My Reticulation Doesn’t Come On At All

Posted on 28th March 2011 in Repairs

Ok so nothing works?

Here is a series of checks to eliminate the most obvious possibilities:

1. The first thing to check is whether the control box has power and is functioning. I know this sounds obvious, but firstly check for a display. if there is no digital display then the controller may be fried.

2. If there is a display check for power. Put the leads of a multimeter on common and master/pump terminals and see if you get at least 24 volts. If not then you have a tripped RCD, or your transformer may have malfunctioned. If this is the case then its most likely going to be a new controller…

3. If the controller is sending voltage then the next place to look is at your master solenoid. In most cases this will be located within a metre of the water meter. Go to this solenoid and check if there is power getting to it. If not then there may well be a broken wire somewhere in the system.

4. Turn the solenoid on manually and then see if you can set the program running. If it works then its likely that the power wire to the solenoid is broken. If nothing works then it may be that your common wire is broken and you will need to locate the break.

5.  If there is power at the solenoid but nothing works then the fault will be with the solenoid itself. Its very likely the coil has malfunctioned and needs replacing. This isn’t difficult. Unscrew it and put another one on. If this doesn’t fix things then the solenoid is stuck shut and it will likely be the diaphragm that is the problem.

6. If you can unscrew the top the solenoid then you can replace the diaphragm.

By this process of elimination you should be able to locate and remedy the problem.

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email




comments: 0 » tags: ,

Solenoids and Planning for the Future

Posted on 27th March 2011 in Installations, Installing

If you are installing your own solenoids then do it with a view to one day having to service them – or with a view to someone having to service them! The more serviceable they are the less it will cost you if they need replacing – and of course the opposite is true too.

So to that end when you install a solenoid:

a) Always try to allow at least 150ml gap between the T joint and the solenoid and also between it and the next closest solenoid. That way they can be dismantled and replaced easily and without having to pull a whole ‘manifold’ of solenoids apart.

b) Ideally use ‘jar top’ solenoids where the whole assembly can simply be unscrewed and replaced if it is faulty. If you need to use solenoids that are not easily dissasembled then be sure  to leave space between them so that they can removed and a new solenoid installed.

c) Consider also their physical location. This week I visited a home where the master solenoid had been placed between 2 large Norfolk Pines and over the time since it was installed it had become completely encased in tree roots. I imagine the trees were planted and no one considered that one day their roots would present a massive problem, but now that there is a leak between the ball valve and the solenoid a huge amount of work is required to complete a relatively simple task.

In addition it (generally) makes more sense to locate solenoids together in a manifold arrangement rather than dotting them all over the property. That way they can be easily located.

d) Keep a plan of where you installed the solenoids. I know… you will remember… but you’d be surprised how easily we can forget! If you draw a small diagram then not only do you have it but you can pass it on to the next owner.

Having said all of that I have no idea where the front solenoids are on my own home… I have a horrible feeling they are located under a large bush and would now be a pain in the butt to service, but then I  didn’t do that installation!

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email


comments: 0 » tags: ,

When Sprinklers Just Don’t Work Any More

Posted on 22nd March 2011 in Never Seen That One Before, Repairs

I was at a job today where sprinklers that had once performed well were now not popping up at all and we were trying to determine why the water pressure had decreased so markedly.

The water meter had been tested, so we were able to rule out that possibility immediately.

The next most obvious fault was going to be a broken riser or a broken pipe somewhere, but there was nothing visible and it seemed it was going to be almost impossible to find the problem.

I let the client know that I really didn’t have a guaranteed solution, but my hunch was that because they were the original sprinklers (now 10 years old) the springs may have got tired, the seals may be leaking (some of them were pooling water) and they might just be past their use by date.

We tested what happened when 3 of 7 sprinklers were changed. There was instant success, so we replaced them all and now the system works well.

Old age takes its toll on sprinklers!

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email

comments: 0 » tags: ,

Pants First Then Shoes…

Posted on 22nd March 2011 in Installing


If you are planning to install both retic and turf then make sure you get the order right.

Some folks don’t have enough money to do both and so they settle for turf first… Bad decision!

Firstly its a bad decision because now you need to water that turf 3 times a day to get it established. Its also a bad decision because it will actually cost you more for retic once the turf is down. Its harder to dig through and as a result an installation will be more expensive. Finally, it looks much better to have it done in the right order. I have been back to places where I have installed retic after turf and even 6 months later the trenches are still visible.

So – if you can only afford to do one job, do the retic first!

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email


My Controller Blows a Fuse

Posted on 14th March 2011 in Repairs


If your controller is showing a ‘fuse’ message or actually blowing a fuse then the most likely cause is the coil on the solenoid or some wires crossed somewhere in the system.

The coil is the electrical component of the solenoid and when it malfunctions it causes the fuse to blow and protect the control box. If your control box doesn’t have a fuse or isn’t able to show a ‘fuse message’ then it may actually damage the box and end up causing you more $$ for a new box.

The fix for this is relatively simple – assuming you know where your solenoids are…

Once you have located the faulty solenoid simply unscrew the coil and disconnect it from the common and power wires. Make sure you label the wires so that you know how to put it back together.

Take the coil down to your local retic shop and ask for a replacement. Assuming its a common model they should be able to fix you up for $20-$30.00 and then you can go home, screw it back in and reconnect.

If this doesn’t fix the issue then it will most likely be a case of locating faulty wiring, a more time consuming process, or it may be that there is a fault in the control box itself.

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email


Help – I’m Watering the Road!

Posted on 11th March 2011 in Installing

I often get asked if I can rig up a system that doesn’t end up with water on the road.


I’d really like to be able to say yes, but it just isn’t that easy.  If I could control the wind direction and strength then I’d be ok, but in the absence of godlike qualities I can only do my best.

So while we try to avoid water overspraying onto roads, walls and the like ultimately in a windy city like Perth we can’t control this as well as we would like. When setting up a system I always seek to have a little bit of overspray so that on days when the wind is blowing into the spray the lawn still gets watered.

You should never have great jets spurting out onto the road, but its inevitable that it will happen.

If you come up with a solution then let us know!

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email

comments: 0 » tags: ,

Broken Wires in Reticulation?

Posted on 10th March 2011 in Repairs

Sometimes a solenoid isn’t working because there is no power getting to it.

What to do?…

Firstly – check that there is power ‘leaving the control box’. Put the multimeter probe on the station terminal and on the common and the reading should be 24V+. If not then the problem lies there. (This does happen) Simply change the wire to an unused terminal and you should have power.  Voila!

If there is power there then the break is somewhere between the control box and the solenoid. Depending on how easily accessible the wire is will determine what you do next.

If its possible to use a wire tracker then you may wish to go this route, but assuming most people don’t own one of these then the next best option is to look in obvious places for a break.

These are usually:

  • at the base of control box
  • by the solenoid itself
  • anywhere the ground has been disturbed.

If it doesn’t turn up easily then you need to decided whether it is worth tracing from the box and testing at regular intervals.

If it a sole solenoid then you don’t have much choice, but if it is sitting next to another solenoid then you have two options.

a) wire the two stations together and run them as one – if there is enough pressure.

b) use an ‘add a station‘ device to act as the wire that was broken.

Option A is cheaper if you can get it to work as the ‘add a station’ modules come to nearly $100.00 for the part itself. However if this is your only option then its good to know you can use it.

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email

comments: 0 » tags: ,

Why is my Reticulation Water Pressure So Lousy?

Posted on 10th March 2011 in Repairs

This morning I went to help someone discover why their water pressure had suddenly decreased on the front two stations.

As you would expect I was looking for broken risers or water bubbling up and suggesting broken pipe under ground. After 10 minutes of running the system there was nothing to see.

I checked the solenoids and they looked fine. It wasn’t as if water was being obstructed.

The customer had told me that the rear stations were working fine so I went and had a look. They did appear ok, but when I pushed down on the shaft of one of the pop-ups it retracted a little easier than it should have. Hmmm… I began to wonder if it was actually just the front that was playing up.

I returned to the front and went to the water meter. It was making a hissing noise…

I thought it was a faulty meter

Everything else had been eliminated and it was the only option left. I explained to the customer that this had been the case in two other repairs this summer and that it would be the first port of call before pulling solenoids apart and digging pipes up.

Just out of curiosity I ran the front tap to check the pressure and it wasn’t good. While I was doing that the customer leant down and turned the tap on the water meter…

And can you believe it… the pressure came back with a rush.

It seems someone had thought it would be fun to turn this person’s water meter down and leave them to figure it out.

I have had two other occasions where a turn of the meter has changed everything, but this morning I assumed that (being obvious) this would have already been checked.

Obviously not…

So from here on in I won’t be making assumptions…

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email


comments: 0 » tags: ,

Unknown Error Message on Holman 1248 Controller

Posted on 5th March 2011 in Never Seen That One Before

I was doing a backyard install yesterday on a home in Carramar where the developers had used a 6 station Holman 1248 Control Box. Everything was looking sweet but each time I tested the new stations (5 & 6) an error message would appear on the display. It said ‘error 2 station 3’ and the ‘fuse’ message was flashing.

So the puzzle was that:

a) I hadn’t messed with station 3 so it should have been ok

b) The controller fuse was intact

c) I got the message intermittently and there was no consistency to it. Sometimes it would stop the whole cycle of watering and other times it would appear once the cycle was completed

I immediately figured it would have been the station 3 coil as it seemed to be the only logical reason.  I tested a different controller (The Rainmaster 469) and didn’t have any problems with station 3. The Rainmaster 469s will blow a fuse if the coil is faulty. It didn’t blow…

So I ended up ringing Holman in Osborne Park to ask them. The technician in the office didn’t know the solution, but put me onto the bloke who did know.

‘Ah yes – that’d be the adjustable fuse setting that is showing that message’ he said.

‘The what?…’

It turns out the control box allows you to adjust the amperage setting of the fuse (I don’t know why) and that it was obviously having a meltdown and in need of changing.

I had left the job by that stage and passed on the info to the homeowner who was able to make the changes themself.  I guess the moral of the story is that unless you need a complicated controller with a whole array of functions it may be better to stick with a simple one where the faults will be obvious.

The manual for the 1248 is here should you need it (but it doesn’t mention the error I just explained!)

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email


You Get What You Pay For in Sprinklers

Posted on 4th March 2011 in Repairs

Its not particularly difficult to change a sprinkler, but what matters is getting the right sprinkler. If you buy a quality ‘brand-name’  product then there is no question it will last a lot longer than those purchased from a local hardware store.

Its really a classic case of getting what you pay for.

My sprinkler of choice for normal pop-up work is the Toro 3P available at all Total Eden Stores. You’ll pay about $10.00 for sprinkler and nozzle but you can expect to get around 4-5 years out of a quality sprinkler whereas  ‘cheapies’  from the hardware store will probably last you a year if you’re lucky.

So if changing sprinklers isn’t your idea of fun on a weekend then buy quality and you won’t have to do it every year.

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email


comments: 0 » tags: ,