Erratic Valve Solenoid/System

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by kew, May 14, 2008.

  1. kew

    kew LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    Hello. I have recently installed an irrigation system. I used a Pro-C controller for the front with 10 stations and another Pro-C controller for the back with 11 stations. Both units are fitted with modules allowing for 15 stations each. Also connected to each is the smartport wiring harness as I also utilise a remote control at times.

    About a month ago I noticed that a zone at the front and a zone at the rear were malfunctioning. Those zones are on different controllers and do not use any common wiring apart from the 240 volts domestic power. The solenoids were activating for a split second on each of the 2 zones at different times to each other maybe a few times a minute giving bursts through the sprinklers.

    I turned off the water and removed the solenoid on the front system and it was activating in my hand (going on an off a few times a minute) but it (according to the controller's display) the zone was not on. I ended up cleaning the valve etc. It hasn't done that since tonight when the greenhouse sprinklers were doing the same thing with a short burst a couple of time every minute.

    Again, when removed from the valve, I noticed the solenoid activate so it was getting an electrical charge to do so. I was thinking perhaps the controller may have received a power surge or something or perhaps the smartport was getting some sort of interference though nothing appears on the screens. I have run a "quick check" and there does not appear to be a problem with the wiring.

    The smartport is connected within about 2 feet of the controller and does not have shielded cable so it should be okay.

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
  2. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,984

    Welcome to the forum. I don't use the Hunter clocks, so someone else will have to
    jump in on that. I have had that problem before, but not on a fairly new (I assume)
    system. As a valve solenoid receives current, a amount of heat is generated, too much
    heat and the solenoid will short, where when it's cold, it'll fire for a instant. You could
    have this problem, I'm assuming you checked the controller settings for "pilot error".
    The easiest first thing would be test the solenoids with a volt-ohm meter (VOM).
    Remove the wires at the valves, set the VOM to "ohms", it should read between
    15 & 50 ohms. You can "ohm" the system from the clock, but check at the valve
    first, make sure you add new water-proof connectors when re-assembling.
  3. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,535

    Check the voltage outputs at the controller too. I had a problem with a diff. brand of controller recently where I was getting intermittent voltage readings of 7 to 12 VAC... Enough to open the valves just a little, and made them "pulse"...

    My problem turned out to be a warranty repair, and involved replacing a circuit board. Hopefully yours is simpler.
  4. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,984

    Whoa! That would have been a head scratcher to find, good going.:waving:
  5. also make sure you have the larger 9 zone expansion module after the two 3 zone modules IE: zones 7-15 for the larger module.....
  6. AI Inc

    AI Inc LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 25,393

    I use a real lot of these controllers and have never heard what you describe. To tell you the truth I have only heard of issuses like this when a controller is running on more then 110 v.
  7. anthonyslandscaping

    anthonyslandscaping LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    If the solidoid was activating without the timer being turned on for that zone then you have a faulty timer. Pull the plug on the timer, remove the battery, wait 15 secs. put battery back in and plug the timer in. hold down the reset button for 15 sec. then reprogram the timer. If this does not work then switch the solinoid with another zone wire and see if the problem persists. If it does then your timer is shot, and needs to be replaced.

    On a side note a Hunter pro-c is warranteed for 5 years from Hunter. Check the date code on the circut board.
  8. kew

    kew LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    Thanks for all your suggestions. I checked the wiring at the solenoid and the controller, both when the valve is on and when it is off and all appears okay using the ohms meter.

    The modules are all in the correct positions.

    All outside wires are sealed using gel caps and the unused wires in the controller are taped.

    I proceeded with a hard reset of both controllers and reprogrammed them. The symptom has not resurfaced however apart from last night, the previous time it did this was a month ago so if it going to resurface it may not for some time.

    I also read in the Hunter "trouble shooting common controller problems" literature which said "Make sure that the SmartPort wiring is not bundled with the field wiring. (Bundling wires may cause interference.)" I had bundled my smartport wires with the field wires so I rerouted those. However, I wasn't using the smartport remote control at the time so it probably wasn't affecting the system anyway.

    Anyway, all is calm now. Thank-you again!
  9. nylan8888

    nylan8888 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 137

    Since it is two seperate timers both acting the same. could it be a sugre from a storm that affected the electronics?
  10. kew

    kew LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    Hello nylan8888.

    We haven't had a recent storm or rain for that matter for a long time. We are in drought conditions here. For the garden I rely on pumping underground water. I have the green house valve open every 3 days at 1-15pm. I know it opened yesterday and the trouble occurred yesterday evening as far as I know as I did not notice it during the day. I'm very conscious of when the pump starts as the lights in the house sort of flicker for split second on the load of the pump starting up.

    When I see the lights flicker when there should be no watering, I know there is a problem such as a leak. I have had a problem with one of the disc filters not sealing properly in the past which caused the pump to cycle and thus make the lights flicker on the cycling of the pump.

    It is a very strange problem with the intermittent bursts from the sprinklers. I'm hoping the hard reset of the controller fixed the problem but if it means adding surge protection to the wall outlets I will do it, however I understand these Pro-C units already have surge protection.

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