Irrigation Troubleshooting:. What does it take to be an “Irrigation Troubleshooter”?. An Electrician A Plumber An Electronics Technician An Irrigation Technician A Laborer ALL OF THE ABOVE. The 7 components of an irrigation system that we need to be concerned with:. • Water Supply
What does it take to be an “Irrigation Troubleshooter”?
An Electronics Technician
An Irrigation Technician
ALL OF THE ABOVE
• Water Supply
• Backflow Preventer
• Main Line
• Electric Valves
• Lateral Lines
What is malfunctioning?
Is it the controller, valves, heads, sensors, etc.?
Has anyone been working in the area other than you?
Have there been any storms lately?
Can you manually turn on the system?
Has the pressure been reduced in the area?
Is the problem
Traditional systems require at least one wire per valve, plus common ground wires.
Direct Burial Connectors
DBY/DBR- 30v Max
DBR/Y 600v Max
DBY/DBR -6 600v Max
Alternating current (AC) – Standard household current. Most irrigation systems use AC current.
Amperage (AMPS) – Quantitative measurement of flow of electricity, similar to Gallons per Minute in irrigation.
Circuit – In irrigation terms, the electrical wiring path from the station output terminal to and through the solenoid back to the common terminal.
Connection – Connection of one wire with one or more wires inside of an approved wire nut or other connecting device.
Direct Current (DC) – Directional flowing electricity: i.e. current flowing from the positive terminal of a battery through a device and back to the negative terminal.
Field Wiring – the wiring between the controller and any device/valve installed in-ground.
Ground – In electricity, it is always earth ground
Multimeter (Volt OHM-Meter) – Digital or analog testing device for measuring electricity’s characteristics (voltage, amperage, resistance).
OHMS/Resistance – The resistance encountered by electricity in wiring or devices on a circuit, similar to friction loss in irrigation terms.
Open Circuit – Term given to a circuit when the pathway for electricity has been severed or is not completed.
Primary Side – The side of the transformer that is connected to the 120vac supply.
Secondary Side – In the irrigation industry, it is the 24vac output side of the transformer.
Short Circuit – Term given to a circuit where electricity bypasses the intended and goes directly from the hot to the common wire.
Short To Ground – the electricity has a direct path from the wire through the insulation to ground.
Solenoid – an electrical device on valves that when electrified creates a magnetic field that pulls a metallic plunger.
Terminal Strips – A collection of terminals numbered to differentiate zones.
Terminals – The connecting device on the panel of the controller that the field wires are attached into. There are station output terminals and common terminals.
Voltage (VOLTS) – Quantitative measurement of the power of electricity, similar to water pressure (PSI).
Zone – Irrigation term used to differentiate one circuit from another: i.e. zone 5 or zone 12.
Zone Wire VS. Common Wire – The zone wire is the wire connecting a station output terminal on a controller to a solenoid or device. The common wire is the wire connecting the solenoid or device to the common terminal.
Know what you are measuring
Volts……AC or DC voltage?
Set the meter to the proper scale
BE SAFE! Call a certified electrician if you
watch “Home Improvement” regularly
Controller power specifications
120 VAC ± 10% (108-132 VAC)
Does my controller require a dedicated breaker?
If a high amperage device like an irrigation pump is powered on the same branch circuit as the controller, the answer might be--YES.
Why? The high amperage demand of the pump causes a severe drop in voltage.
Must be measured in-circuit
120 VAC supply
Controllers use approximately 0.25 amps
Add 0.12 amps for each solenoid
Refer to the manufacturer’s specifications
Most useful of all measurements in the field
Used to test for bad:
Shorts to ground
DO NOT MEASURE RESISTANCE WHILE THE POWER IS ON!!
Think of an “open” drawbridge
Turning off the light switch at home = open
Indicates no connection
Station will not work
The common wire is touching a station wire
Internal solenoid wires touch-- too soon
Result? The fuse or circuit breaker opens, or……
The diagnostic circuit breaker “skips” the station
If not, then test the ohms on that station. A high reading (over 60 ohms) indicates an open circuit.
If the circuit is open, is the problem a solenoid or a cut wire? Go to that valve box, disconnect the solenoid from the valve wires. Take the ohm reading of the solenoid. If this reading is high, then replace the solenoid.
If the solenoid is normal, then we have a wiring issue. Here we will turn to specialized equipment for tracking wire.
Acceptable range: 20 - 60 ohms
More than 60 ohms is considered open
Less than 20 ohms is considered shorted
Asco (Bermad/ClaVal)14.4 ohms
Imperial ATTV21.7 ohms
RainBird A series coil28.5 ohms
RainBird B series coil23.8 ohms
RainBird DV series51.8 ohms
Toro 1” +/- 28 ohms
Toro ¾” +/- 23 ohms
Progressive Electronics 521
2003 Fault Finder
Pressure - 2 Kinds:
Check using a pressure
gauge on the backflow,
hosebib, and heads.
TIP – always begin at the beginning.
Start at the beginning of the water system. Make sure all irrigation water valves are open.
2. Is the backflow working properly?
tell by looking at it.
and poppet assembly
for cracks or warpage.
Also check the o-ring.
check valves for trash or cracks.
Check the o-rings.
Check the overflow valve.
Is the mainline holding water pressure? A pressure gauge comes in handy here.
Are the electric valves opening and closing properly? Obstructions around the diaphragm can cause problems. Check the flow control valve for proper opening position. Is it installed backwards?
Does the lateral pipe have any breaks or kinks in it? Could be trash from a previous (BAD) repair, tree roots, etc.
If there is no break in the pipe, the valves are operating properly, or there are no problems with the backflow preventer, and a sprinkler head is still not working properly; what would you do? Check the screen and/or nozzle in the sprinkler head first for clogging.
Sometimes rocks and debris can get stuck in the spiral elbow or the swing pipe gets kinked. You must dig up the head to get at these headaches.
Finally, when all is checked including last head pressure, the only answer may be in the design itself. Make sure that the zone requirements do not exceed the water source.
Tools Needed to Troubleshoot
A 4in1 screwdriver
12” channelock pliers
A pressure gauge