Odd Irrigation Problem

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by grobbins6, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. grobbins6

    grobbins6 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 45

    Hello everyone-

    Here is a stumper for you....(I previously posted this in the homeowner section but never got a response; please forgive my posting here)....

    We recently moved to a new house and I finally had a chance to bring the irrigation system on line. It went fairly smoothly; one broken head and one that refuses to go down; and aside from replacing the damaged heads there is a bigger concern.

    When the system activates any of the zones, our upstairs toilet begins making the most horrendous pulsating noise and the filler tube begins pulsing water into the tank. The first time it happened I was outside and did not notice until an extra three inches of water was in the tank. It stops when you flush the toilet or depress the float enough to start some flow. I tested it with my wife and every time I activated a zone, it happened again.

    I can't imagine the previous homeowner experienced this as the neighbors say he used the system routinely.

    I am completely puzzled by this and have no idea what to do. The only other piece of information that could be important is that the water line feeding the irrigation system has an expansion tank on it. The valve to it was closed when I started up the system so I opened it after pressurizing the feed to the system but before pressurizing the zones.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 46,446

    Any pressure reducers in the house plumbing?
     
  3. WalkGood

    WalkGood LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,910

    Close the valve to the expansion tank and see if the chattering stops.
     
  4. grobbins6

    grobbins6 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 45

    Thanks for the responses!

    There are no pressure reducers in the house plumbing.

    I tried closing the valve to the expansion tank but it did not help. If I choked down the supply to the toilet it slowed things down but the problem still occurred.

    As of right now, I am going with the idea that it is a bad valve in the toilet and will try replacing it.

    Wish me luck!
     
  5. WalkGood

    WalkGood LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,910

    Note that there are special toilet tank valves that purposely relieve excess water pressure from the house water supply. Pressure can build up from water heaters when there are check valves installed that do not let the water expand back towards the water supply.
     
  6. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 46,446

    Is the expansion tank still functional? (not waterlogged) - If there are no PRVs or whole-house check valves, then something must be, or have been, wrong with the sprinkler system.
     
  7. WalkGood

    WalkGood LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,910

    I'm thinking the expansion tank might be dis-functional; he said my suggestion to close valve to that tank did not affect the problem.


    To grobbins..... does the toilet tank valve chatter continuously while the sprinklers are on or just for a moment when they first turn on?
     
  8. grobbins6

    grobbins6 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 45

    Thanks for all the responses!

    WG - The toilet surges continuously once the system comes on and continues even after the system turns off. Basically what is happening is that the fill tube is pulsing water into the tank and overfilling it. To make it stop, I have to either flush the toilet or pull up very hard on the float lever.

    We have an identical toilet on the same level that did not exhibit the same symptoms, even when I ran the irrigation system with the valve to the offending toilet closed. While I appreciate the suggestion about the PR toilet valve, this makes me think that it is not the case here.

    WB - I have no idea how to tell if the expansion tank is functional or not. I did just notice in a photo I took during one of our walk-throughs that the tank was not present at that time. The valve is there but no tank. The irrigation system has a PRV outside I believe...I will double check tonight.

    Man I hope this is as simple as replacing the toilet valve. If not; I am definitely finding a local guy to check things out. The neighbors tell me that a retired irrigation guy blows out the whole neighborhood in the fall but he won't do repairs so I will have to ask around for a recommendation.
     
  9. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 46,446

    Expansion tanks that work have air in them, and you can read the air pressure on the air valve, and add air if needed.

    What I don't see any evidence of, is of pressure readings being taken, before and during sprinkler operation. Poor data, poor assistance.
     
  10. WalkGood

    WalkGood LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,910

    A new toilet fill-valve is really inexpensive and easy to replace.

    The "mystery" expansion tank that suddenly appeared..... you can tell if it is brand spankin new by looking at it. Why was it not present earlier? Is it really part of the fresh water system of the house or is it only for a hotwater boiler closed pressure system?
     

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