Tried everything but no irrigation... suddenly

Discussion in 'Irrigation / Sprinkler Forum' started by jsweeney17, May 20, 2018.

  1. jsweeney17

    jsweeney17 New Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2018
    Location:
    Charlotte NC
    We have had irrigation working fully for the last 3 years but this season when I turned it on NOTHING.... The Toro Controller says its working but nothing is happening. All zones off, in auto or manual modes.
    I have followed all the standard online tutorials, tested the controller for voltages and resistance to lines. Disconnected each solenoid and tested resistance all ok.
    interestingly theres a separate control box on a single pipe which in series has a flow on/off, two odd looking cylinders and a flow on/off. the first flow is on and the last is off. if I manually turn the last flow control on then ALL sprinklers go on but are not controlled by the Toro controller. All but 2 zones.
    So I figure I don't have a water issue but what could the mysterious little cylinders be? they are at a 45 degree angle in line in the pipe. The pipes are buried so I am not sure how they connect. We have a Well btw and a pressure tank.
     
  2. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    Go any pictures? Do you have a rain sensor of any kind? Your cylinder thing sound like a backflow preventer. There are hundred of different shapes. The flow on/off your reading is for testing. The picture below does not have them but there used to test that the back flow is working. The second one does.
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Rain sensor.
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. jsweeney17

    jsweeney17 New Member

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    yes the picture you had on the left is exactly what I found down the third control box. I used a multimeter to test all the solenoids and all seemed ok.
    i have not seen a rain sensor anywhere around the house at all. Its still not working, sadly. Any other possible causes?
     
  5. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
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    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    What model Rain Bird is it? What you need to do is activate the controller and check voltages especially if there is a wire on the MV terminal.

    The backflow preventer is probably to your domestic water system if you're on city water. If the well is also for domestic water then this is to prevent any containmants from the irrigation system from back flowing into the home.

    Now your descriptions are getting confusing. What I can assume here is your have one pump & pressure tank for your domestic water and it is tapped for your irrigation system. Is this right? Pictures would help of this other separate controller. I think it is for your well pump.

    On the rainbird controller some have a slide switch that reads "bypass" to switch out any rain sensors. Some will have a strap on the terminal; labeled SEN or Sensor, etc. without a rain sensor.

    The rainbird controller are there any wires to the MV terminal? Below is from a Rain Bird ESP modular controller, a very common unit for residential use. Most controllers are the very similar.
    Read #1.
    http://www.rainbird.com/professionals/products/controllers
    http://www.rainbird.com/products/esp-modular/support


    Master Valve / Pump Start Relay
    Wiring

    NOTE: Complete this section only if your
    system requires a master valve (an
    automatic valve installed on the mainline
    pipe upstream from the station valves) or
    a pump start relay. The controller does
    not provide main power for a pump.

    1. Connect the master valve or pump
    start relay wiring to the controller as
    shown in the illustration.

    upload_2018-5-25_19-41-20.png
     
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  6. RichMoney

    RichMoney New Member

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    May 25, 2018
    Location:
    Washinton
    I would also check to make sure there isnt a rain sensor on the system. Some of the older controllers did not have a terminal for the sensor so we just put it inline with common wire, in which case the controller would never know if the sensor was on or off.

    To make sure your common is in tact you can wire the common wire to an extra terminal in the controller and turn it on. Then take your volt meter and check the voltage in the field at on of the stations if it reads somewhere around 24v your good, if not there is an issue.

    rich@sprinklerresource.com
     
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  7. jsweeney17

    jsweeney17 New Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2018
    Location:
    Charlotte NC
    IMG-0862 (3).JPG
    I think the backflow preventers may have been a red herring but did help me figure out it wasn't a water issue. above is the control box and wiring. We do have a rain sensor (I hadn't spotted it as its a Toro and looks different to the ones pictured). The sensor is likely old and I thought replacing it might be the answer but first tried to disengage the existing one. the controller has those two little dip switches on the left so I disengaged there and then I removed the wires (red and white on top left of those three grey connectors). Sadly nothing when I then tried the manual start. Does this mean its not the rain sensor thats the issue? I am running out of things to test.
    BTW the house and the irrigation are all run off the same well and pressure tank.
     
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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  9. jsweeney17

    jsweeney17 New Member

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    Last edited: May 26, 2018
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    I think you have eliminated the rain sensor as causing the problem, presuming you did the manual activation.

    You have checked that you had about 24 volts heading to a solenoid, and water was not coming out? That seems improbable, but if that was the case, you would then troubleshoot to see if the voltage arrived at the solenoid.

    I have not worked with such a system. I do think that you should measure voltages going to the solenoids. I don't know how you probe those connections, but I think you will want to find out how to do that.
     
  11. jsweeney17

    jsweeney17 New Member

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  12. jsweeney17

    jsweeney17 New Member

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    measured the voltages and the resistance on the lines from the controller to the solenoids. all were fine. yesterday I checked the resistance on each of the solenoids and all were fine. Now Ive replaced the rain sensor. I checked htie incoming voltage from the transformer. Out of ideas.
     
  13. MKS

    MKS Member

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    Location:
    Illinois
    Might check all common wires and connections for something loose or corroded.
     
  14. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    If you measure 24 volts across a solenoid, and there is water pressure present, and water does not come out, solenoid valve is bad. When you measure a voltage, you are measuring the voltage between two places. There are two test leads to let you do that. "Fine" across the solenoid is 24 volts approx when the controller is calling for water.

    It is unlikely you have multiple bad solenoid valves.

    How do you know you have water to the valves? As I understand it, at least with some sprinkler valves, you can turn them on mechanically at the sprinkler head.

    You need to either find something not fine (other than observing no water), or you should get a sprinkler person to get you troubleshot and fixed.
     
  15. jsweeney17

    jsweeney17 New Member

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    I turned the flow on manually through the backflow preventer and all but 1 zone went on but none were responding to the controller ie all on or all off by that manual tap in the pipe.
    The solenoids I only checked resistance at the solenoid. I checked the voltages to stations at the control panel. I cant imagine all the solenoids are bad. I had seen a youtube video where one bad solenoid closed down everything but that also had a controller with a reset switch/button which the Toro does not seem to have.
     
  16. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    So you are saying that you measure 24 volts on the wire pair to a valve, and no water comes out. You have checked there is water. The next step, I would think, would be to check that there is 24 volts at that valve solenoid while 24 volts is being delivered to the wire pair. Is that practical?
     
  17. jsweeney17

    jsweeney17 New Member

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    I dont know which station controls which solenoid so that would be a very lengthy process and hit or miss.
    Today I tried replacing the controller with a Rainbird one from Lowes. I hooked all the wires up and tried it but once again nothing...
     
  18. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    You really need to connect the voltmeter to one of the solenoids and activate that zone at the controller. You must have 24 v AC at the solenoid.

    At the valve you'll see a knob that you can turn to manually to activate it. Sometimes you can unscrew the solenoid about a 1/2 turn and water will flow. Because your on a well system that's also used for domestic water it's possible that there is a master valve to shut the water off/on plus zone valves. They are the same as any other valve. If there is a master valve it would be connected to the as shown above to the MV terminal. But you get water flowing when messing around with the backflow preventer. It's not making much sense. :eek: What is this other control box, is it for the well pump? Could it be that this controller is activating a master valve and the toro unit controls the zones?

     
  19. jsweeney17

    jsweeney17 New Member

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    Charlotte NC
    There's no master valve connected in the Toro control box. just an empty port. Could it be wired differently? ie using one of the regular valves as a master? wouldnt that mess with the timing sequences when watering - the master has to be programmed to stay open while all the others are on I would think. I borrowed a control panel (rainbird) and wired it up - made no difference so I've eliminated that too. Today I'll try the solenoids again.
     
  20. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
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    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    With using your domestic pressure tank and well, a master valve would be beneficial. When the controller is off the master valve would be closed preventing pressure being applied to all zone valves in the irrigation system. If the irrigation pipes are PVC the pipe gets brittle over time.

    Since someone installed a backflow preventer tells me that someone knew what they were doing. This is why a MV might have been used.

    Anytime the timer activates a zone to run a program the master valve connection has 24v on it. It is also used to activate a contactor for an irrigation well pump.
     
  21. jsweeney17

    jsweeney17 New Member

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    Charlotte NC
    yes I figured that but there is no master valve connected to the controller at all. I have now located and tested all the solenoid valves. Tested for resistance to, and on, each solenoid, tested for 24v AC delivered to each solenoid when operated by the controller. Each solenoid 'clicks' on and off when operated and some hum a bit too. The rain sensor has been replaced and also disabled. with the backflow preventer valve below, what should be the configuration of those two on/off controls(green) at either end of the flow? If i Look at ours the left side one (as you look at the picture below) is on and the right hand side is off. Is that correct?
    By turning the right hand control to on I get water through the system but no control (all sprinklers on). Should they be open or closed these valves at either side of the backflow preventer?
    I think I am narrowing it down to the backflow preventer now.... :)
    [​IMG]
     

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