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Tracing unenergized wires?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by AceSprinkleRx, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. AceSprinkleRx

    AceSprinkleRx LawnSite Member
    from Wyoming
    Posts: 95

    How do you trace an unenergized wire to a hidden valve? And will the 521 trace an unenergized wire to a valve?

  2. You only want to trace unenergized wires with the 521.....so yes.
  3. kerdog

    kerdog LawnSite Member
    Posts: 129

    Hey Ace-----

    The locator will 'energize' that wire. By connecting the transmitter to the wire in question, it induces a radio signal on the wire, and the locator (the receiver), picks up the signal.

  4. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk LawnSite Member
    Posts: 195

  5. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,781

    For doing what an irrigation tech does for a living and for other wire/valve locating efforts, the 521 will do everything but cook you lunch. Notice I didn't say that it won't buy you lunch because when I was working for a much better boss than the one I have now (current boss is a SOB from you know where), my 521 paid for lunch on several occasions. The only possible drawback a 521 has is it won't trace a "hot" wire. You must direct connect to a wire that has no voltage (or minimal voltage) for the device to work. Buy one, use it, play with it on those scratch your head calls and you will find uses that even the revered manual doesn't talk about. A progressive toner kit is a must purchase in my opinion w/ the 521. It will save you lots of time and effort. Oh, one more thing, remeber!!! once you turn on the 521, that wire isn't dead anymore. That includes sticking your hand in water filled boxes :)

    Buying new was my only option when I needed one, and I bought the 528 instead. It's a great tool, but it falls WAY short of the 521. Works the same way, but you have no power output control w/ the 528 and all you have is an open reciever, no head phones w/ the 528. The headphones really spark the mystery for the bystanders when you walk back and forth and then say "it's right here" and hit the valve box lid w/ your shovel payup
  6. AceSprinkleRx

    AceSprinkleRx LawnSite Member
    from Wyoming
    Posts: 95

    Keep in mind this is my "first" time on someone elses property, even though this is to just help him out and get some OTJ experience.

    What I uncovered was this: An old RB EZ1 controller in the garage with the wiring going back into the wall and presumably out underneath the front porch deck. Approx. 20' away I uncover a group of cut wiring next to a male threaded 1 1/4" PVC. which I figured was there because of the goofy tie-in into the hose bib from inside the interior wall (In order to turn the water, there is a fist-sized hole cut into the ceiling bedroom in the basement.)


    The garage and controller are around the corner to the left with a fairly permanent good sized entryway deck between both points. I had to dig down maybe 6" to uncover an open pipe and the cut wires.

    With most of the heads are cracked and full of packed dirt from years of non-use, would you continue to attempt to repair and chase down leaks, broken wiring, etc., or would you consider a new install?

    If I had a 521 I could connect here and trace either back to the controller or out to the valves, correct? (Depending upon which way the wires ran obviously) Personally if it were mine, I would install over the top just so I knew what was where and could have confidence in it. I'd say you'd want to advise a customer with the same advice you'd give to yourself or a family member, even if it were more costly to the customer.
  7. kerdog

    kerdog LawnSite Member
    Posts: 129

    Hey Ace---

    Yea, you've got a mess, what a job to get some OJT!
    Maybe, that previous owner took the zone valves with him. Maybe they were installed in that vertical piece, you were talking about in the other thread. If you have free access to the locator, you could practice with it, and see if the cut wires that are in the ground, next to the 1-1/4 coupling, lead to a valve(s), somewhere out in the yard. Who knows? How many wires are there, how many zones wired in at the controller? Maybe 1-2 valves were in that vertical piece, maybe another 1-2 valves somewhere out in the yard.
    Could try hooking up that 'hose-bib' to the 1-1/4 coupling, and turn on the water, and see what happens.
    Still have the 'no back flow prevention' problem, too.
    Bringing this system back to life, could tie up a few week-ends. Depends on how much 'experience' you want. Ha! If you could find some valves, or get some water to it, and see what shape its in, that might help determine where to go from there. You know, whether to abandon it and start over, or try to salvage some of it. You have fallen into a 'good' one!


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