Sprinkler System Zone Issues?

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sprinklerguy68

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Hello all, new member here. I have a problem with my sprinkler system that I just can't figure out. I control the system using a rain bird ism timer with 8 zones hooked up to it. The system was originally installed in '68 so most of the zones have their original valves which still work. The rest of the zones use rain bird 100-dv valves. the zones with the 100-dv valves work fine, as well as one of the zones with the original valve. The other zones, however, don't work right. They turn on for a minute or two, then shut off, then turn back on for two seconds before shutting off again.

I verified that all the valves do in fact work, I checked all the connections (they're all good), and even replaced the master valve's solenoid which I thought was starting to go bad (master valve is also a 100-dv). The problem still persists, and I want to try to avoid replacing ALL of the old valves since they're a pain to remove (saddle clamps, copper nipples, dubious installations by college kids from the 60s). Any thoughts on what I should do?
 

WorthFlorida

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First time I've seen this post. I'm suspecting one of three things,

1) the 24v transformer is not putting out enough voltage,
2) there is a wiring problem to the new zone valves. Could be an intermittent common wire. There could be a two white wires, one for the old section and one for the new. You may have to go to each valve and check the wiring connection.
3) The controller zones are bad. This model doesn't appear to have separate module for a group of zones. Just swap around the zone wiries at the controller. If the problem stays with the new zones then either the 24v or wiring. If not it is the controller.
 

sprinklerguy68

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Thanks for the suggestions! I'll measure the output of the transformer first to see if that's the culprit. If not, I'll swap the zone wires like you said. I have actually had this issue since I have installed that timer (a year ago at least) and yet I have never thought to swap the wires! I'll let you know if that narrows the issue or fixes it.
 

WorthFlorida

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Your controller does not have separate modules and RainBird are good units so I'm first thinking is the controller is good. First, manually activate each zone from the controller (page 30 of the manual), if the problem persist then swap zones. If it still is a problem erase or clear the entire program and enter a basic watering program and try it again.

The old valves will not have to be changed, you can just change the solenoid.

The transformer is a plug in style and it may not be able to handle the load on certain zones. When the problem occurs does the controller immediately jump to the next zone or does the runtime run before going to the next zone. The transformer under no load could be as high as 28v. Under load as low as 18v. You can place a voltmeter on a zone with trouble and watch the voltage. Another way is to use an ohm meter.
 

sprinklerguy68

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I swapped the zones yesterday and ran them today, determined that the controller is not the problem, as you have pointed out. Later today I'm going to check the voltage as it's running; thanks for the info on the transformer!

Addendum: I do have another controller just in case it is the transformer that is causing the issue. The spare controller is a Rain Bird esp modular. By the way, the old valves are cast brass and the solenoid cover is made from steel, so they kind of rusted on to the valve. The valves were made by Hay's Flow Controls (now Hay's Fluid Controls) as was the controller I replaced with the Rain Bird ism timer.
 
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sprinklerguy68

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Update: I decided to temporarily hook up the esp controller to the system, and found out that it had similar problems (manually started a zone, said zone shut off after a couple seconds with severe water hammer.). So now I'm thinking that it could be the connections at the valves going bad (corrosion possibly?). I'll test it after I clean the connections to the affected zones (maybe I should also make sure that there are no breaks in the line to the valves as well). This should hopefully rectify the problem.
 

WorthFlorida

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Update: I decided to temporarily hook up the esp controller to the system, and found out that it had similar problems (manually started a zone, said zone shut off after a couple seconds with severe water hammer.). So now I'm thinking that it could be the connections at the valves going bad (corrosion possibly?). I'll test it after I clean the connections to the affected zones (maybe I should also make sure that there are no breaks in the line to the valves as well). This should hopefully rectify the problem.

Could have bad solenoids. Might remove one and check for debris such as sand or dirt.
 

sprinklerguy68

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You could be right. I do have a unused old valve that I took out a few years ago. I think that the solenoids on the old valves can be removed, given that the ones in the ground appear to be installed in different positions. I'm thinking maybe using channel locks to get them loose.
 

WorthFlorida

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The valves that are shutting down on you, turn the solinois counter clockwise about a 1/4 to 1/2 turn, this should activate the valve. If water remains at full flow, then it is a bad valve or solenoid.

 
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