Automatic sprinkler system no longer works after brownouts

erichoffApril 22, 2013


After a series of brownouts last year, my automatic sprinkler system stopped working. The sprinkler controller's display had shut off. The system itself still worked if I manually opened the solenoids by turning them counter-clockwise.

I thought the controller had been fried, so I bought a new Rain Bird controller (similar in model to what was previously installed) to test with. Before disconnecting the wires from the previous controller, I took a picture so I could hook up the wires in the same order/color to the new controller.

With the wires snugly attached to the new controller in the same order as they had been connected to the previous controller, I programmed the controller to start watering Zone 1. Nothing. I tried manually watering all 4 of my zones using the Water Zone Now feature on the controller. Again, nothing.

I returned the new controller and hooked up the wires to the old controller, which I had discovered just needed to be reset. I can still program that controller just fine. Aside from when I swapped out the controllers, I haven't adjusted the wiring since I bought the house a few years ago. I certainly haven't touched the wiring in the valve control box out in the yard.

Is the likely culprit a set of four fried solenoids?

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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I assume the valves did not turn on when you reset the old controller and tried the manual override from the controller. If that is the case, redo all the solenoid connections in the valve box. While you are doing that replace all the connection screw caps with waterproof ones. If you have a friend with a volt/amp meter, check the voltage and amp output at those connections when you cycle through the controller manually. If this doesn't work, change out all the solenoids. It is not that expensive or difficult. Make sure the common line (white) has continuity to the controller. GL and Aloha

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 6:10PM
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Thank you for your response.

Correct, the valves don't turn on when I try the manual override from the old (now currently installed) controller. I will fix up the solenoid connections and report back on that.

As far as checking the voltage/amperage, should I be looking for a specific reading, or simply the presence or lack of a reading? I've never used a volt/amp meter, so I'm looking forward to learning something new. :)

If I need to change the solenoids, are there generic solenoids for residential sprinkler systems or will I need to replace the faulty solenoids with the same model?

When you say "common line", would that also be considered the master valve control line? On my controller, there are connections for the wires for each zone, and then there is a connection labeled "Master", which I believe is a white cable.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:15PM
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The voltage will be 24 v, don't remember the amps but it will be small should be in some literature or on transformer. Solenoids for automatic irrigation valve are generic and come with two black wires. Either one to the colored wire and the other to the white or common wire. Usually in the controller there is a terminal labeled comm. The one for the master usually is for a pump relay. If you know the brand, look it up on Google and get the operators manual and see how the hook up of the comm wire is called out. Aloha

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 11:38PM
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