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dabretty

New Member

1

Saturday, April 4th 2009, 10:06am

Old (Ancient?) system ... where to start?

Hi guys. I recently bought a 20-year-old house here in Albuquerque, and I am now getting around to trying to troubleshoot the sprinkler system. It's a five zone system, with a relatively new controller (Hunter Pro-C). The first two channels are fine, which control the front yard. However, the backyard (three zones) does nothing. Clearly this isn't a new development, as the backyard is also completely dead (I'm trying to change this) and clearly has been for a long, long time ... across at least two owners the best I can tell.



In the backyard I could see a valve cover for the three non-working zones, but couldn't physically get to the valves as this was some 3.5 feet or so below the surface. (This is extreme overkill for depth here in Albuquerque, by the way) As it is not in the easiest location to dig I succeeded in removing about 20" or so of depth so that I can now touch the valves. Here is a picture:




With the controller supposedly turning these zones on, I have fiddled with the valves to little/no avail. I am hearing a relatively loud vibration noise coming from the first two zones, but turning the "big" (outside) valve doesn't seem to do anything. If I turn the inside (small) valves counter clockwise I actually can get a very, very slow drip of water out of the center of them (basically from underneath the small valve I'm turning). The third zone doesn't seem to be doing anything (no noise), and its inside valve appears to be stuck due to debris.



Here is another picture:







I have other issues with the backyard irrigation at this point (my own dog contributing some of that) but I want to at least get water flowing in this first step. I consider myself a pretty handy guy, and the electric stuff is no concern to me (I'm an electrical engineer). Am I in over my head at this point, should I just call in an outside guy to accomplish the initial start up?



Thanks for all of your help!



Brett

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "dabretty" (Apr 4th 2009, 10:14am)


hi.todd

Supreme Member

Posts: 417

Location: Houston, Texas

2

Saturday, April 4th 2009, 10:51am

You can probably handle it EE.

Try to move the outside or larger ring that should be the flow control. You should turn in counter clockwise to open it. turning it to the right with force the valve closed. It sounds like they were forced close. Once you open the flow control, then turn the smaller finger ring in the middle counter clock wise to open the valve manually. If you can't shut the valve off after this you can reverse the process and fix your situation.
Try this first and then if you have flow through the valves, then try to turn on with the controller.

Good Luck

:thumbsup:
:thumbup: :thumbsup:

dabretty

New Member

3

Saturday, April 4th 2009, 2:10pm

Thanks for the insight as to what the valves do. I did as you described and can't get any water out of it. Still just a trickle coming out of the inside valve, but seemingly only when the controller has them on (this could be an incorrect assumption by me, however). I'm guessing this trickle is just a bit of back flow from the zones - again, these valves are significantly below the elevation of the sprinklers.



So I guess I've got to go digging for a master valve for this box. I'm guessing it might be down that PVC pipe you can see in the first picture, as I haven't figured out anything else that could be in there yet. It is filled with years of debris (maybe even some dirt) so this may take me some time. But the other odd thing about all of this is that the first two zones (not serviced by this box) work fine. I actually have not discovered their control valve box yet, I think it might be hiding behind some bushes and under some rocks (their two regulators are in these bushes).

Wet_Boots

Supreme Member

Posts: 4,077

Location: Metro NYC

4

Saturday, April 4th 2009, 4:02pm

Note to the OP - learn to edit your photos so that everyone can view them. Coming 'straight from the camera' they are horribly oversized jpg files that aren't any clearer than files a twentieth the size.

mrfixit

Moderator

Posts: 1,460

Location: USA

5

Saturday, April 4th 2009, 5:02pm

Shut off valve

Hi, you said you were going to look for a master valve. Before you do that I'd look and see if there's a wire hooked up to the master valve terminal. If not it sounds like to me that there's a shut off valve somewhere. Could be anywhere. It's possible there is a master valve and the wire isn't hooked up as well.

dabretty

New Member

6

Sunday, April 5th 2009, 10:41am

mrfixit - not sure that there is a (remotely-controlled via control box) master valve. That zones 1-2 work - which are not controlled by this particular valve box - would tell me it's not an issue, plus the wiring in the box looks pretty standard (I see 1-5 channels and a common coming out).



I dug sideways to the bottom of that PVC pipe to find ... a buried manual valve in the off position! Basically it was your standard plumbing size valve and handle, so I guess this PVC pipe was nothing more than a marker for it (it was not in any position to be turned on or off through this pipe).



However, this still doesn't seem to change anything. Turning this on, I did not feel any vibration or anything in any of the valves, or see any other signs of water. I plan to go digging around today for the zone 1-2 control valve box, to see if there's anything weird going on (another valve upstream of the one I just found and turned on?). At the same time, I have to wonder if there's something bigger wrong (like the feed for this valve was detached for some reason). Basically, it would seem to me that somebody burying that valve in the off position either had a good reason or they were just crazy (which is a real possibility given some of the things I've discovered with this house).



But it's a start. I'm determined to figure this one out by myself. I called a local sprinkler company and they want $80/hr for a service call. Unless they know some critical piece of knowledge that I don't, my guess is they would show up and spend two hours ($160) just digging around, exploring as I am. I'll gladly do the digging to keep this money in my pocket!



Sorry for the big pictures. I thought I scaled them to 1024x768 on imageshack, I didn't realize the width of this forum's text was forced to basically 640 or so ...

Wet_Boots

Supreme Member

Posts: 4,077

Location: Metro NYC

7

Sunday, April 5th 2009, 1:19pm

Sorry for the big pictures. I thought I scaled them to 1024x768 on imageshack, I didn't realize the width of this forum's text was forced to basically 640 or so ...
The photos you posted are probably the original camera images, at 3264 x 2448 pixels and over 3 MB file sizes. No one with dialup internet is likely to ever read this page. You can go beyond what Imageshack can do, and really trim the file sizes. Note the following thumbnails, with the second two having been edited for jpg compression in my own computer. You can still see the brand name on the tool handle. If you include images with emails, you really want to be able to pare down image file sizes, especially if any dialup users are on your mailing list.


mrfixit

Moderator

Posts: 1,460

Location: USA

8

Sunday, April 5th 2009, 1:51pm

Valve

Sounds like you don't need to hire someone. You're covering all the bases. I'd like to add to what you've thought of. Old shut off valves are always a tad scary for me. I've had them break on a few occasions. More so gate valves than ball valves but they both can. With gate valves it can appear that you've turned the valve on but in reality the valve is broken inside not allowing any water past. Unscrewing the top half of the valve is how to check for it. Also with gate valves you have to turn the valve over and over and over to have it open. Sometimes people think the valve is on when it isn't. Ball valves can also break inside in the closed position. Handle turning but ball isn't. Impossible to check without looking in the end of the valve which means some work especially with your galvanized pipes. You might be able to feel that it's not working while turning the handle.

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