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Can't get one zone to stop running

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Abbrian, Jun 8, 2020.

  1. Abbrian

    Abbrian LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 9

    For years, when we've had an irrigation issue, we've called our installer. Things are a little tight lately so I'm really trying to troubleshoot an issue myself, but I've got hours with no luck. Our controller can be off but when I turn on the water main, one zone immediately comes on.

    Some quick history:
    • We have a Hunter system that's about ten yrs old.
    • It was working fine at end of season last year.
    • This year, when turning on the system, I over-tightened a plug and snapped the external plumbing. Once I got everything rebuilt, I finally turned on the system and discovered the "constant running zone" issue. I first went looking for PVC shavings in the valve.
    Here's what I've done so far:
    • I have eight zones total. Turning solenoid heads, I was able to identify that six of them were NOT tied to the faulty zones because i could get those zones to run manually.
    • I zeroed in on the other two zones. Removed the solenoids. Temporarily swapped solenoids in the box to see if I could narrow it down to a solenoid issue. The problem persisted.
    • So I took apart the valve assemblies for the two suspected zones. First thing that happened was water completely filled my boxes, so now I've got dirt and grass floating all around. I inspected the assemblies, no tears, no pre-existing debris, was able to squeeze the valve and shoot water out. So they valves SEEM fine, but now I've got debris in there.
    If you're still reading, THANK YOU. Now, my questions:
    • How do I prevent my box from flooding when taking a valve apart?
    • How do I now clean out the area of the valve assembly that is under water and now full of debris?
    • Why does that one zone continue to run???
    Really appreciate your help on this, everyone!

    PS - Image of box here: https://imgur.com/a/lbx0Cf6

    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
  2. Matthew Cleland

    Matthew Cleland LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Let water come out slowly and bail as needed
    Shop vac works great for cleaning.
    Its probably a tiny tear in the diaphragm or rusty solenoid plunger. Just replace the guts, bonnet and solenoid.
  3. RhettMan

    RhettMan LawnSite Gold Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 3,122

    Replace everything.
  4. windflower

    windflower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,480

    Agree, easy and shouldn't be over $30.
  5. benhargreaves

    benhargreaves LawnSite Member
    Messages: 163

    A tip to help avoid getting water in the valve box is to turn a zone on prior to turning off your water supply and opening up a valve. If possible turn on the zone which is lowest on your property. This will help bleed off water in the system prior to opening your valve. This will not completely eliminate water in the valve box, but it can help a lot.
    Shindaiwa_operator and nickg13 like this.
  6. OP

    Abbrian LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 9

    Thanks all, just simply bailing the water out helped keep the levels low enough. I'd be happy to replace everything, but I can't figure out what to replace. I've got 8 total valves and am having difficulty figuring out which of them is the culprit. At this point, I've taken almost all of them apart. Spent another few hours out there this morning with no real progress!
  7. windflower

    windflower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,480

    With the system pressurized and the bad zone running turn on one zone at a time. When nothing new happens that's the one.
    nickg13 likes this.
  8. nickg13

    nickg13 LawnSite Member
    from NY
    Messages: 160

    Did you check the bleed screw on each valve (it's the small black 4-point knob next to the solenoid)? Opening that to the point water comes out will activate the valve (just like turning the solenoid except this one will dribble water out). Is one leaking? If not and assuming all your solenoids are closed then isolate the faulty zone and replace everything inside the valve body.

  9. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 17,645

    trying to be as friendly as possible here but there are too many things you don’t know.
    You’re causing yourself more headaches by diy than you’re saving money.
    Mow your own lawn, but hire someone who knows what they’re doing with irrigation.
  10. Hayduke

    Hayduke LawnSite Senior Member
    from Oregon
    Messages: 411

    I have to disagree with the replace everything approach being cheap and easy and always effective. Replacing the diaphragm, solenoid and bonnet in a Hunter PGV or HPV solves the problem less than half of the time in my experience, probably less than even a quarter of the time.
    Problem is the valve is stuck open usually because some piece of grit or gravel got stuck between the diaphragm and the seat, damaging the diaphragm. But the offending particle also damages the seat, leaving a small nick or dent in the hard plastic which necessitates replacement of the entire valve. More often than not, replacing a valve is not a cheap and easy job, because of the digging conditions or how they were installed..

    ...unless they are HPVs with the old diaphragms that rotted away in the presence of chlorine. If the rubber seal which goes against the seat is corroded and pitted from chlorine, then replacing just the diaphragm will solve the problem.

    But I agree with TPendagast.

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