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Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: August 27, 2010 10:04AM
Hello,

So we moved into a house with an in-ground sprinkler system. There are 10 stations and I'm getting an "8 ERR" on the Rainbird controller box display. I'm assuming that means there's a problem with station 8.

However, we don't have the stations mapped out nor did the previous owner. I've found a set of 5 inground valves/solenoids (you know, buried underground with only a green grass-colored circular round cap to tell you that it's there - if you can see it from above the green grass) in the front yard. I also found one additional one in the backyard. But, I'm guessing that there should be four more (ie, 10 stations...10 valves/solenoids). Problem is I can't find them. I had my kids walk the yard with me trying to find them under the grass, but no luck.

Also contacted the previous owner and he had no idea.

So, is there a way to figure out where these things are? Somehow trace it back from the controller or something like that?

Thanks.



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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: August 27, 2010 10:10AM
Pressurize the system with compressed air and run the controller through all the settings. The sprinkler heads will pop out of the ground and hiss. Then stick a little flag into the grass next to it.

That's what the sprinkler service people do.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: August 27, 2010 10:12AM
Quote
cbelt3
Pressurize the system with compressed air and run the controller through all the settings. The sprinkler heads will pop out of the ground and hiss. Then stick a little flag into the grass next to it.

That's what the sprinkler service people do.

But I'm not trying to find the sprinkler heads, I'm trying to find the solenoids/valves that control the sprinkler heads. Maybe I have my terminology incorrect.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: billb
Date: August 27, 2010 10:20AM
Compressed air.

That's how we blow ours out every Fall so there's no water in them. (or very little)

The error code is the wiring to the solenoid though, isn't it ?
Mine are 40/50 ohms if I remember right.
I have a box in the ground with all the solenoids in it.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: Mike Johnson
Date: August 27, 2010 10:26AM
They're at the intersection of the sprinkler lines, the low voltage cables, and the water supply. Trace each of those as far as you can & hope the valves are in a logical place. When I had to find a couple valves in my yard I did it by mapping out the copper pipes in the crawlspace and following one that exited at the side of the house. Right on the other side of that wall, under six inches of dirt and an inch of mulch and a salvia bush, I found 'em.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: August 27, 2010 10:32AM
Oh ! yes, what Mike said. You could theoretically trace the electrical wires that run them, but they're often low voltate. But the solenoid vault is usually put right outside the house where the main water line for the sprinklers runs through the wall. Some homeowners just hide it behind a shrub or under mulch. It doesn't have to be below the frost line, because the system (should) gets blown out every fall.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: GGD
Date: August 27, 2010 10:33AM
Are you certain that you really have 10 stations, or is that just the max the controller can support? Are there wires connected on the controller for all 10 stations? If you manually run station 10, does water come on some place?

Best way to look for them is to think about what the installer would have done, the valves would likely be close to the the house in order to connect to the plumbing, and in an area near the zone being watered.

It's also common for a group of valves to be clustered together sharing a common water source and wiring.

You might also be able to hear the solenoids as they turn on if you have someone manually turn the zones on/off while you search outside.


First thing I did when I moved into my house was map the sprinkler zones, and map the house wiring to know what circuit breaker controls each outlet and fixture. It's much easier to figure this stuff out when everything is working, than when it's not working.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: billb
Date: August 27, 2010 10:35AM
My boxes (one in front / one in back) look sorta like these.

The one in the back was about ten feet from the house in the middle of the lawn - easy to find.
The one in the front was between some bushes under several inches of mulch. Had to poke around with a long tine rake moving mulch to find it - figured it was 'straight out' from the house just like the on in the back, so it wasn't hard to find. Like Mike - looked for the most likely intersection spot.


I hope you have work boxes and everything is not just buried in the ground.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: Plumbking
Date: August 27, 2010 10:41AM
FWIW all sprinkler valves should be above ground. They are also a backflow prevention device and won't work if below ground. Or you can have a backflow preventer where your potable water ties into your sprinkler system.

Pinkoos, can you manually, via the controller, cycle through all your zones?

Just because your controller can do 10 zones doesn't mean they are all being used.

You say you can see the sprinkler heads. Are there any areas of your garden not getting water?

If I were to guess I'd say you need to find the other green box with 5 valves in it. Might be on the other side of the yard. Might be in the front of the house.

Good Luck
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: August 27, 2010 11:38AM
Thanks for all of the replies. I'm pretty sure there are 10 zones. We opened up the panel inside the controller box and saw the wiring for 10 stations. In fact, station 8 wiring was loose, so we tightened it and the error went away for a couple of days before returning again.

I can manually cycle through the zones, though I haven't had the chance or help to try and figure out what station controls what heads (it's a sizable front and back yard).

I definitely don't have those boxes. Only circular green caps for each valve, buried underneath green grass.

I guess I can try and trace out the paths, though I don't really know where they all intersect!
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: nwyaker
Date: August 27, 2010 03:45PM
Witching rods ( made from welding rod ) - use them all the time to find buried wire / pipe. No batteries. NOT kidding ! Or you could borrow someone's conventional metal detector.
PM me for info.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: Dubya
Date: August 27, 2010 05:04PM
Manually activate each station (zone). Then look at the area (ground) between the controller and the nearest sprinkler in each zone.

Must have a big yard. 10 zones is a lot.

Good luck,
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: Plumbking
Date: August 27, 2010 08:56PM
Quote
pinkoos
Only circular green caps for each valve, buried underneath green grass.

Get a shovel and start digging. They're all nearby.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: Carm
Date: August 27, 2010 10:36PM
Most of the time, the valves are close to the main water supply line going into the house, close to the timer. That has been my experience with a few houses.

Joe
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: September 01, 2010 03:56PM
I'm continuing to look. Our handy man says that he can borrow something from a friend that may help with locating them, so we will try that the next time he is at our house.

Thanks again.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: JDPokerplayer
Date: March 31, 2012 11:47AM
Question: I have a six station sprinler system. I have only been able to locate 3 valves. Is it possible that each valve is operating 2 stations or is a seperate valve required for each station?
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: jgreen
Date: July 04, 2012 11:45AM
I have a Rainbird ESP-6TM controller which actuates the valves with 24VAC. Here's how I found my valves.

1. I shut off the main valve to the sprinkler system. If you don't know where it is, you may shut off the valve at your water meter.

2. I disconnected the white wire (common) and the colored wire that controls the valve I was looking for, from the controller.

3. See photo below. I connected the black clamp from a 12V car battery charger to the white wire (green jumper in photo). I connected the red clamp to a saw blade. I connected another jumper to the colored wire (red jumper in photo).



4. Then I had someone run the unconnected end of the red jumper back and forth along the saw teeth while I walked around the yard listening for a clicking noise from the valve.

I was able to locate all six valves quickly in this way.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/04/2012 11:48AM by jgreen.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: pvoisr
Date: March 09, 2013 12:53PM
All the clicking solonid noise techniques will not work if you have a bad solonid. That is one big reason to locate it. I have a bad solonid somewhere seems like I need a detector.
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Re: Any easy way to find sprinkler valves/solenoids in your yard?
Posted by: chloelly
Date: August 05, 2013 03:39AM
Have you tried using a metal detector. Renting or borrowing regular one if possible to ground search your yard, you may get other surprisingly metal detecting finds too exept for the valves you want.
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