On Friday I had a call from a client in Yanchep who had installed a solenoid, but was having problems. The two stations in the back were coming on together.
So I went out to see what was going on.
What was odd was that the two rear stations came on together but they didn’t come on when the front retic station was running. Normally if a solenoid fails open it stays on with every other station.
But in this case station one came on, then station two and three together.
So I checked:
- The direction of flow on the solenoid he had installed. It was correct.
- The wiring and the voltage at the solenoid. It was all perfect.
- Whether the solenoid was clogged with glue or dirt, but both were fine.
- Whether the controller had failed and was sending voltage on both stations rather than individually. It wasn’t…
There was no apparent reason and I was running out of options as all of the logical solutions were coming up blank.
Finally I decided to check whether a different controller would get a different result so we wired one up to test it. As I was doing this I asked the client why he replaced the solenoid.
He told me ‘I didn’t replace it – I added it to split the rear yard in two.’ And as he said that, it dawned on me what had happened. What was once a complete station had been divided in two – but not completely. Somewhere there was still a connection underground. It was the only explanation left for why both stations came on simultaneously.
When we discussed it he agreed and I left him to dig some holes and find that elusive connection.
There is always a logical solution to retic problems, but sometimes you need to gather all the information to make sense of it.
For people with Hunter X Core Controllers this is one of the most common issues and it arises because the controller is incorrectly programmed.
What happens is the system comes on at 5.00am (or whenever you have set it for) runs thru the whole cycle and then does it again… and again… and again…
The problem is more than one identical start time being set.
By that I mean that start time 1 is 5.00am, start time 2 is 5.00am and then start time 3 is 5.00am. For some reason this confuses the machine and causes it behave in this way.
The reality is you only need one start time to run a program, so if you have this issue then ensure you only have one time set.
This week I went to do a job that involved connecting the rear retic (running off a tap) to the main system at the front. In doing the quote I noticed a thin 70ml channel down the side of the house where liquid limestone ended and the fence began.
I figured that with a thin trenching shovel we could get enough dirt out to lay pipe and wire…
That all made sense but I forgot to take into account the fence post right smack bang in the middle of that 70ml channel. I was about to go and see the client and apologise for an embarrassing mistake on my part, when I had another thought…
I learnt a while back that you can dig under anything if you are prepared to dig for long enough so I thought this looked like a chance to test that theory. Surely 600-700ml down the concrete for the fence post would end and I would be able to get under it?…
Sure enough after some careful digging with a shovel that only just fitted I was able to poke a piece of PVC thru and make a connection. Saved my butt and saved my client having to run her retic off the tap any longer.
I was working on a friend’s place recently with a strange fault that was proving difficult to track down.
The solenoid would come on and off intermitently. It would work 10 times in a row and then fail. There was power (27V) coming from the control box but at the solenoid the power varied between 22-26v according to my multimeter.
The power wire to the solenoid had been joined several times before it reached the solenoid and after eliminating any other possibilities (faulty coil/controller) I could only conclude that there was a problem with the wire run.
I ran a fresh wire to the solenoid and tested it around 20 times with no failure. It seemed that the wire was flawed somewhere between the controller and the solenoid. There were numerous connections and it wasn’t easy to find where the problem was so I simply ended up running a new wire.
So far so good…
If you have a Hunter X Core Controller and it doesn’t come on as it should when operating manually the you could have a dodgy switch issue.
Normally to run an individual station you turn the dial anti-clockwise to the ‘run single station’ indicator, then select the station an return the dial to auto-run.
If it doesn’t come on (and you will know its on by the presence of a little sprinkler symbol) then you may need to jiggle the switch a bit and see if you can get it to fire up.
Usually if this is a problem then the dial will not move between the various modes easily. Unfortunately the only solution is to get anew control box as the dial and switches are a complete unit
This is the control box you would use if you have no access to mains power. It is totally battery operated and does not require a 240v supply.
I came across one of these in Butler this week and only realised when we arrived that it was a hybrid. The trick here is that none of your regular 24v solenoids will work with it, so because we were laying retic and turf that day it meant a frantic search to locate some DC latching solenoids.
In the end Total Eden in Balcatta had 3 we needed so it was long drive there and back to make it work. I’m not sure why anyone would use one of these in Suburbia where power is not an issue. The other thing to remember with these controllers is that the solenoids are expensive. You will pay $80.00 for each solenoid rather than the regular $30.00 so it adds to the cost of the job.
I believe you can use regular Hunter valves and simply change the coil to DC latching, but I haven’t tested that method.
Next time I’ll be making a note of whether the controller is AC or DC!
I have one customer whose home I have been to twice now to try and resolve a ‘fuse’ issue with his Irritrol controller.
When a kwikdial shows a ‘fuse’ message it generally means either box is playing up or one of the coils is playing up. When it does it intermittently then its hard to know which is the source of the problem – coil or controller.
Today I went back again and we decided to try option A which was to replace all coils on the master and 2 station valves. This was the cheapest option and it looks like it may have worked.
If this doesn’t work then the next option will be to replace the control box.
Let’s home he has a win here.
It does happen occasionally…
I am currently trying to help some people find a way to get pipe under an 8 m wide driveway with access from one side only. It is proving difficult.
With access from both sides you can clear a path, but meet in the middle but with access from just one side it is much more difficult.
I have managed to plunk 5m in, but after that it just gets stuck and with poor water pressure we are struggling to keep the pipe moving. Plunking is normally pretty straight forward but it helps if you have good water pressure and can come at the driveway from both sides.
I explored some options today, one of which was the ‘bullet-mole‘, a piece of steel you smack thru with a sledgehammer. It looks like a great option, but unfortunately it can only go 6m and I need one that can do 8… but it does look like a great option for people who have narrower driveways and are needing to get thru.
The other option seems to be compressed air. I haven’t done this before so I’m reluctant to try it unless I am sure it will work, but it seems this may be where we land up.
This morning I laid the main retic line for a client in Jindowie (a part of Yanchep). I’ve written before about water pressure issues in this part of the world and today we hit the same problem again.
I use Richdel solenoids 99% of the time, but today they wouldn’t seal. They need a certain amount of backpressure and the water being what it is up here I just couldn’t get them to work.
I changed them for Hunter PGVs and they worked fine. I’m not sure why Hunters will operate with the lower pressure, but they seem to be the answer when the Richdels fail.
Lucky I had 4 onboard to subsititute!
So what’s the deal when your retic box if switched to off and a solenoid is still receiving an electrical signal and is stuck open?
Honestly I have no idea…
But its happened to me 3 times now and today I was able to resolve it.
The first two times were with Hunter EC 2 station control boxes and I couldn’t find a solution and ended up changing the box over. It was a faulty box, but this time I had another 3 terminals to test before doing a swap. On terminals 4 & 5 the solenoid stuck open (there was negilible voltage coming from the terminals (4V) but when I switched the wires to terminal 6 the problem went away.
I have no idea what was going on but on each occasion it has been a Hunter control box that has been the problem. Today was a brand new X Core.
So if you find a solenoid stuck open despite there being no voltage going to it maybe you’re not crazy. Maybe its the control box doing some crazy stuff