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I'm Stumped with Controller Error. Need Help

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by mx315, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. mx315

    mx315 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    I'm in the process of doing a cleanup job and moving a well pump for a customer. We replaced the pump, all three valves and the pump start relay, then started reconnecting and repairing all the pipes to the zones. Zone 1 is working fine and has good pressure. Zone 2 works fine and has good pressure, but every time I try to run Zone 3 I get "3 err". I read about Rain Bird controllers having this issue so I replaced the controller with a new ESP-4M controller and get the same "3 err" code. So I thought maybe it's a bad valve, so I replaced #3 valve with a new valve and get the same error. I called Rain Bird and they said it sounds like a bad wire or connection, I pulled off all the grease caps, clipped all the ends and reconnected the wires...same error again. I plan on replacing all the wiring this afternoon, but other than that I have run out of things to try. Any ideas for the next step in resolving this "3 err" would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,259

    Do some electrical testing with a multimeter. Resistance measurements.
  3. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Ditto, should have started here.
  4. mx315

    mx315 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    Will do. thanks
    I haven't done much work on wells, most of ours are on reclaimed water meters. My bid was to connect to the meter but the home owner changed his mind and decided he wanted to move the well, so I told him I would do what I could and call a well company if needed. But it has turned into a pretty good learning experience for me and I don't want to let the well win. What range should I be looking for coming out of a ESP-4?

    Messages: 18,668

    Did you replace the panel or the whole timer? Replacing the panel only will not solve the RB controller problem.
  6. mx315

    mx315 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    I replaced the whole thing. It has new pump, timer, valves and pump start relay. I was planning to replace the wires next because everything else is new.
    I forgot to mention that I tried to change #3 zone on the timer to #4 and it did the same thing.
  7. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    A lot of the modern controllers have indicators for when a zone valve has an electrical problem, whether the solenoid itself or the wiring between the controller and the solenoid. They'll often indicate "Fuse 3" or "Error 3" (or something similar) to tell you it had an electrical problem with a particular valve. The controller will then skip that valve and move along to the next one. Some controllers also have a valve test mode that will quickly go out and check each valve without firing it so you can basically do a diagnostics test on all of them and then repair what is required.
  8. h2oman

    h2oman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    I had the same problem 2 weeks ago, but not with the pump, etc...etc... I found that the common wire had come loose. Hook up the multimeter to the controller on zone 3 and presto...
  9. mx315

    mx315 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    Well, I said it was a good learning experience and I learned a big lesson on this one... Never trust the previous installers notes or labels! The original wiring was labeled by zone, all the wires were blue with one white common wire and the solenoids were labeled by number. They were laid out and numbered in order of 1 2 3. When I changed all the wires with color coded timer wire and I started to run the zones the colors I installed didn't match up to the numbers on the timer or solenoids, they were actually laid out as 1 3 2. All this time I was working on zone 3, but it was the zone 2 valve that was having issues. I changed the solenoid for zone 2 and it started working. Man that made me fell like an idiot. Thanks for all the help... lesson learned.

    Messages: 18,668

    Glad it got solved. One to add to the endless rolodex of lessons learned in this business.

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