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View Full Version : Problem. Am i just stupid?


Acute Cut
08-12-2004, 10:50 PM
Ok, the problem isnt that i am stupid. Or so i thought. Ill give you the set up and the problem last.

Zone 4- Corner beds of front middle part
Weather Matic controller- 1 1/2
Problem, zone wont go.
Here is what i have done so far and why i am confused. I tried all the other zones, they are 100% ok. I FINALLY found this control box buried under some ground cover. Open her up and all looks ok. Different than i would have done it, but it is i think about 6 years old. Wires "look" ok. I have not tested for current as i dont see how this will tie into the problem. Read on.
So zone wont fire off timer so i decide to do it manually. I flip it and it sounds BARELY open. No water comes out anywhere. I try other zones and realize very little water indeed is going through that zone. So i pop the top and clean everything. i open valve a little to make sure it wasnt clogged. Nada clog. I reassemble the valve and still nothing.

Here is where i get REALLY irratated. So tinkering as i think i unwind the cylinoid. (the electric wire gadget, sorry i am not technically that great) I get about 9/10ths of the way up and BLAMO the zone starts up just as pretty as can be. Every head goes and all is good. So i crank it back down. BUZ KILL! Everytime i take it almost all the way off it works, but otherwise it dont. I even bought a new electric cylanoid today to see if i was just really dumb and that would fix it. I knew better, but i was stumped. This has been a week long torment.

Please help me here. I know the owner (commercial guy) is wondering. He says today, "Well, you can only do the best you can do right?" I said "no, im saving that for the end of the job" :D

I'm a part timer as far as irregation goes i know. Gotta learn somehow i guess right? Besides, there are a major shortage of guys here that want work. Believe it or not. What am i missing? Everything else is fine except something with or around the cylanoid.
HELP!

DGI
08-12-2004, 10:55 PM
The water will always run when you twist open the solenoid. Does the solenoid make a buzzing sound at all when you have it on by the clock? A vibration of any sort?

Check the voltage on the clock. It should be 24-26.

Is it an LMC?

DanaMac
08-12-2004, 11:28 PM
You are going to spend more time trying to figure out exactly what the problem is. But it probably has to do with the solenoid, diaphragm, or bonnet (top to valve). Try replacing all three parts and see if it works. One of the small ports in the bonnet may be damaged or plugged. If that doesn't do it, you may need to replace the entire valve.

With valve problems, I have found it is faster for me to just replace the solenoid, diaphragm, and top to valve rather than clean it out, see if it works, try again, check solenoid with volt meter, replace one part at a time, etc.... unless of course you get no current to the valve from the timer.

GrazerZ
08-12-2004, 11:48 PM
just change the valve to much time wasted running in circles. Checking voltage is still a good idea.

Acute Cut
08-12-2004, 11:49 PM
I was thinking power issues initially as well, but the fact that the manual dont work either has got to be something! I have not checked the cylanoid while the timer goes. I have done one or the other.

Basically the manual open dont work unless i unwind that cylanoid ALOT. It is almost spraying water everywhere before the water goes through. Ok, so which hole where might be plugged?

DGI:
SOrry, i am rather a newbie to this. I am not sure what an LMC is. If i twist the cylanoid almost completely off it will open manually. Well, it bypasses everything at that point i guess and just goes, right?

Danamac:
I actually didnt have to clean anything. it really did all look good. I cleaned anyways, but am stumped. There was one damaged part but that would not affect anything as i can tell. On the manual valve closure (The valve that closes the actual diaphram) the tip of the plastic sheathing around the screw was broken off. As far as i can tell it is non essential as i want the valve full open , not closed. Unless it messes with air pressures or something and thus tweaks it making it inoperational. Or,........... i am way over analyzing and still rather guessing.:o

Currier
08-13-2004, 12:24 AM
Usually I find that valves that have diaphram problems don't want to shut off...opposite of your problem.

I take it the new soenoid did not fix the problem? maybe there is some little debris causing blockage close to the solenoid opening.

When I get totally stumped I call my supply house and desrcibe the problem to them...maybe they've heard the situation and can help you out.

jerryrwm
08-13-2004, 01:00 AM
Okay,

Weathermatic valves are reverse flow type. That means they will fail in the closed position. You have several problems but it boils down to the diaphragm. Either the diaphragm fabric is leaking or the two diaphragm orifices are enlarged. This comes from use as the diaphragm flexes while opening and closing.

In either case, the amount of water being let out through the exhaust fitting under the solenoid is less than is coming in through the diaphragm orifices which will not allow the diaphragm to unseat and open.

When you open the solenoid, and water begins to run out there, you have in effect dumped more water out than is coming in and the valve opens.

Change out the diaphragm. Very simple operation. Six cover bolts (7/16") Take out old diaphragm and disassemble with a large Phillips screwdriver. Put brass parts back on new diaphragm, set it down in the valve, making sure the notch is aligned with the direction of the solenoid. Put the spring back in, reinstall cover bolts, tightening like you would a vehicle lug pattern. Turn water on and check for leaks.

This takes about 10 mins to change, and the diaphragm should run less than $15.00. That's a helluva a lot faster and cheaper than a new 1/12" valve that runs about $60.00 plus and the additional parts. Not to mention the time to dig out, cut out and replumb that valve. About an hour and a half or maybe even two hours.

I'll change the diaphragm every time!!

Jerry R

JimLewis
08-13-2004, 04:09 AM
ust change the valve to much time wasted running in circles. Checking voltage is still a good idea.

I'm with GrazerZ. I wouldn't even waste all that time figuring out what was wrong with that valve. I'd just cut it out and replace it. Quick, simple, done.

Might cost the customer $10 in parts but you'll save them hours in labor troubleshooting the problem.

Valves are pretty cheap and easy to replace in most situations. I can't see why I'd waste any time doing anything more than that.

DGI
08-13-2004, 08:16 AM
How come you guys are prescribing tearing open the valve without first checking the voltage in some way? He should at least turn the zone on from the clock and see if the noid buzzes.

You can use a solenoid from another valve to check it at the clock. It's best to turn that station on at the clock, put your meter on it, and then go out to the field to check it there. That's after you've determined that the solenoid does not buzz/vibrate when the clock is on.

If the solenoid is still apparently working, then go for the internals. If it doesn't, start there.


Acute Cut: You're right about the solenoid. Unscrewing it while the mainline is pressurized will open the valve.

What brand/version of irrigation timer do you have? Did you buy the correct solenoid that you changed out in the first place?

jerryrwm
08-13-2004, 10:02 AM
How come you guys are prescribing tearing open the valve without first checking the voltage in some way? He should at least turn the zone on from the clock and see if the noid buzzes.

That would be the normal proceedure if one had first walked onto the property.

But... he has said that he has already found the valve, changed out the solenoid and the valve still didn't work.

I gave him the information to fix the problem based on the information that he had given and the symptoms described.


I'm with GrazerZ. I wouldn't even waste all that time figuring out what was wrong with that valve. I'd just cut it out and replace it. Quick, simple, done.

Might cost the customer $10 in parts but you'll save them hours in labor troubleshooting the problem.

Valves are pretty cheap and easy to replace in most situations. I can't see why I'd waste any time doing anything more than that.

With valve problems, I have found it is faster for me to just replace the solenoid, diaphragm, and top to valve rather than clean it out, see if it works, try again, check solenoid with volt meter, replace one part at a time, etc.... unless of course you get no current to the valve from the timer.

Maybe I'm a bit to much from the old school, and the things I was taught and the things that I have learned won't allow me to be a 'parts changer'. The "cut it out and put in a new one rather than try to find out what the problem is." is really sad.

Must be too busy to do a little thought-provoking troubleshooting. Well how busy are you going to be when you have to dig up a 2" mainline and some knothead installed the valves in a mainifold with the fittings butted together, and it is the middle valve that is defective. You going to cut it out? That should cut right into that super busy schedule to the tune of about 6 hrs.

I wonder if you would like your mechanic to take that same approach when working on your equipment. "Well, the truck idles a little ragged and it hesitates in traffic, sooo... Let's change out the carbuerator." Or" the truck pulls a little to the right and I noticed that tire is a little lower than the rest, sooo...Let's change out that wheel."

If you don't have time to do it right, why don't you hire a professional? You are going to charge the customer for the repair work anyway. Hire a professional irrigator, have them do the work, submit a bill to you, you mark it up 10 - 15% and you've made money just making a phone call and the job it done right.

And I'd like to know where you can find 1-1/2" valves for $10.00.

Off to troubleshoot a couple of valves that won't turn on. Of course I have to drag out the old 521 and locate them first.

Have a good one,

Jerry

SprinklerGuy
08-13-2004, 11:12 AM
Dammit!



I got to this post too friggin slow....but I was going to say almost EXACTLY what Jerry said.

I gotta get up earlier in the morning...I'm slipping. Wonder where HB Foxx is....he would have loved this one too.


yes
reverse flow valve..fail in closed position....
bad diaphragm
hard to find valve probably...don't bother looking for bonnet....good luck finding diaphragm probably.
blah blah blah...old school..do it right...blah blah

That should cover it...

oh yeah...I'm also w/ Dana Mac on this.

PS
Dana...I emailed you about me being in Yellowstone....did you go fishing at 11 mile? Oh yeah...get those referrals ready man...my van should be here on Saturday Nite......time to get scraped hands, hurt knees, sore back/neck and muddy and dirty again. I'm really looking forward to it.

Acute Cut
08-13-2004, 11:29 AM
ok. Thank you all very much. I am going to try and finish my mowing route fast enough today so that i can get over to the water guys and get the parts i need. I am not charging the customer for other than parts. He cant beat that deal. He gives me great deals on tires so all is good. Besides, he knows i am learning still. This is the same guy that i left water in his brass backflow preventer. Oops. I really dont want to change the whole valve as it is not exactly in the ideal area. Besides i want to LEARN! I will let you know as soon as i do what has happened. Probably will be around 6-7 pst.

JimLewis
08-13-2004, 11:54 AM
The "cut it out and put in a new one rather than try to find out what the problem is." is really sad....... Must be too busy to do a little thought-provoking troubleshooting. Well how busy are you going to be when you have to dig up a 2" mainline and some knothead installed the valves in a mainifold with the fittings butted together, and it is the middle valve that is defective. You going to cut it out? That should cut right into that super busy schedule to the tune of about 6 hrs.

No, It's not that we're too busy to do some real work. My recommendation to just switch out the valve is based on several things.

For one, someone said it was a weathermatic valve. In my experience, we always have trouble with those. So I'd change it out for a Rainbird valve - something I know well and I know is very reliable.

For two, changing out valves where I live anyway, isn't any 6 hour endeavor. 'Round here pipe and valves are supposed to be buried 8" deep. But usually I find them more like 5-6" deep. And it's just 3/4" or 1" pipe. And even if the valves are butted together close, it's not a very long job to dig up the manifold, cut out one valve, and replace it. We can usually do it it about 30-60 minutes around here. Maybe my mistake was forgetting that it's probably different elsewhere.

Third, there are guys who have years and years of experience who can troubleshoot this stuff quickly. My foreman is like that. He'd know right off the bat what was wrong. My experience isn't so much in the field as it is with managing. But I'd still probably have about a 60% chance of diagnosing it quickly. If I couldn't, I have close friends who I could call and describe the problem to and we'd get it zeroed in quickly. BUT the guy who started this thread admittedly had little experience with this and was obviously wasting a lot of time diagnosing this fairly simple problem. I'm assuming he's charging the customer for all this wasted time. So at this point in his irrigation career, it's just cheaper and quicker for the customer if he just replaces the valve and moves on.

Sure, it's noble to learn all the troubleshooting and fix it the right way. I am all for that. Get some schooling, read some more books, talk more on lawnsite. But when a customer is paying you by the hour, get it freakin' done as quick as possible with as little expense to the customer as possible. While you're on their dime, it isn't the time to be teaching yourself and guessing.

GrazerZ
08-13-2004, 01:50 PM
Simple economics, not an attempt to escape thinking.

Acute Cut
08-15-2004, 10:49 AM
Final Captians log. (I wonder if Kirk said this to himself in the bathroom............)

Sprinkler is FIXED!!!!!!!!!! WAHOO!!!!!!!!! It was indeed the diaphram. I tried to get some pics but you cant really see the problem that well. The best way to explain it is that the sides had "dimples". I am guessing this was why it was only partially working like Jerry mentioned. I was sooooo happy i took my wife out dancing. She was happy.

Thanks everyone for thier help. It is truely appreciated more than i can put into words.

DanaMac
08-15-2004, 12:01 PM
Good job. No need to make a job bigger than necessary.

Instant Rain
08-15-2004, 04:11 PM
There are advantages to rebuilding a valve if you know how one works. Also while replacing the diaphragm you should also replace the solenoid and the exhaust port on Weathermatic valves. The ports on some older valves are prone to developing cracks and allow the valve to seep. Changing the soleniod will help prevent call backs on the same valve. Although you may be able to charge again for the second visit. The customer may call a different company or expect you to fix it free because all they know is that you said you fixed it and now its not working again.
Sorry to be so negetive, glad its working now.

DanaMac
08-15-2004, 06:27 PM
I usually replace all 4 parts actuallt - top to valve, spring, diaphragm, and solenoid. But not always.

HBFOXJr
08-16-2004, 08:58 AM
I don't know anything about Weathermatic valves. Many valves have an o-ring or sealing washer of some sort under the solinoid. When these devices are not in place the solinoid and plunger set too deep. When activated, not enough clearance exists to let enough water pass downstream and reduce the water pressure on top of the diaphram. Then the valve does not open or only opens a tiny bit.

Valves are very simple. Nearly all electric irrigation valves are of the type "normally closed". If you understand how they work most are easy to diagnose and repair. And with the diaphram and solinoid being the only moving parts it doesn't get much easier except to make sure voltage is correct and internal bleed ports are clean.

koster_irrigation
08-17-2004, 07:50 PM
i run across very little weathermatic here in wilson.. turbo3 sprinklers seem pretty decent