grounding irrigation system

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by i_plant_art, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. i_plant_art

    i_plant_art LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 558

    guys i need some good advice i dont do much irrigation work right now so im not up on all of the proper install methods. I have a job where i dont think the system is grounded. all of the valves are in the same box in a straight line, all connected together correctly. zones 1-5 run fine without any propblems but when it gets to zone 6 the timmer shuts off after about 7 minutes. Ive used my timmer to test the system... same thing happens. Used new wires w/o burrying them to test system with old and new timmer....same thing.... In the ground where the valves are is a wire comming from out of the ground going into the soil.... cant tell where it goes to or what it is attatched to ( if at all on the other end). My question is .. is this the ground wire..... if so what is on the other end of this wire? a metal rod? nothing but exposed wire? or does it run back to the home somewhere else to ground out? When groundign a system how do you properly ground the system ? How can you check to see if the system is grounded.?

    Thanks for the helps guys.
  2. JeffY

    JeffY LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 324

    I've never heard of sprinkler systems being grounded. There is no need for them to be grounded since it is low voltage. The reason a grounding wire exists in electrical systems is to provide a safe path for abnormal and short-circuited energy, (excess voltage) to go where minimal damage will occur.

    I'm not sure how the valves are wired up to the clock in your case. The way it should be connected is to have a one wire from each valve connect to a station on the clock. Since it's 6 zones, use a 8 strand wire. I typically wire the clock ROY G BIV...or red, orange, yellow, green, blue, brown, then black. Connect all the other wires from the valves and wire that to the common wire, usually white. That's all that should be wired into the clock from valves.

    Let me know if you know more information, I'll help.
  3. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    Have you checked to see if there is a rain switch somewhere? Maybe at the end of that wire that you saw coming out of the ground? Or perhaps a pump/ Wire may be running to the pump start relay.

    It sounds as though you have a bare wire, and after about 7 minutes of watering on zone 6, it shorts out.

    What kind of controller is it?

  4. i_plant_art

    i_plant_art LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 558

    i know how to wire the system its done right ive checked it out many times...... it is a rain bird controller. both the customers and mine. i have spent roughly 3 hours on the phone at seperate time with rain bird and they have exhausted all resources. im a t a loss here really. its an existing maint. customer i have that has been good to me for years. i thought of the bare wire thing as well but it still does it with new wires. im lost..........
  5. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    I took into account that you knew how to wire the system up. But my bare wire theory was for rain switch or a pump start with the wire routed through the area watered by zone 6.

    If the system is shutting down after 7 minutes and you have used two controllers and new wires, then you may have a wire that is being shorted and it is most likely on zone 6. The controllers are working fine.

    Try this just for grins - Take the #6 wire and put it on the #1 terminal and fire the system up. If it craps out after 7 minutes or so, then you probably have a wire that is getting shorted by the water from those sprinklers. Or the rain switch may be mounted to low and the heads are tripping the microswitch.

  6. itteitj

    itteitj LawnSite Member
    from RI
    Messages: 74

    I have run across some installations that have an installed lock out only the original installer knows about. This will give you headaches. As mentioned try swapping zone 6 with zone 1. Try running dedicated wires from zones 1 and 6 to an external controller. Check controller output voltage when using zone 6 and make sure it is the same as when zone 1 is operating. If voltage is not the problem make sure solenoids are not blocked with dirt or rocks. You may have something blocking the water after zone 5.
  7. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,226

    Try replacing the solenoid for that individual valve. I have had timers that would blow the fuse after 2-3 minutes of running, and turned out to be the solenoid. I don't care if your volt meter or any other equipment says it is ok, it could still have a problem. it could heat up and short out after your 7 minutes.
  8. i_plant_art

    i_plant_art LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 558

    itteitj - have done that that was one of the things that rainbird suggested that i do .... ive done both things switching the wires and running dedicated lines.

    danamac - i have replaced the solenoid on that zone with a new one.. thought about the new one being faulty as well but what are the chances. i even swapped it with another one and still got the same responce.

    ive done everything in and out of the book to try and fix this but i am at a loss of things now..... im at the point where i am curious if it is her home electrical that is the problem and after a while it is just not pulling enough volts to the clock therefore causeing the clock to trip out...... could this be so....
  9. aquamtic

    aquamtic LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 303

    Did you try switching the wire ( not the common) from another valve that is working fine.
  10. dbielawski

    dbielawski LawnSite Member
    Messages: 26

    I had a similar thing once...the controller was plugged into a 110 volt curcuit that in turn was wired to a GFI (Ground Fault Interupter) plug. When a zone came on, the GFI got wet & tripped, causing the controller to shut off. Scratched my a head quite a bit before I figured it out.

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