that are exactly the same (black & white) and I am unable to determine polarity because of this since both wires from the new solenoid are identical.
 

WorthFlorida

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Okay, I checked the system and I have a solenoid issue. My question is the Rain Bird solenoid has wires that are exactly the same (black & white) and I am unable to determine polarity because of this since both wires from the new solenoid are identical.
There are no polarity wiring issues with 24v ac solenoids. Generally, the white wire going to valves is the common wire from the controller. Black or any other color is the zone wire.
 

MPGI

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Here is what I found:
Zone 1, non-operational solenoid.
Zone 2, diaphragm needed replacement and cogged solenoid filter.
Zone 3, clogged solenoid filter.
Zone 4, always worked but I replaced the solenoid filter.
The system now works great. I just can't thank you guys enough for your assistance!
I have a real mystery with this system's plumbing and will create another post to see if you can help me solve.
Again, thank you so much!
 
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