Finding Phantom Valves???

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Clay, Aug 22, 2003.

  1. Clay

    Clay LawnSite Member
    Posts: 236

    I've got a clock that the wires disappear under the concrete patio and can only locate 3 of the six valves being controlled by this clock.... One that I cannot locate needs repaired (won't turn on)but have been unable to locate with a valve finder that hooks up to the clock and makes a clicking sound at the valve....

    This is a rather large gated community and there were never maps made of valve locations and they could be anywhere... I recently found a similar situation and the valve in question was located over 100 feet from the others....

    Any other ideas on how to locate phantom valves would be greatly appreciated as there will be many more to come in this complex as there are over 90 valves and many are not visable...

    Thanks for any suggestions... Clay
  2. Mark B

    Mark B LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    You might want to try using a wire locator. I have used them before to find missing valves. After you find the wire bundle dig down and count the wires that you find. Then you can use a wire identifier (sp) to double check that you are on the right wire. I would locate the bundle a bit farther and dig down again and count the wires and repeat the step 1. You might find on the second dig that there is only 5 -4 wires then back up till you find the split. I hope for you the the wiring was done using single strand and not multi strand. If it is in multi then you will more then likely have a bigger problem during the locating process. Hope this helps
  3. jasond

    jasond LawnSite Member
    Posts: 72

    If you look on ebay, you can find many different types of locators. Some can even tell you the depth, where the break in the line is, etc.

    Do some research online...if you are going to do irrigation work, you will definately need one!
  4. thill

    thill LawnSite Member
    Posts: 245


    Faced with the same problem, I rented a Progressive 521 wire tracer. They can be really great when tracing single wires.

    Many supply houses rent them.

    Unfortuantely, this site used multiconductor jacket cable and is over 2.5 acres. I got skunked.

    We are now down to marking grids on this particular zone and mechanically probing. It will take some time and we just pray that the valve box is not in a different zone.

    Good luck

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Posts: 5,137

    can u put dye in the system
  6. Clay

    Clay LawnSite Member
    Posts: 236

    Thanks for the replies guys....

    Ended up finding the valve in question with a valve finder that emits a humming sound at the valve... A box with 3 valves in it was buried in the middle of a large turf area and the turf was completely (I mean completely) grown over the box... and with only an inch of topsoil the turf was growing and as green and the surrounding turf.... go figure???

    "dye in the system???" :dizzy: I'm confused...
  7. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Posts: 4,041

    Here is a wire finder that I found.

  8. Clay

    Clay LawnSite Member
    Posts: 236

    Thanks Gopher...

    The 508S looks like it would be just what the doctor ordered :)
  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    This is a common challenge for us when we are doing irrigation repair. There is usually a lost valve box or two if the system has been there for several years.

    I've always been able to find the valve boxes relatively easily. However, I've not been able to pass that trait on to my foreman. I guess we just think differently. But here's how I generally do it;

    First, I get myself a BIG LONG screwdriver. After I drink that, I am good to go. No. Just kidding. I mean a real screwdriver. One that is like 18" long.

    Next, I begin to logically deduce where I would put valve boxes if I were designing the system. Sometimes there are several possibilities. But I just go over each area poking around the ground with my long screwdriver hoping to hit something hard (e.g. a valve box cover)

    I'd say probably 85% of the time, just doing the above, I'll find missing valve box within 30 minutes.

    The other 15% of the time, the valves are just somewhere stupid (e.g. under a deck, in the middle of the lawn, etc.) and so I go to plan B. Plan B involves digging up the irrigation line and getting a clue which directions it goes in. As I find pipe (starting at the heads to that zone) and begin to figure out which direction it comes from. It doesn't take too long to figure out where the lines in that lateral zone point to. Then I have a pretty good idea where the valve should be. I begin poking around there and find it.

    I've never really felt a need to get a wire locater. We've only ever had one that was a real time killer. And I don't think a locater would have found it anyway. The pipe and wires were burried 2' deep. But I knew this one was going to be a pain so I told the client before hand that it would be a time and materials thing just to find the valve. They were okay with that. Other than that one time, I've always been able to find hidden valves fairly quickly.
  10. turfman59

    turfman59 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 801

    Go out and invest in a Progressive 521 wire tracker.... used on Ebay usually around $350.00. new price $750.00

    Quick pay back and clients are usually amazed at how quick you pin point the valve Its the best thing I have bought since my cable plow, Its a must have if your doing any type of trouble shooting....

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