Troubleshooting tips from Sean
Troubleshooting is both an art as well as a science. The trick to finding a solution is you must isolate the problem and work backwards to find the solution. I have found this to be true of most problems regardless of industry or equipment.
Hi, my name is Sean and I am a repair-a-holic. It's not that I can't stop - it's that I don't want to. I'm an addict. It stems from my childhood obsession of having to take everything apart to see what's inside. Drove my parents nuts. I had quite the collection of internal workings of digital watches at one point. They were my kryptonite.
As I grew, my curiosity grew into larger and larger things. Pretty soon I was pulling apart engines and refurbishing automobiles. Spending my off hours and weekends in a shop grinding and wrenching taught me a lot about how things work together and the value of knowledge. This is also where I learned the value of good tools and how many swear words would slip out upon busting a knuckle.
Once I got married and had kids, the list of things to be repaired became exponential. They don’t call it a "honey do" list for nothing. The destructive power of children is a force to be reckoned with. Things I had no idea could be broken (or that we even owned) ended up on the list. With each new repair came the knowledge of how it worked. It's that new knowledge that becomes so addictive.
Now that the kids are grown and I have a slightly smaller "honey do" list, I hope I have imparted some of that curiosity and willingness to learn to my children. The knowledge that you can do anything you set your mind to and be successful. Even if it requires a lot of work and a little bit of swearing.
How to fix broken sprinkler valve wires?
There are two ways to solve broken wire problems - the hard way and the easy way.
The hard way - You can either:
- Trench in a new wire from the controller out to the valve. You will need to do a lot of digging so I hope you have a strong back. If the manual operation of a shovel does not sound like the way you would like to spend your day - trenchers are available at your local rental companies. Contact your local utility providers to make sure there are no underground lines.
- You will need to fix the wire. The trickiest part of this will be to find where it is broken. You will likely need to use a wire tracer to do this. Sometimes these can be rented if you don't own one. Check with your local rental companies for availability.
If you know of any new changes to the landscape, this may be the first place to check. The addition of new trees, shrubs, fence posts, signs, etc. can be the culprit in situations where valves have recently stop working.
Trace the wire to where the break is and start digging. Dig slowly as you do not want to cut any other wires. Once you find the break you can fix it. You may also splice in some new wire to remove any other defects that would cause the circuit to fail again. Waterproof all wire connections.
Test your system. Confirm your valves operate as expected and no wires were crossed in the process. Once everything checks out you can fill in any holes or trenches made in the process. Properly replant any trees or shrubs that were removed. Test your system once again to ensure no new issues have surfaced.
THE EASY WAY - the easiest way to remedy a broken valve wire is to install a DOUBLER. The DOUBLER allows you to bypass broken wires without digging and disturbing your landscaping. It's the fastest, easiest and most reliable way to fix the problem of broken valve wires.
What tools or equipment do I need to troubleshoot and fix my irrigation system?
It's good to have the proper tools on hand when you are ready to troubleshoot and repair your sprinkler system. These will vary depending on your system and expertise. In this guy's opinion, it's always a good excuse to add tools to your collection. A piece of advice in this area is to always purchase the best tools you can afford. If properly taken care of, they will serve you for a lifetime and usually cut down on the amount of swearing done in the process.
A basic tool set for this type of job should consist of:
Multimeter - Your multimeter should be able to read Amps as well as AC and DC voltages. The continuity feature is handy to have on a meter as well. It's useful for checking fuses and wire.
Screwdriver set - A great item to have around. Use for getting into the controller, tightening station set screws, adjusting sprinkler heads, etc.
Razor knife - A nice sharp pocket knife can also be used in most instances. Use for opening packages, cleaning up the edges of pipe after cutting with a hacksaw, hunting small game and other generally manly things.
Hacksaw - Hacksaws come in a few configurations. The standard is always a good one to keep handy, as well as the keyhole type. The keyhole type allows you to make cuts in much tighter areas. This will be useful when cutting and repairing underground pipes.
Channel locks and pliers - Good all-around tools to have. Channel locks will allow you to get a grip on larger diameter pipes and can be used quite a bit in plumbing repairs. You will use both of these in many instances around the home and in the field. Other good variations to have are needle nose, bull nose and even snips will come in pretty handy from time to time.
Gloves - Never underestimate a good pair of gloves. Especially when it comes to doing manual labor such as digging or working around the sharp spines of a sago palm, bougainvillea or other viciously pointy vegetation.
Other general tools you may need:
- PVC Cutter - This will make clean cuts for easier repairs to PVC pipe. Hacksaws work but these make a cleaner cut much easier.
- Shovel - for digging up any elusive breaks and getting down to the area to be repaired.
- Spade - for more delicate work and cleaning out the hole to work the repair.
- Pruning shears - for trimming any branches or shrubs that may be restricting access to the repair location.
- Tarp - to put all that dirt and debris on. Keeping it off the grass aids greatly in cleanup.
How to run two valves on one wire?
While it is usually not ideal, you can wire two valves together to water at the same time. This can lead to over or under watering of certain areas because everything is watering together for the same length of time. Or even worse, will cause low water pressure situation that can lead to nothing being watered at all.
When you need to operate two valves on one wire - DOUBLER can easily do this and eliminate all these problems. DOUBLER will allow the independent operation of two valves so you can water each zone for the correct amount of time. No wasting water and making a mess out of your landscape.
How to add a second controller to your irrigation system?
You may need to add additional controllers as your landscape expands and exceeds the capacity of a single controller. These controllers may be located next to each other or on entirely separate buildings but access the same pump or master valve. Multiple controller systems can have many problems that single controller systems do not (i.e. low water pressure and electrical feedback issues).
There are two main factors to consider when you are programming multiple controllers:
- Does the system have enough water pressure to operate multiple valves simultaneously?
- Are there requirements to water all zones within a certain period of time?
You can easily find each controllers start times by:
- Adding up runtime of each station to get the total watering time.
- Set the start time of additional controllers so that they do not overlap and water simultaneously.
HINT: You may even want to leave a little more time between the end of one cycle and the start time of the next to allow for seasonal adjustments without having to go back and reprogram your controllers every time. Start times can overlap if not careful.
When controllers share a common field wire or use the same pump or master valve, you may need to take additional precautions to protect your controllers. The best way to protect your controllers is by installing ISOLATOR. ISOLATOR is easy to install and will prevent multiple controllers from being interconnected by only allowing one controller at a time to use the circuit.