Problems With a Shared Bore

Posted on 30th October 2011 in bore, Never Seen That One Before, solenoids

Shared bores are a great idea in that only one whole gets drilled and can serve two or three properties. But shared bores can also raise some interesting challenges – and can be similar to the dreaded ‘neighbourhood fence’.

The question of who is responsible when it breaks down can be tricky. The question of what happens if my neighbour can’t afford his share of the repairs is also a grey area.

This week I have encountered two problems with shared bores and the solutions are interesting and worth knowing.

On Friday a friend rang and told me that his sprinklers kept coming on even though it wasn’t his watering days. He is on a shared bore and the obvious solution is that he has a solenoid stuck open. So everyone on the 3 properties is then inconvenienced until he fixes his solenoid. That sounded like the solution but then it got weird…

He went home to replace the solenoid yesterday but after turning the pump on to test the system he couldn’t stop the water flow. He unplugged his control box and still the water kept flowing. Eventually he had to go next door to his neighbour’s place and turn the pump off at the mains to stop the water. When he turned it back on the same problem occurred. A chat with an electrician suggests this is a faulty relay switch on his line and that when activated it is unable to shut down.

Thankfully he was able to access the main switch otherwise it would have been a lot of water down the drain.

He is getting the relay switch looked at this week so we will see what develops



Why Does My Solenoid Stay Open?

Posted on 22nd October 2011 in solenoids

If you have a solenoid that stays on with all of the other stations then 9 times out of 10 it is your diaphragm that is playing up. First check that you haven’t accidentally placed it in the ‘on’ position, then check that the small screw for flushing is done up tight. If these are all ok and there are no visible leaks then its usually the diaphragm.

This is the rubber piece in the middle of the solenoid and allows water to flow or blocks its flow. For some solenoids eg Richdel you can probably head down to your local retic shop, grab a new diaphragm and change it over. Other solenoids aren’t quite so easy and you may need to replace the whole unit.

If you are buying a solenoid then I recommend the jar top variety which you can screw on and off rather than the solenoids where stainless screws are used to join the two halves together. In my experience the solenoids that are screwed together are harder to separate and rejoin. Bits of dirt can get in between the surfaces, the gasket can break and it can just be  messier getting it all to line up again.



Locating Solenoids in Reticulation Systems

Posted on 21st October 2011 in Installations, solenoids

This can be one of the most time consuming and frustrating parts of the retic work.

But, assuming the person installing has been thinking logically you should be able to track them down.

Master Solenoid – this is invariably next to the water meter and usually within a meter of it. If is isn’t there then look near the control box as sometimes plumbers cut into the mains further up the line, especially if the driveway has been concreted and space is at a premium.



Station Valves Front – usually these will be near the master solenoid. Poke around with a screwdriver or sharp object to try and find them. Older properties had them dotted all around the place but in the last 10 years or so most retic blokes make a ‘manifold’ of 3 or 4 valves and locate them together for ease of location and repair. Above you can see the dual check valve going into the master valve and then the two station valves.


Station Valves Rear – The big tip here is that these should be on the same side of the house as the water meter on most properties. Simply go to the end of the paving down the side of the house and look in the garden bed or lawn. This is the most likely location. Hopefully they haven’t been paved over.

It may take some hunting around, but most valves can be found fairly easily. If that fails then call us and we can bring out the valve locator and find them for you.



My Retic Doesn’t make Sense

Posted on 21st October 2011 in solenoids

Occasionally retic does weird stuff.

The good news is that being a ‘closed system’ there are only so many variables that can go wrong. If you have an analytical mind then you can solve most problems by a process of deduction.

Yesterday I went to see a client whose retic had come on and wouldn’t go off. They had been on holidays when this happened so they came home to huge water bill.

The logical answer is that both the master valve and the station valve had failed and stuck open simultaneously allowing water thru. But what are the chances of that? I’d be guessing one in a million so I started by testing the control box to see if there were any issues there.


By turning the valves on and off manually I was able to detect that all 3 of the clients solenoids were faulty. The fault was intermitent, but it was there. The end result was 3 new solenoids and no more problems.



Brighton Retic on Google Streetview

Posted on 11th October 2011 in Just For Fun

We were working away one day and then saw the google ‘streetview’ car go by.

I figured sooner or later we’d see someone online and sure enough, here’s Cass hard at work.

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My Reticulation has Lost Pressure

Posted on 11th October 2011 in bore, Repairs

Ok so you have noticed a drop in pressure on your sprinklers.

Believe it or not the first place to check is your water meter. Make sure someone hasn’t turned the pressure down here. It happens… I have no idea why people do it but that’s the first test.

Then check and see if it is on just one station or on all.

If its ‘all’ then you have a break in your mainline – that’s the 25ml or 40ml main pipe that feeds to the solenoids. This should show up in a large puddle of water somewhere.  You may need to leave it on for a while if its just a small crack as it will take a while for it to show through.

If its just one station then you will have either a broken pipe in the line or a broken riser.


Check for pooling around the sprinklers as that will indicate a riser problem. If you can move the sprinkler then its likely the riser is broken. If not then you will need to check the line for cracks and breaks. This can be a long tedious process as you will need to locate the break and sometimes its not obvious.

A small crack can result in a significant pressure drop but can be a pain to find.

Here’s one my father worked on recently. His pressure on this one station dropped significantly and he ended up having to trace the line until he found the problem – a joint that had cracked.


If you have a drop in pressure then the only solution is to keep looking till you find it – or call us and we will look for you!



Installing a Bore

Posted on 3rd October 2011 in bore, In My Own Backyard, Installing

We’re still working on landscaping at our own property and the latest project has been to get a bore put down. Once that is sorted we can retic the areas already developed and then get the bobcat in to help us prepare the new areas.

So today Luke from Aqua Attack arrived to drill the bore. It would have taken them a couple of hours but they hit a cave and some of the slotted pipe got lost meaning they had to take a bit longer.

They drilled down 25m or so and will be back on Friday to install the pump and do the electrics.

Here are a few pics of the truck backed up and drilling.

The tub for circulating water and sludge


Adding another piece of the drill


Plunking Under a Driveway

Posted on 3rd October 2011 in General, In My Own Backyard, Installations

So you forgot to have your builder put a pipe under your driveway to allow retic to be fed thru?…

That makes it tricky.

You have two options. If its a paved driveway you can lift and relay the pavers, which will take a couple of hours, or if its concrete one you can ‘plunk’ under. Plunking is a not so technical term for using water to push pipe through. You can easily plonk under paths, but driveways take a little longer.

Its not recommended for full width paved driveways as the water can erode the sand under the pavers and cause them to subside, but for concrete its the only way.

As we are in the process of having a bore installed I have needed to do this at my own place. Fortunately my driveway is thick concrete and the soil is beach sand, so it is an easier option than some others.

I was hoping to plunk right under the concrete and the paving, but I ended up needing to life the small paving section and rejoin the pipes.

The pictures show the entry point (on the low side of the land) and the exit point on the other side of the pavers.


Some tips for plunking:

– make sure your hose is long enough

– cut the tip of your PVC at a 45 degree angle to give it some cutting power

– insert a piece of copper pipe into your hose and crimp it so it sprays a jet of water

– use one piece of pipe as the flanged join will impede progress

– stick at it. You might need to have two or three gos at it over a wide driveway but sooner or later you will get there.

– if you are plunking a main line as I was then consider that you may need to send cable under as well and tape it to the pipe, but don’t be surprised if it comes off in the pushing and thrusting

If you are working with a paved driveway then look for the least disruptive line to lift (remembering that the line beside the kerb is likely to be on top of roadbase).

You may find paving hard to lift so a mattock levered under the pavers may help, or some water sprayed between the edges may free them also.

Once you have lifted them and dug a trench use a trowel and mallet to level the ground and bang them back in. Its better to have them sit one or two ml high and have room to sink than have sit dead level or under the level.






A Shared Bore?

Posted on 1st October 2011 in bore, Never Seen That One Before

So you’re considering getting a bore…

Personally I think that’s a great idea as it reduces the amount of scheme water spread across lawns and gardens, will save you money in water bills and is also a capital investment.

If you’re going that route then you may like to consider a shared bore. This is an arrangement by which 2 or 3 neighbours on adjacent properties access the same bore, but pay for their own running costs.

I haven’t seen too many of these around to know how successful they are, but my guess is they would need to be undergirded by a fairly concrete written agreement as to what happened when the thing broke down. I can see the potential for the equivalent of a fence dispute to arise with this issue.

However if everyone is amicable it could also be a good cost saving way of watering the garden for all parties.

By the way if you ask me to come and service your retic and you’re operating it from a shared bore then be sure to let me know. I arrived to do a basic service on a property last week not realising it was a shared bore. I turned the system on but got no water – not realising that the other partner on whose property the bore control was located had tuned it off!

The control box was still wired up to run a master valve so I figured this must be the problem. After locating the master valve and seeing it was operating ok I noticed the ball valve had been turned to off. Strange…

But I got the system up and running only to hear it losing water somewhere… That somewhere was thru a 25ml pipe to the neighbour’s property. Had the neighbour ‘hacked into’ my customer’s retic?…

It was only after I had cut the pipe and capped it that it dawned on me what was going on.

It was a shared bore and the mains ball valve had been turned off because of that.

All’s well that ends well, but it did end up costing more time and money than either of us had expected.