Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by laubo, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. laubo

    laubo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Product: RainBird ESP-6TM Controller with three 100-DV Electric Control Valves.


    1. Worked fine for first year and a half, although after a hard rain, electric control valves and wire connectors would be submerged for two or three days.

    2. Started blowing controller fuse. Replaced fuse and rewired connections with water-resistant wire nuts. Worked fine for a while, then started blowing fuses.

    3. Determined zone 1 electric control valve was the problem by disconnecting it, running zones 2 and 3 with no problem. Reconnected zone 1 and fuse blew immediately. Replaced zone 1 electric control valve and system worked fine for two weeks, then blew fuse again.

    Current Situation:

    I've fixed the problem with the valves and connections being submerged.

    I can replace the fuse and go through the zones using the manual button with no problem. I let the system run it's normal cycle on one day (1 hour each zone), but on the next normal cycle day a fuse blows. It seems to blow when zone 2 starts, because from all apperances zone 1 has come on, but zone 2 hasn't (the area is dry).

    Are there other factors I need to consider -- another bad electric control valve, a controller problem, or something else? I'm using 1/2 amp, 250 volt, fast-acting fuses -- is fast-acting a problem? I'm at my wit's end.

    Thanks, Bob
  2. JeffY

    JeffY LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 324

    Looking at Rainbird's Website, it lists the fuse used as: 250v, 0.5amp, 3AG. The number for the fuse is 650097-13. That means it's a Time Delay type fuse. I would suggest replacing with one of those, as the fast-acting fuses tend to blow just below .5amps and time delay fuses can hold the .5 and even go past for a short period of time before blowing.
  3. JeffY

    JeffY LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 324

    Ooops, I checked further and located in the manual that you're to replace it with a Fast-Blo fuse. The fuse may be blowing because of a short in the wire somewhere. If possible, change the wires to the problem solenoid and see if that helps. It very well could be a bad solenoid that is causing your fuse to blow.
  4. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    Could be a bad solenoid. Use an OHM meter to check the one that you said you disconnected and another one that's working ok. I had one go bad, kept blowing the controler fuse just like yours. THe bad soleniod ohmed at like 5 or 6, I don't remember, just know that it was the culprit.

    EDIT, found this on another post!

    With the common and station wire disconnected from the clock you can test the two wires.
    0-5 ohms shorted solenoid
    8-10 shorted solenoid or perhaps multiple valves on the station wire
    10-50 or 55 should be ok
    above that you likely have bad connections, nicked or broken wires or an open solenoid.

    You can then check the solenoid at the valve and see if it is shorted or open.

    If the solenoid checks out ok, you can isolate which wire (station or common) is bad by doing an ohm check to ground and seeing the difference in their resistance.
  5. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    Its either bad solinoid, or the common is grounding out (much more likely).

    Redo the connections on the zone that is causing the fuse to blow. I'll often run wire directly to the valve from the timer (above ground, temporarily) and run the zone to see if its the solinoid or the wiring (I've even had solinoids that ohm'ed properly still blow the fuse).

    Also, are you using waterproof connections?
  6. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    There has been a lot of good electronic advice already offered. The only thing I'll add is that it just might be the controller itself. We don't use these so I'm not familiar with their history or peculiarities. Since we only use Irritrol MC-Plus controllers I can relate that there have been problems from time to time. Two of the major ones encountered that drove us batty were:

    1. We had two controllers at one site fusing out all the time. Even when we ultimately replaced the worse one the new one would fuse out also. We investigated everything including potential interference from pump motor interference to HAM radio operation interference. Finally after we replaced the controller for the third time the problem went away. Irritrol wouldn't cop to anything but it seemed that once we got through controllers built within a certain time frame the problem went away.

    2. Several controllers at various sites would sometimes lose various stations, including a master valve for booster pump activation at one site. We checked EVERYTHING including running new wire to affected valves over ground like Jon did. Just by chance one time I noted that a valve would work sometimes and it was acting like a loose wire. Come to find out Irritrol had cut back the amount of solder used for securing the contact pins to the terminal board. By using a magnifying loop I could see that this allowed contact pins to break free of the solder and float through it, sometimes making contact and other times not. I removed the five terminal boards from the affected controllers and resoldered them back at the shop. BINGO! Problem solved.

    Now, as a warning, most maufacturers won't acknowledge specific problems but will offer to fix the controller if it is still under warranty. I did note that after several complaints from us (and maybe others) Irritrol went back to ensuring that the treminal boards had adequate soldering and have never encountered this problem again.

    I know that controller/wiring problems can be a real pain. Eventually you will find out what the problem is, correct it and be better off on future problems.
  7. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    ESP Modular systems are not as easy to fix as the Irritrol MC's.

    However, on the plus side, I have yet to have one go bad on us.
  8. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    Hayes has a point that it could be the controller. It is a 6 station, so move the wire. The fact that zone 1 runs does not mean that zone 1 ran to complettion and the fuse blew at 2. Most likely, if it is a wiring problem, your fuse blew when things warmed up, not at start. Marginal solenoid or wire resistance will blow your circuit after several minutes of run. It your running for an hour, I would suspect your problem is self creating in that once things get wet, your resistance increases and then the fuse blows. Are we using multi wire? Do you have a working spare? Since you have replaced the valve/solenoid (you did replace the solenoid, and not just the valve under it?), the wiring or the controller are suspect. Testing the controller is the easiest. If the same wiring blows the fuse when you move it around, then I hope you have spare wire. GL
  9. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    What this would do is give you a fresh look at the problem. I'd first use a spare control wire to #1 solenoid and see if changing of the wire stops the problem. Then you could also wire the valves in reverse order (1-6, 2-5, 3-4) and then run a complete program. If it fires properly through 4 and 5 and then trips the fuse again at 6 (original 1) then you know positive that there is something wrong with either the wiring or solenoid.

    Rainbird suggests in their troubleshooting section: "Replace the fuse with one of the same amperage rating. Use the MAN START / ADV. button to run a watering program. Press MAN START / ADV. to cycle through each station. If the fuse blows again on a particular station, that station's solenoid or field wires may have a short circuit that needs repair."

    Hopefully we haven't muddied the waters for you. Most of us just instinctively perform certain investigative tasks in order and often don't think about them because of years of experience. Sometimes this is not a good thing but we get through it.

    Let us know how things are progressing.
  10. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    ROFLMAO. Oh for the times when having a "fresh" face look at the problem from a different approach, and ...........wham. There is the answer you've been struggling for.....hours?days? to find and they get it in the first 10 min because they look at the problem differently. I still believe 99% of what we do is tenacity. Not patients, because I know I have very little, but that "I've got my teeth in it and I just ain't letting go" philosophy. Don't get me wrong, the wrong kind of lack of patients will have you up a tree and looking for a new line of work.

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