How to find valves in a lawn

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by PHS, Apr 21, 2008.

  1. PHS

    PHS LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 724

    I'm from California originally and I don't remember seeing this before but in this area the irrigation companies put the valves for each lawn station actually out in the lawn. So if you have multiple stations around the house the valves boxes are scattered all over the yard and with Centipede and St. Augutine a year goes by and they are almost impossible to find. Sometimes it looks like sod is just laid down over the top of the valve boxes because all of my properties have valves that I've never been able to find. The installers aren't providing drawings of the designs to the homeowner either, I've asked.

    So my problem is that I have some aerations that I want to do but I don't want to run the aerator accross the lawn and break unknown valve boxes. I'm also worried that the wires may be buried unprotected and close to the surface because I've damaged them before an inch or two below the surface while landscaping.

    Does anyone have suggestions for finding the valve boxes and/or associated wires? I know I can put disclaimers into the contract before I do the work but the last thing I want to do is destroy someones system and then spend however much time to fix it.
  2. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,535

    There are inexpensive tools that can help find valves.

    Wire tracing isn't that difficult, but it involves more expensive equipment and learning how to use it, and you might want to call a professional to do that for you...
  3. HeadsUpGV

    HeadsUpGV LawnSite Member
    Posts: 21

    There are devices (relatively inexpensive) that will cause the solenoids to "chatter" so that you can locate them by the sound.
  4. PHS

    PHS LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 724

    Thanks for the link on the chatter box. I'll pick one of those up. Is the unit used for wire tracing similar to what they use to locate underground utilities? What would be a ballpark price for one? I have a landscape business so it's something that I could potentially use on a regular basis.
  5. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 47,722

    You can't count on being permitted to fix what you break. Either you budget for it, or hope you can get some sort of waiver before you begin your work. No question that a "chatterbox" will help you find valves.
  6. BrandonV

    BrandonV LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,229

    I have a raycom somthing. It was in the neighorhood of 2-3k with all the toys and extras. If does a great job with utilities. But remember if to still have uloco or equiv out because if you screw up its on on.
  7. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,988

    A cool deal about the WM has a built-in "chatterbox". Could that be
    because Texas contractors don't know how to manifold?
  8. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 47,722

    Either that or they put the solenoid in their shorts. :)
  9. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,535

    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
  10. PHS

    PHS LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 724

    I worked for a tree service company for 7 years so I've had to deal with property damage a few times :). I was just trying to figure out how to avoid causing the damage.

    I don't need a tool to locate utilities just irrigation stuff and finding landscape lighting wires would be nice if it could do that too. I did some research and may go with a pro-tech 600. Thanks guys

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